So fragrant! So beautiful! Today I want to tell you three reasons why you should be growing the herb lemon balm in your kitchen garden space, and I'll give you some tips and tricks to make it happen this season.
reason #1: lemon balm is one of the easiest herbs to grow
Lemon balm isn't just easy by herb standards. Lemon balm is literally one of the simplest plants to grow ever.
My lemon balm is planted in my pollinator garden, not in a raised bed; because it doesn’t need any special soil or anything, it’s fine just in the ground.
Last year, I bought tiny, stressed out, and super dried-out lemon balm plants from a nursery, and as you can see in the picture, they’ve grown quite a bit. So much so that they’ve taken over the walkway to my kitchen garden!
This member of the Lamiaceae family, or the mint family, is a perennial, so even with Chicago’s pretty harsh winters, my plants sprang back to life on their own in March. In Houston’s warmer climate, my clients often have leaves on their lemon balm year round.
This herb wants to grow so much that it’s one I recommend not putting in your raised bed. Even though she’s not as invasive as other mints, this gal still likes to take over. Plus, as I like to say, save your precious raised bed space for pickier plants like tomatoes or peas. Lemon balm is perfect in your landscape or in a pollinator garden. Just pick a place with lots of sunlight. Then stand back and let this plant basically take care of herself.
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reason #2: you can harvest lemon balm again and again
I use weekly cuttings from my lemon balm all season long and even into the winter. I bring my cuttings inside, hang them to dry, and then use them in lemon balm teas or as spice. This herb also adds a great citrusy kick when mixed into a salad dressing or just tossed right into a salad. Lemon balm can be a little chewy, so I chop it into really small pieces to add fresh garden flavor to my meals, especially when it’s hot outside and I’m missing those crisp homegrown salads from the cool season.
I also like to arrange lemon balm stems in a vase with a bit of water and stick them around my home to add that lemony garden scent. This plant is such an easy way to bring the garden indoors again and again.
When you harvest lemon balm, cut the stems right at the base of the plant to stimulate new growth.
There's Another Herb That's Easy to Grow
Learn about growing basil here.
reason #3: lemon balm is an excellent natural pest deterrent
Lemon balm attracts the garden good gays and repels the bad guys.
The scent of lemon balm has been shown to repel mosquitoes and other bugs that… well, bug you when you’re out in your garden space. If I know I'm going somewhere I might be eaten up by mosquitoes (basically anywhere in Houston!), I’ll even take some lemon balm leaves and rub them on my skin.
When lemon balm flowers, it brings in bees and butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. (Check out other plants I recommend to attract pollinators here.)
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I hope you consider growing this super easy, fun, and beautiful plant in your garden space. Lemon balm is easy to start from seed, but if you’re thinking of adding some to your garden later in your growing season, I recommend finding a few plants from a local grower or nursery.
And if you’re a beginner gardener, don’t worry. Herbs are the easiest plants to grow in the kitchen garden, so try your hand with lemon balm and discover the joys of gardening success! Cheers!