Lemon balm is one of the most popular medicinal herbs. It has been used for centuries to relieve stress and anxiety along with other psychological and physiological conditions.
Today, lemon balm extracts are available in many forms, including essential oil and capsules. Yet, you can only get the full benefits of the plant if you consume it fresh.
For that reason, growing your own lemon balm is a must. And in this article, we will discuss lemon balm growing conditions and tips to help you become prepared to grow the plant!
Lemon Balm Growing Conditions
Lemon balm can grow in many types of soil, including clay soil, but it prefers well-drained loamy soil.
The plant will also grow much faster and healthier if the soil is rich in organic matter. So, avoid using any soil that was used before to grow other plants.
The pH of the soil should be between 5 and 7. This means that the soil should either be slightly acidic or balanced but not alkaline.
The soil that combines all the above characteristics is the famous Foxfarm Potting Soil, which is well-drained, rich in nutrients, and pH balanced.
We have always used Foxfarm for our lemon balm plants and the results were always amazing. We recommend that you use Foxfarm or any similar high-quality soil for your lemon balm.
Never use cheap brands of soil that have a poor texture and are full of pests, diseases, and weeds.
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, and just like other mints, it loves water but not in excessive amounts.
You should water lemon balm when you feel that the soil is becoming dry, especially if it is potted. Never leave the plant without water for lengthy periods of time.
At the same time, check the drainage of the lemon balm’s container and avoid over-watering the plant.
If the soil gets too wet, the roots of your lemon balm will become susceptible to suffocation and rotting.
Remember that in hot weather, you might need to water your potted lemon plants daily if the soil is rapidly becoming dry.
Lemon balm is partial sun to full sun, so it needs around 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight to flourish.
Therefore, when the plant is growing indoors, it needs as much light as you can give it. Find a sunny location in your house and place the plant there along with your other full sun and partial sun herbs.
If you cannot give your lemon balm the minimal amount of light it needs, invest in a supplemental grow light to fill the gap.
In most houses, direct sunlight isn’t adequate enough to grow full or partial sun plants. For this reason, supplemental grow lights are very popular among indoor gardeners today.
If you are intereted in grow lights too, you should read the article we wrote on growing herbs with artificial light.
Lemon balm is native to the Mediterranean region, so it grows best in moderately warm temperatures.
The plant can endure high temperatures, but is also susceptible to dehydration, especially if growing on a balcony or outdoors.
For that reason, make sure that your plant is getting most of its sunlight in the morning, and always water when necessary!
Important Growing Tips
Lemon balm grows relatively fast. So, to keep the plant disease-free and in good shape, you need to prune it regularly.
You should prune your lemon balm every three to four weeks on average, or when its leaves and stems become crowded.
Cut back the established stems of the plant to half or third their original size by using sharp pruning scissors.
Remember to keep enough leaves on your lemon balm for it to grow again.
If you are too busy to prune your lemon balm, at least pinch its flowers and flowering buds to keep it in the vegetative stage.
You can use the stems cuttings you get from pruning to propagate new lemon balm plants.
Propagating lemon balm from cuttings is one of the easiest things to do. Just immerse the cuttings in a glass of water after you remove their bottom leaves.
Change the water every few days and after two to three weeks, the cuttings should become fully rooted and ready to be transplanted.
Repotting and Transplanting
Lemon balm is a perennial herb which means it can survive for several years. Having said this, a potted lemon balm plant will need some transplanting and repotting during its lifetime.
You can repot the plant by simply changing the soil of its pot. This is necessary because any potting soil that has been used for many months will become empty of nutrients and its texture will start breaking down.
To transplant your lemon balm, however, you should change the whole growing container. You must transplant your lemon balm when it outgrows its pot.
Transplanting to bigger containers is important to prevent your lemon balm from getting root-bound, a condition that will kill your plant.
Pest and Disease Prevention and Management
The most common pests that can live indoors and attack your lemon balm are whiteflies and spider mites.
Whiteflies are small white insects that can suck on plant and take its nutrients, thereby obstructing its growth and damaging their leaves.
If you see any whiteflies on your plant, use this detailed guide to learn how to get rid of them.
Spider mites look like small white, brown, or red spiders. They first feed on the lower stem of the plant, then move gradually to the top of the plant.
You can kill spider mites by spraying your lemon balm plants daily with a mixture of ¼ gallon (1 liter) of water and1 tablespoon of biodegradable liquid soap, then rinse with water after two to three hours.
Powdery mildew is the most common disease in lemon balm. The disease is not fatal, but it can reduce the quality of your harvest.
You can get rid of powdery mildew by spraying the affected areas on the plant daily with a mixture of ¼ gallon (1 liter), ½ tablespoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon of biodegradable liquid soap until the disease disappears.
You don’t need fertilizers for your lemon balm, but you can use them to increase your plant’s growth.
Lemon balm plants respond well to fertilizers high in nitrogen. The best organic fertilizers rich in nitrogen you can use for your lemon balm are worm castings.
Harvesting and Storage
You can harvest leaves from your lemon balm plants whenever you want and according to your demand.
Consume your lemon balm leaves when they are freshly harvested. But if you end up with excess leaves, you can store them for later use.
For optimal storage, immerse the harvested stems in a glass of water then transfer them to the refrigerator. Or, you can place lemon balm leaves between two paper towels before storing them in the fridge.
Now that you know all about lemon balm growing conditions, enjoy growing the plant and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!
Verma, P. P. (2015). LEMON BALM (MELISSA OFFICINALIS L.) AN HERBAL MEDICINAL PLANT WITH BROAD THERAPEUTIC USES AND CULTIVATION PRACTICES: A REVIEW. International Journal of Recent Advances in Multidisciplinary Research.