Growing Lemon Balm at the Allotment

Growing Lemon Balm at the Allotment

Lemon Balm is a freshly scented leafy perennial plant, where the leaves can be used to infuse dishes as well as make a refreshing lemon tea. It is easy to grow and attracts the bees with its flowers.

Lemon Balm can be grown from seed during spring to be planted out once the threat of frosts has passed. Sow the seeds in a propagator or cover with a clear lid or cling film until the first seedlings appear. Germination can take approximately 3 weeks. Keep the seeds and seedlings in a warm position.

Once, the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into their own pots.

When you plant out your Lemon Balm plants, choose a sunny or lightly shaded position in well-drained soil. Lemon Balm can be grown in containers, in compost with a mix of soil. The Lemon Balm plant will require a good watering before and after planting and regularly during dry spells.

Lemon Balm plants grow quite vigorously and, also produces flower stems reaching nearly one metre tall. If you do not wish for it to self-seed, remove the flower heads once they begin to fade. Removing the flowers will also encourage leaf growth, resulting in a bushier plant.

You may want to restrict the root area or grow in a large container because like mint, it can spread easily unless it is contained and kept under control. You can dig up clumps and divide the roots to grow on.

The flavour of the leaves is at its best before the plant flowers; it is worth harvesting plenty at this stage; especially for drying or freezing. Generally, you can pick and come again as required.

Early summer, you may need to cut your Lemon Balm plants back to encourage new, strong leaves dependent on the variety.

Keep your Lemon Balm well-watered during dry spells but do not let it get water-logged. During particularly wet periods, you may want to protect it with some shelter or move the container if that is the case, to a drier position or indoors.

Every few years you can lift clumps of Lemon Balm and divide to reinvigorate the plants.

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Growing Lemon Balm in Summary

Sowing Lemon Balm

  • Sow in propagators during March-May
  • Plant out after frosts have passed
  • Plant in a sunny or lightly shaded position

Growing Lemon Balm

  • Water during dry spells, protect against excessive wet spells
  • Remove flower heads to encourage leaf growth
  • Contain it if you do not wish it to spread

Harvesting Lemon Balm

  • Pick leaves as required July-September
  • Pick leaves before flowering for drying or freezing
  • Can be dried but will lose some flavour