Lemon Balm, Balm Mint, Bee Balm, Cure-All, Sweet Balm, and Sweet Mary are just a few of the names attributed to Melissa Officinalis. Like catnip, it is part of the mint family, though the scent released is more of a lemon than a mint. I love this plant.
I have grown this plant once before and have varying results. I started my lemon balm from seeds and, out of the 10 or so pods of seeds planted, only two of them survive long enough to make it into the ground. Since this was my first time growing them, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the plant. All I knew was I wanted to see if I could grow it.
I planted the two survivors in two different lighting situations to see which one worked best for it. One I planted in a spot that it would get the majority of the morning thru early afternoon sun, getting to rest in the shade the rest of the day. The other I planted in a reverse sun exposure situation: morning shade, late afternoon/evening sun. Despite it being said to love full sun except for in drier climates where it is partial shade tolerant, the lemon balm I planted that stayed in partial to full shade most of the day did better than the one that basked in the fullness of the sun through most of its day. I ended up moving the one out of the full day of sun, planting it right next to the other, with adequate spacing. It never really did recover from the move, though, and remained stunted and gangly, eventually dying off.
Lemon balm is one of my favorites, but I say that about each herb when I start to talk about it. At least, the ones that I have grown. One of the things I love about the Lemon Balm is its strong yet mellow scent of lemon. It’s almost like lemon without the sour. The plant that did the best just happened to be planted very near my door and when the breeze would blow just right…ahhh, such sweetness.
Lemon balm has been used throughout the ages for a variety of ailments. Feeling a little depressed or anxious about something? I, personally, suggest burying your face in this plant and inhaling deeply. Or you could make a potpourri with it or brew some tea and put honey in it. People that suffer from test anxiety have been shown in studies to do much better on tests with a significantly reduced anxiety level, which can last for many hours, after taking lemon balm prior to test taking. ” The leaves and young flowering shoots are antibacterial, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, febrifuge, sedative, and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 165, 238].” (http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Melissa+officinalis). Some studies have even shown that lemon balm may actually have some anti-tumor properties to it, as well. This herb is also used to flavor many dishes, but I would urge talking with your doctor before making lemon balm a regular part of your diet, and pregnant women should not ingest lemon balm at all since it has been shown to affect female hormones.
For more about lemon balm and its uses, click here for Google search results.