Growing Lemon Balm from Seed Posted on 9 Jun 12:30 , 1 comment
A common question I see asked in gardening groups is "what herbs can I plant to deter Mosquitoes?" We'll have a complete list very soon but for now we're going to talk about Lemon Balm.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb in the mint family and is grown for it's culinary and medicinal properties. It is considered a calming herb.
The lemon scent in Lemon Balm can deter a few different pests including gnats and mosquitos. As a companion plant, Lemon Balm grows well around Melons, Tomatoes, summer & winter squash, onions, fennel, basil, rosemary and sage.
Growing Lemon Balm from Seed
Sow seeds outdoors when soil is warm and temperature does not drop below 65°F. Can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out. Prefers rich well-drained soil.
For shorter growing seasons, seeds can be starting indoors 2 months before your last frost date but will need a light.
For optimal germination, cold stratify Lemonbalm seeds prior to planting.
Sow Lemon Balm seeds on the surface of your seed starting medium and gently scratch them into the soil. OR, broadcast the seeds over the soil and lightly cover with soil. Lemon Balm needs light to germinate.
Lemon Balm seeds should germinate in 5 to 10 days under optimal conditions, preferably when soil is 65 to 70 degrees F.
It is recommended to plant lemon balm in full sun but it will tolerate shade.
If planting indoors or in containers: Once seedlings have their second set of true leaves, you can thin them to one or two per pot or repot individual seedlings into larger containers. After all danger of frost has passed, seedlings should be set in the garden 12 to 18 inches apart.
Harvesting and Using Lemon Balm
There are so many useful herbs to grow in the garden. If you've grown Lemon Balm and now you're wondering what to do with it, we can help!
To harvest, cut each stem just above a pair of leaves using a very sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. You can cut the plant down to within six to eight inches of the soil.
Once you have harvested from your Lemon Balm, you can dry the leaves on the stems or removed the leaves to dry. TIP: stripping the leaves from the stems makes drying a little easier. Place your Lemon Balm Leaves on a screen or drying rack in a well ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
Store your fully dried leaves in an airtight jar or container.
Using fresh leaves for tea: chop leaves (2 tablespoons) and boil water. Mix the leaves and water in a mug and allow to stand 10 minutes to steep.
For tinctures and salves, use Lemon Balm fresh or dried depending on the recipe.