Lovely lemon Balm

Lovely lemon balm is easy to grow in your own herb patch.

Credit: Flickr / Jess Beemouse

Once a stalwart of the Elizabethan garden, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is easy to grow in your own herb patch or any sunny spot relieved by some afternoon shade.

While the fine-haired, toothy green leaves and tiny pale yellow/white flowers make but a modest contribution to your garden visually, bees abound where there is lemon balm and this herb is also generous to humans. Lemon balm tea was once heralded as the key to long life, and continues to be acclaimed for its soothing and revitalizing effects. Use it in the bath, too: Simply hang some of the lemony leaves in a muslin bag under the tap while you fill the tub. Hardy to zone 5 and a frequent self-seeder, lemon balm will benefit from mulch in colder areas when it dies back over the winter, or can be grown in a container if protected through the chilly months. Water normally through the summer, but allow the pot to become quite dry during the dormant season.