- Plant Type: Perennial in zones 5 to 10
- Sun: Part Shade
- Plant Size: 24 to 36 inches tall
- Culinary Use: Lemon flavor in desserts, salads, poultry, fish, and teas
A member of the mint family, lemon balm has a powerful lemon scent and soothes the craving for fresh lemony flavor. It's is a great choice for growing in pots; like most mints, lemon balm tends to spread, so containers keep it under control. White summer flowers attract bees to your garden, too, which help pollinate summer crops.
Plant Spacing: 20-24 inches in the ground; one per 6-inch pot. Plants Per Person: 2 to 3.
Secrets to Success »
Lemon balm isn’t too picky, but if possible, plant where it gets a little afternoon shade (especially in hot climates); shade also promotes larger, tender leaves. Once established, lemon balm is somewhat drought tolerant, so it perks up quickly if you should let the soil dry out between waterings. You can also grow lemon balm indoors on a sunny windowsill, where the plant will be smaller, growing about a foot tall.
Harvest and Use »
Cut whole stems within a few inches of the plant base. The lemon taste is subtle, not overpowering. The scent is much stronger, which makes it nice for adding a lemon scent to a vase of flowers indoors. Use fresh leaves in green or fruit salads, for chicken and fish marinades, in fruit desserts, and for tea. If a recipe calls for lemon zest and you’re out of lemon, try substituting chopped lemon balm.
Try these garden companions »
- Mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, lavender.
- Squash, cucumbers, and melons, which depend on bees to fruit.