How to Grow Lemon Balm Plant: Master Gardening Guide

How to Grow Lemon Balm Plant
16 min reading time

Are you looking to add a new herb to your garden that is both aromatic and versatile? Look no further than the lemon balm plant! With its lemon-scented leaves and delicate flowers, this herb is both beautiful and useful in a variety of culinary, medicinal, and aromatic applications.

If you’re new to gardening or simply new to growing lemon balm, don’t worry! In this section, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of cultivating this wonderful herb in your own backyard. From planting to harvesting, we’ll cover all the essential tips and tricks on how to grow lemon balm plant so that it thrives and brings joy to your life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lemon balm is a versatile herb with various culinary, medicinal, and aromatic uses.
  • Growing lemon balm requires proper planting, maintenance, and pruning.
  • Harvesting and preserving lemon balm is crucial to maximizing its flavor and aroma.
  • Lemon balm offers a range of benefits for health and well-being, including stress-relief and natural remedies.
  • Container gardening is a great way to grow lemon balm in limited space.

Understanding Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a fragrant herb with a bright, lemony scent. Native to the Mediterranean region, lemon balm is now grown worldwide for its culinary and medicinal uses. Growing lemon balm is relatively easy, but it requires proper care and attention to thrive.

Lemon Balm Care

When it comes to caring for your lemon balm plant, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  • Light: Lemon balm prefers full sun to partial shade, with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If grown indoors, place the plant near a sunny window.
  • Water: Lemon balm likes moist, well-draining soil. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry, but do not overwater as this can lead to root rot.
  • Soil: Lemon balm thrives in loamy, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. If your soil is too acidic, add lime or wood ashes to raise the pH.
  • Fertilizer: Lemon balm is a light feeder and does not require heavy fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season for optimal growth.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your lemon balm plant remains healthy and robust, providing you with year-round enjoyment of its aromatic foliage and delicate flowers.

Lemon Balm Cultivation

Lemon balm can be propagated either through seeds or cuttings. Here’s how to get started:

  • Seeds: Sow lemon balm seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, or directly outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them moist. Germination usually takes 7-21 days.
  • Cuttings: Take cuttings from an established lemon balm plant in the spring or early summer when new growth appears. Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting and dip the end in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in moist soil and keep it in a warm, humid location until roots form.

Once your lemon balm plant has established itself, it will continue to grow vigorously and provide you with an abundance of fragrant leaves and flowers.

Planting Lemon Balm

Planting lemon balm is an exciting step towards growing your own aromatic herb garden. With its hardy nature and positive response to minimal care, planting and growing a lemon balm plant can be a rewarding experience for inexperienced gardeners. Follow these lemon balm planting tips for a successful cultivation journey:

1Choose the perfect spot: Lemon balm thrives in areas with full sun to partial shade, making it an excellent choice for most gardens. Choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily and has well-draining soil. Avoid planting it in an area with heavy clay soil, as it can lead to root rot.
2Prepare the soil: Prepare the soil a week before planting. Add organic matter such as compost, manure, and perlite to improve soil texture and drainage. Lemon balm prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH, ideally in the range of 6.0 to 7.5. Test the soil using a soil pH meter or kit, and adjust it if needed using lime or sulfur.
3Planting the seeds: Sow lemon balm seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist soil, ideally in early spring or early fall. Space the seeds about 18 inches apart and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Keep the soil evenly moist until germination, which typically takes about 7-14 days.
4Planting the seedlings: If you prefer to use seedlings, plant them in a hole slightly larger than the root ball. Space the seedlings about 18-24 inches apart and water them immediately after planting. Cover the base of the seedlings with a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Now that your lemon balm plant is in the ground, you can look forward to the wonderful aroma and benefits it will provide. In the next section, we will discuss how to maintain and care for your lemon balm plant to ensure optimal growth and health.

Maintaining Your Lemon Balm Plant

Now that your lemon balm plant is growing, it’s important to maintain its health and ensure it continues to thrive. Regular maintenance tasks will help prevent disease and pests from taking hold and ensure your plant grows strong and lush.

  • Watering: Lemon balm plants require consistent moisture, so water your plant regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Aim to provide 1-2 inches of water per week, either through rain or manual watering. Avoid overwatering, which can cause root rot.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to provide essential nutrients for growth. Use a slow-release granular fertilizer or liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength to avoid burning the plant.
  • Weeding: Remove any weeds or other plants that are competing with your lemon balm for resources. Ensure you remove the entire weed to prevent regrowth.
  • Pruning: Prune your lemon balm plant regularly to promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming too leggy. Cut off any dead or damaged leaves and pinch back the stems to encourage new growth.
  • Pest control: Keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, and other common pests that may attack your lemon balm. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control infestations and remove any affected leaves or stems.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around your lemon balm plant to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and provide essential nutrients. Ensure the mulch layer is no more than 2-3 inches thick and does not touch the plant’s stem.

