Related to mint and with a similar appearance Melissa officinalis is commonly known as Lemon Balm and often simply Balm. It is easy to grow from seedlings in the home garden.
This is a herb that has been used for 1000s of years and as the common name suggests is used as a calming herb.
The essential oils are extracted by distillation and then mixed with a carrier oil to create the balm.
A number of varieties of Lemon Balm are available including
- M. officinalis ‘Lime’ – More of a lime fragrance.
- M. officinalis ‘Quedlinburger Niederliegende’ which is said to have a higher oil content.
- M. officinalis ‘variegata’ – Variegated foliage.
How to grow Lemon Balm
In a frost free area this is very a very easy to grow. You can plant seedlings in spring, or start plants off from seed in winter indoors.
This is a plant likes a well drained humus rich soil. It grows well in full sun to part shade and plants need to plated at around 30 cm (12 inches) apart.
Good drainage is essential, although watering during very dry summers will be required.
The plant does tend spread by underground runners and we suggest growing it in containers to control its spread.
An annual tidy up by pruning back in early spring will keep the plant growing well and promote a bushy habit.
Lemon Balm plants are available for sale from the following nurseries
Little Hampton, Vic 345
"Mail order nursery specialising in cottage garden perennials, flowering shrubs, Trilliums, Hostas and Pacific Coast Iris. Flat rate express postage - Except WA & TAS"