Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed in a location that will receive full sun to partial shade. Space plants 12″ apart in average soil that is well-drained. Will tolerate poor, dry soil. Drought tolerant.
Grows well in containers or mixed pots. Plant height 18-26″. Attracts predatory insects to the garden. Deer resistant.
Balm, Lemon melissa officinalis
Lemon Balm can be grown by anyone, gardener or not, in highly varied conditions. It is so easy to grow because it is very hardy and drought tolerant, it does spread easily. In fact, it is advisable to grow it in pots unless it is separate from the rest of the garden (or unless you are a very dedicated gardener who enjoys cutting back) because it tends to be invasive.
Growing it is very rewarding, though, because of its delightful lemon scent and flavor. It adds a tangy zest to any dish that is complementary to the flavor of lemon, whether it is fruit salad, fish, salad dressing, or meat marinade. Lemon Balm is also delicious in iced tea.
A frost hardy perennial, lemon balm’s leaves can be harvested at any time for fresh use. For longer term storage, harvest leaves and stems and hang upside down in small bunches, or strip leaves from stems and dry on screens or in a dehydrator on low. Dried leaves do not retain as much lemon flavor as fresh, but are excellent for making tea or potpourri. Harvest before flowering for optimum fragrance.