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Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)

Beginner
skill rating
1 hour care
per year
1m
Max height
0.5m
Max spread
2-5 years
To maturity

Plant details

Botanical name

Melissa officinalis

Other names

Lemon balm, Sweet Mary, Tea balm, Honey plant, Pimentary, Sweet balm, Barm leaf, Bee balm, Dropsywort, Balm, Balm leaf, Balm oil plant

Genus

Melissa Melissa

Species

M. officinalis - M. officinalis is a bushy perennial with ovate, lemon-scented leaves, and creamy-white or pale purple flowers spikes in summer.


Melissa officinalis is: Deciduous

Fragrance

Leaves are scented - hence the common name Lemon balm - and can be used to flavour refreshing, cool drinks.

Habit

Bushy, Rounded

Flower

Pale-purple, White in Summer

Foliage

Bright-green in Spring; Bright-green in Summer

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Leafhoppers Leafhoppers

Diseases

Generally disease-free.

General care

Pruning

Cut back after flowering to encourage fresh leaf production and to prevent unwanted self-seeding.

Propagation methods

Division, Seed


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Where to grow

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) will reach a height of 1m and a spread of 0.5m after 2-5 years.

Suggested uses

Beds and borders, Bees (attract & feed bees), Cottage/Informal, Flavouring food and drinks, Wildlife

Cultivation

Melissa officinalis will grow happily in any soil or aspect. Dead-head to avoid self-seeding.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Light

Partial Shade, Full Shade, Full Sun

Aspect

North, South, East, West

Exposure

Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

Companion plants

Botanical name

Melissa officinalis

Other names

Lemon balm, Sweet Mary, Tea balm, Honey plant, Pimentary, Sweet balm, Barm leaf, Bee balm, Dropsywort, Balm, Balm leaf, Balm oil plant

Genus

Melissa Melissa

Species

M. officinalis - M. officinalis is a bushy perennial with ovate, lemon-scented leaves, and creamy-white or pale purple flowers spikes in summer.

Foliage

Deciduous

Fragrance

Leaves are scented - hence the common name Lemon balm - and can be used to flavour refreshing, cool drinks.

Habit

Bushy, Rounded


Colour

Flower

Pale-purple, White in Summer

Foliage

Bright-green in Spring; Bright-green in Summer


How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Leafhoppers

Diseases

Generally disease-free.

General care

Pruning

Cut back after flowering to encourage fresh leaf production and to prevent unwanted self-seeding.

Propagation methods

Division, Seed


Monthly care advice


Where to grow

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) will reach a height of 1m and a spread of 0.5m after 2-5 years.

Suggested uses

Beds and borders, Bees (attract & feed bees), Cottage/Informal, Flavouring food and drinks, Wildlife

Cultivation

Melissa officinalis will grow happily in any soil or aspect. Dead-head to avoid self-seeding.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Light

Partial Shade, Full Shade, Full Sun

Aspect

North, South, East, West

Exposure

Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4, Zone 3

Defra's Risk register #1

Plant name

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm)

Common pest name

tomato thrips

Scientific pest name

Ceratothripoides brunneus

Type

Insect

Current status in UK

Absent

Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low - 5 is very high)

3

Impact (1 is very low - 5 is very high)

3

General biosecurity comments

Thrips present in Africa; the Caribbean and parts of Asia; frequently intercepted in the UK. Can cause significant damage to tomatoes and other crops in countries where it is present. Europe wide PRA will consider its potential to establish and cause damage.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read "Don't risk it" advice here

Suspected outbreak? Click here for contact details to report to the relevant authority.

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit: https://planthealthportal.defra.gov.uk/

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This plant likes... Garden match
Soil types: Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types) Tell us...
Soil drainage: Moist but well-drained, Well-drained Tell us...
Soil pH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral Tell us...
Light: Partial Shade, Full Shade, Full Sun Tell us...
Aspect: North, South, East, West Tell us...
Exposure: Exposed, Sheltered Tell us...
Hardiness: Hardy (H4) Tell us...

DISCUSS THIS PLANT

Melissa offcinalis

Lemon balm is closely related to mint but has a milder taste and a less invasive habit. Its flowers are very attractive to bees: its botanical name, Melissa, is the Greek for bee. The lemon-scented… read more

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