Melissa officinalis Open-pollinated. The Greek word Melissa means ‘honeybee’; the plant in flower attracts them. Perennial growing to 2'. Gather its yellow-green scalloped lemony leaves before plants flower. Delicious in salads, as a tea, with fruit, or dried for sachets. Flowers are edible. Essential oil of lemon balm smells fabulous and is highly effective against cold sores, but is very expensive. Steep multiple batches of leaves in olive oil to make an infused oil, one of the many ways to enjoy this relaxing calming comforting uplifting herb all winter. Our customers last year seemed to be taking their Covid preparations for winter seriously; we went back four times to order more seed. Likes very well-drained fertile soil; wet ground may winterkill it more than cold. However, tends to self-sow in the same years that the roots winterkill. Zone 4. ~1,800 seeds/g. Especially attractive to pollinators.②
4588 Lemon Balm
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See Herb Chart in the sidebar for uses and cultural information.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.