Lemon Balm is my fifth pick for the most essential herbs you should have in your kitchen.
This article is the fifth in a series on the most essential herbs to have in your kitchen. This article is the start of the series: The Most Essential Herbs.
Identifying Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family. It is a pretty, small green leafy plant that grows to approximately 12 – 26″ and produces a light citrus aroma.
Eating Lemon Balm
Not only does lemon balm produce a citrusy aroma but also has a light citrusy flavor.
Many people use it in teas of various kinds.
You can add the leaves to any salad to give it a little hint of citrus.
Chop it finely to create a zest which you can add to your favorite scone or muffin.
Add it to vinegar to make a salad dressing, or just a light citrus vinegar.
Add into a jar / glass of fresh water to make a nice fresh herbal water drink.
Health Benefits of Lemon Balm
Here are some health tips for using lemon balm:
- naturally eases nerve and muscle tension.
- a gentle treatment for colic and upset stomach.
- chew the leaves for fresh breath.
- reduce itches from bug bites by crushing up and applying.
- crush and use as a poultice to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
- relieve gas, cramping and upset stomach.
Consuming large amounts of lemon balm should be avoided if you have hypothyroid. Do more research and talk to your primary care provider if you have this condition.
Growing Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is generally fairly easy to grow and can be an aggressive spreader. If you aren’t careful it’s one of those plants that can quickly take over your garden.
Growing lemon balm may help reduce the number of mosquitoes and other pests as it can act as a natural repellent for these insects.
Start you lemon balm growing indoors. Germination is 7 – 14 days. In the spring or fall you can move it outdoors. You can harvest lemon balm anytime during the growing season and when you do you should cut it all the way back as it will spur the plant to produce more crop.
Lemon balm enjoys full sun but if you live in a hot climate you should plan to provide it with some afternoon shade.
You will need to mulch or cover your plants if the temperature may get below freezing to avoid the roots from dying off.
Lemon balm grows best in zones: 4 – 9.