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Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis 

Lemon Balm, Bee Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Balm, Balm Mint, Balm

The attractive bright green leaves of this highly touted medicinal plant exude a wonderful scent of lemon, especially when rubbed between the fingers. This was a favorite of bee keepers in ancient times as they would rub it on beehives to encourage the bees to return home to their hives and bring others with them.

Growing Info: Lemon Balm will grow well in a sunny and warm location that is sheltered from wind. Young plants should be kept damp, but when older, just water moderately. It will grow as high as 39 inches (1 meter) in the garden and about 20 inches (30 cm) in a pot. This herbaceous plant has luxuriant growth that can easily overrun closely planted neighbors. Sow seeds in spring into loamy, sandy garden soil. This perennial is hardy in locations as cold as -20 degrees F (-29 degrees C) and can be grown in sun or light shade in mild summer regions. Where summers are hot, a lightly shaded location will give the best results.

Standard Uses: A wonderful ornamental plant that will produce a delightful lemon scent as well. Helpful to attract pollinators too. Dried leaves are an excellent aromatic potpourri ingredient. A refreshing tea can be made from fresh or dried leaves. Fresh leaves add a pleasant tang to iced drinks, salads, mild-flavored fish and chicken. When used in homemade herb vinegars and jellies, the contribute an interesting citric hint of flavor. Many people add a small twig with leaves to their bathwater for a delightful herbal experience.

Medicinal Uses: A tea made from Lemon balm leaves is said to soothe menstrual cramps and helps relieve PMS. Steep on bag of lemon balm for about 5 minutes before drinking. For a more potent mixture, put 1-1/2 tablespoonfuls of the leaves into one pint of boiling water, cover, and remove from heat. Then let steep for 15 minutes before straining and drinking.