Basics Needed to Grow Lemon Balm -
- Part Sun - Like most other mint varieties, lemon balm will do well in partly shaded areas. As long as lemon balm receives a couple hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis, it will continue to grow and produce throughout the season. For patio gardeners with limited sunlight, lemon balm is the perfect herb to grow.
|Growing Lemon Balm. Planted with|
- Well Draining Soil - Lemon balm doesn't require an overly fertile soil to grow, but it does need proper drainage. An organic potting soil with plenty of perlite will provide mint roots with enough nutrition and drainage for prolonged growth in a container. If the potting soil is too dense, it may stay overly moist and cause root rot.
- Small Container - Unless you're looking to grow an enormous lemon balm plant, there's really no need for large containers. Lemon balm will happily grow in containers as small as a half gallon! By growing in small containers, you'll be able to prune and maintain your plant much easier.
Grow Lemon Balm in Containers -
- Select a Plant from Your Local Nursery - Sure, you can grow lemon balm from seed, but I don't really see the point. With sporadic germination rates and slow seedling growth, you'll spend a lot of preseason planting time fiddling around with an herb that can be purchased at the nursery for only a couple bucks! When selecting a lemon balm plant from your local garden center, look for a plant that is free of brown spots, thin webbing on the leaves (indicative of spider mites), and excess roots hanging from the bottom of the container.
|By midsummer, only|
the lemon balm could
survive in this much
- Take Cuttings to Multiply - For whatever reason, if you wish to grow multiple lemon balm plants, don't buy several plants! Save yourself the money and take cuttings from the one plant you purchased from the nursery. By following this Cutting Guide, you can easily produce many lemon balm plants from one donor.
- Planting Lemon Balm - Once the threat of frost has passed, it's time to plant outdoors. Fill your container with soil and dig a hole in the center that's large enough to fit the roots of the plant. Remove the lemon balm from the small container it was growing in at the nursery, and begin to gently break apart any large clumps of roots. If any roots look damaged or tangled, trim them off. Plant the lemon balm into the container, cover any exposed roots with soil, and water in well.
- Watering - As with most mint plants, lemon balm prefers the soil to be thoroughly moist, but not soggy. I recommend watering deeply every other two days, or once the top two inches of soil becomes dry. You may need to increase the frequency of watering if your lemon balm plants begin to droop or have leaves drying out.
|Although a bit hard to see, the arrow|
points to the lemon balm plant. It
was in a very shaded spot most of
- Spent Coffee Grounds - Lemon balm will grow the entire season without a need for fertilizers, but an extra little boost here and there surely won't hurt! For this, I like to use spent coffee grounds. By spreading a couple tablespoons around the base of each plant, you'll help to maintain a slightly acidic soil pH, and also feed the plants with a small amount of essential nitrogen. This process can be done two to three times throughout the growing season.
- Harvesting - The foliage of lemon balm can be harvested at any point during the season. You can trim off a little at a time, or trim back a large plant to just a few growing shoots. No matter how much is harvested, lemon balm will continue to grow. As essential oils within the leaves degrades rapidly, they should be used or frozen immediately.
|Long after the summer crops were|
cut back, the lemon balm pressed on!