By following these maintenance tips, your lemon balm plant will continue to thrive and provide you with its aromatic leaves for many years to come.

Pruning Lemon Balm

How to Grow Lemon Balm Plant

Pruning your lemon balm plant is a crucial step in maintaining its health and promoting bushier growth. Proper pruning can also prevent your plant from becoming too leggy and encourage the production of new leaves and flowers.

When pruning lemon balm, start by inspecting the plant to identify any dead or damaged leaves or stems. These should be removed to prevent the spread of disease and to redirect the plant’s energy towards healthy growth.

Next, use a pair of sharp pruning shears to trim back any stems that are overly long or thin. Aim to cut these stems back to just above a healthy set of leaves or nodes. This will encourage new growth and help the plant to maintain its compact shape.

You should also prune your lemon balm plant regularly throughout the growing season to prevent it from getting too bushy or overcrowded. When pruning, take care not to remove more than one-third of the plant’s overall growth at a time.

Finally, consider drying the leaves or making a tincture with them to preserve any excess harvest that may be difficult to use fresh. This way, you can have access to the benefits and the great taste of lemon balm throughout the year.

Harvesting Lemon Balm

Once your lemon balm plant has reached a mature state, it’s time to start harvesting. The best time to harvest lemon balm is in the morning when the dew has evaporated, and the sun is not too hot.

To harvest your lemon balm, simply cut the stem with a pair of pruning shears, leaving at least one-third of the plant intact. This will allow the plant to regenerate and continue to produce leaves throughout the growing season.

You can also harvest individual leaves by gently pinching them off with your fingers. Be sure not to remove more than one-third of the plant at a time, as this can stress the plant and affect its growth.

For the most flavorful leaves, harvest before the plant starts to flower. However, if you want to harvest the flowers, wait until they are in full bloom and then cut the flower stalks with pruning shears.

To preserve your lemon balm harvest, you can dry the leaves and store them in an airtight container, such as a glass jar. Alternatively, you can freeze the leaves in ice cube trays with a little water and use them in recipes as needed.

Exploring the Uses of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most popular lemon balm uses:

  • Culinary: Lemon balm has a bright, citrusy flavor that makes it a popular addition to salads, marinades, and fruit dishes. It can also be used to make tea or infused into honey or vinegar.
  • Medicinal: Lemon balm has been used for centuries to treat a range of ailments, from digestive issues to anxiety and insomnia. It contains compounds that have a relaxing effect on the body and may help reduce stress and promote calmness.
  • Aromatherapy: The fresh, citrusy scent of lemon balm can be used to create calming aromatherapy blends that promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Beauty: Lemon balm can be infused into oils or used in facial toners to help soothe and brighten the skin. It can also be used to make homemade lip balm or hair rinse.

Whether you’re a foodie, a health enthusiast, or a DIY beauty buff, lemon balm is a must-have herb in your arsenal. Experiment with different recipes and applications to discover its many benefits.

Unlocking the Benefits of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a wonderful herb that not only adds flavor and aroma to your dishes but also offers a myriad of benefits for your health and well-being. Here are some of its key benefits:

Calming propertiesLemon balm is known for its calming and relaxing effects. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia, promoting a good night’s sleep.
Antioxidant-richLemon balm contains high levels of antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This can have anti-aging effects and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Anti-inflammatoryLemon balm has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain and swelling in the body, such as headaches, menstrual cramps, and arthritis.
Immune-boostingLemon balm contains compounds that can strengthen your immune system, helping your body fight off infections and diseases.
Improved digestionLemon balm can aid in digestion by relaxing the muscles in your digestive tract, reducing bloating, gas, and indigestion.

By incorporating lemon balm into your diet or daily routine, you can experience these benefits and more. Whether you enjoy it as a tea, seasoning, or essential oil, lemon balm is a versatile herb that can add a burst of flavor and wellness to your life.

Troubleshooting Common Lemon Balm Issues

Although lemon balm is a relatively easy herb to grow, it can face certain challenges that may affect its growth and health. Here are some common issues you may encounter when growing lemon balm and how to troubleshoot them.


Lemon balm is susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, which can cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves. To prevent these pests, keep your plant clean and healthy, and avoid overcrowding. If you spot any pests, remove them manually or use an organic insecticidal soap. Neem oil can also be effective against pests.


Lemon balm may be prone to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot, especially in humid conditions with poor air circulation. To avoid these diseases, make sure your plant is situated in a well-draining soil and receives adequate sunlight and air movement. Water at the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the leaves, and remove any infected plant material. Applying a fungicide may also help prevent and control fungal infections.

Environmental Stressors

Lemon balm may exhibit signs of stress when exposed to extreme temperatures, drought, or overwatering. To avoid stress, make sure your plant is in a suitable location with consistent temperatures and moisture levels. Water your plant regularly, but avoid overwatering or letting the soil dry out completely. Provide some shade if your plant shows signs of wilting or sunburn.

With these troubleshooting tips, you can easily identify and address common issues that may arise when growing lemon balm. By taking good care of your plant and providing the ideal growing conditions, you can ensure a healthy and vibrant lemon balm plant that will reward you with its delicious aroma and myriad benefits.

Growing Lemon Balm in Containers

How to Grow Lemon Balm Plant

If you have limited space or no backyard, growing lemon balm in containers is a great solution! This aromatic herb adapts well to container gardening and can thrive in various setups, from small pots to hanging baskets.

The key to growing lemon balm in containers is to provide the right growing conditions and care. Here are some tips to get you started:

Choose the Right Container

When selecting a container for your lemon balm, opt for one that is at least 8-10 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. Terra cotta pots are a popular choice as they allow for better air circulation and drainage. Make sure the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Prepare the Soil

Fill the container with well-draining soil, such as a mix of potting soil, perlite, and sand. You can also add some organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to enrich the soil and improve moisture retention.

Plant the Lemon Balm

Once you have prepared the container, it’s time to plant the lemon balm. You can either sow the seeds directly into the soil or transplant seedlings. Make sure the soil is moist before planting and space the seeds or seedlings at least 8-10 inches apart.

Care for the Lemon Balm

Container-grown lemon balm requires regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. You can also apply a balanced fertilizer once a month to provide the plant with essential nutrients. To prevent the soil from drying out too quickly, consider adding a layer of mulch around the plant.

Harvest the Lemon Balm

When growing lemon balm in containers, you can still enjoy a bountiful harvest of leaves and flowers. Harvesting the plant regularly will also promote bushier growth and prevent it from becoming too leggy. Simply snip off the leaves and flowers as needed, and use them immediately or store them for later use.

With these tips, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of lemon balm even if you have limited space. Experiment with different container sizes and setups to find what works best for your gardening needs.


Congratulations on mastering the art of growing lemon balm! By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you have successfully cultivated a thriving plant in your own backyard or in a container garden.

Now that you have unlocked the secrets of lemon balm, it’s time to enjoy its many benefits. From its soothing scent to its culinary and medicinal uses, lemon balm is a versatile herb that can enhance your daily life.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways of incorporating lemon balm into your recipes, teas, and natural remedies. With its refreshing flavor and aroma, it’s sure to lift your spirits and soothe your soul.

Remember to continue maintaining your lemon balm plant, keeping an eye out for any issues that may arise. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing lemon balm is a rewarding and enjoyable experience that can bring you closer to nature.

So, why not start your journey to a greener, healthier garden today? Happy growing!


How long does it take for a lemon balm plant to grow?

Lemon balm plants typically take 2-4 weeks to germinate and start growing. With proper care and conditions, they can reach full maturity in about 3-4 months.

Can lemon balm be grown indoors?

Yes, lemon balm can be grown indoors as long as it receives sufficient sunlight or artificial lighting. It’s a great option for those with limited outdoor space.

How often should I water my lemon balm plant?

Lemon balm plants prefer consistently moist soil, so water them whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Typically, this means watering 1-2 times per week, depending on the weather conditions.

Can lemon balm handle full sun?

Lemon balm prefers partial shade to full sun. While it can tolerate some direct sunlight, it may benefit from some afternoon shade in hot climates to prevent leaf scorching.

How do I propagate lemon balm?

Lemon balm can be propagated through stem cuttings or by dividing an established plant. Both methods are effective for creating new lemon balm plants.

Is lemon balm invasive?

Lemon balm is known to be a vigorous grower and can spread if not contained. Consider planting it in containers or using barriers to prevent it from taking over your garden.

Can I use lemon balm in cooking?

Absolutely! Lemon balm leaves have a delightful lemony flavor and can be used in a variety of culinary creations. Add them to salads, marinades, desserts, and beverages for a refreshing twist.

What are the medicinal benefits of lemon balm?

Lemon balm is known for its calming and soothing properties. It can help reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and aid in digestion. It is also used in traditional herbal medicine for its antiviral properties.

How do I dry and store lemon balm?

To dry lemon balm, harvest the leaves and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Once fully dry, store the leaves in an airtight container away from direct sunlight to preserve their flavor and potency.

Can I grow lemon balm alongside other plants?

Lemon balm is a good companion plant for many vegetables, herbs, and flowers. It can attract beneficial insects and help repel pests, making it a valuable addition to your garden.

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