I have a beautiful big garden; and having a passion for farming, about 80 percent of my yard is full of different plants. For this reason, I decided to look for a herb that would grow in the shady part. After conducting a thorough study, I found that lemon balm was the best herb to include in my garden.
So will Lemon Balm grow in the shade? Lemon balm is a versatile herb that can be grown in full shade or in spotted sunlight. It is easy to care for and maintain, and can even tolerate some clipping to retain its compact shape. Studies show that Lemon balm has a long history as herbal medicine, due to its moderate calming qualities.
Lemon balm is a herbaceous perennial from the Melissa genus family. The plant grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet tall wide, respectively. It also grows best in well-drained soils and thrives in USDA zones ranging from 3 to 7.
What’s more, is that the soil can bear poor conditions but only if care is provided. If not, you’ll end up with unhealthy herbs. So, with all that information, check out some of the varieties of lemon balm.
Varieties of Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is an excellent plant that can thrive in shady areas in the garden just like LemonGrass. There are many varieties of this herb out there. This is the main reason why people find it hard to differentiate the difference. If you are one of them, check out some of the best and the most popular varieties to help you narrow down your options.
Quedlinburger Lemon Balm
Topping the list of the variety of lemon balm is Quedlinburg. This perennial variety is easy to grow since it does well in well-drained fertile soils and partial shade for better yield. Typically, it grows to a height of 30 centimeters and a width of 40 cm.
The better part is the higher amount of essential oil than other cultivators of the same plant. Besides that, it has a beautiful lemon scent and a lot of cosmetic and medicinal value.
Citronella Lemon Balm
The second best variety of lemon balm is Citronella. For it to thrive well, you must plant it for 7-21 days. Moreover, it does well in USDA zones 4-9. It is mainly planted through seeds but can also be planted outdoors during the last frost.
Variegated Lemon Balm
The third variety is variegated lemon balm, a perennial herb from the mint family. When planted on the farm, it grows to a height of 5 to 7 centimeters. But when it is planted in pots or containers, it produces the best. Having a variety of colors, it is used for culinary purposes, thanks to the mint flavor.
Aurea Lemon Balm
Aurea contains wrinkled yellow leaves that typically show up in the blooming season. It is the only lemon balm variety that can grow in poor soils among the rest of the herbs.
Growth Requirements of Lemon Balm
For Lemon Balm to thrive well, you need to consider several things such as soil, fertilizer, water, and site. If these factors are put in mind, you’ll end up with a healthy lemon balm.
Topping the growth requirements of lemon balm is fertilizer. It plays a vital role in several plants. Without adequate and the right type of fertilizer, this herb withers. However, before planting this herb, ensure that you have and conduct proper fertilization. However, it is not recommended to put much fertilizer since it will reduce the strength of the scent.
The second most important requirement is soil. This aspect determines whether the plant will thrive or die. Plant lemon balm in well-drained soils such as sandy loam to enhance blooming and good harvest. Ensure that the soil PH is 6.7 to 7.3. While doing this, note that the plant will not thrive in very wet soil.
The site plays a vital role in the growing process of lemon balm. Generally, different sites exhibit different properties. For instance, some contain loam soil while others are clay soil. Therefore, plant this herb in a well-drained site that exhibits the right type of soil for it to thrive well.
Another crucial requirement is water. As they say, water is life, and without it, no living thing can survive. Lemon balm prefers moist soil, and regular watering will enhance the production of maximum yield. But once it is well established, it can withstand drought.
Common Pests and Diseases
Growing this plant is not a walk in the park as you have to take care of it to prevent Pests and diseases. Nonetheless, it has no serious pest problems. However, it is susceptible among the common pests and diseases:
- Mint rust.
- Powdery mildew.
To prevent these diseases, space plants allow easy flow of air. To add, you can spray with a natural fungicide called compost tea.
How to Care for Lemon Balm
Now that you know the pests and diseases affecting this plant, how to care for Lemon balm.
Lemon balm spreads through underground roots. To prevent this:
- Keep it in a bottomless container in the garden to maintain the position of the roots.
- Prune unwanted plants before they develop.
- Cut the plants back in half after flowering to facilitate another batch of leaves and a compact form.
- Lastly, deadhead plants block self-sowing.
How to Propagate Lemon Balm
Lemon balm can be propagated by using seed, cuttings, division, or layering.
Lemon balm can be grown from stratified seeds for seven days. After that, germination will occur in about 14 days.
In late spring or early summer, you can root lemon balm cuttings by dip cutting ends in a rooting hormone and a plant stem in organic potting soil.
If you prefer a decision, you have an advantage since the root divisions can be planted at any time as long as it’s in the growing season.
When covered with soil, lemon balm will root at the nodes along the stems. The best time is spring or fall.
Harvesting Lemon Balm
After employing the requirements mentioned above, it’s obvious that you have a healthy herb. And what does that mean? First, of course, time to harvest lemon balm. Harvesting the plant involves snapping leaves and sprigs using a garden pruner. While doing this, handle them properly since the leaves bruise easily.
When Should you Harvest Lemon Balm?
During the growing season, pinch off and use leaves and springs as needed. While doing this, you’ll smell a strong aroma from older leaves. If you prefer to dry your leaves, harvest them before the plant blooms in summer when low-lying leaves begin to turn yellow. Cut the plant by half in autumn or midseason to enhance new growth.
Storing Lemon Balm
After harvesting, you need a perfect place to store your herb for future use. This can be done through drying, where leaves are stripped from the stem and dried. However, note that dried leaves will not be as fresh as fresh leaves.
You can also freeze the leaves to increase their life span. Lastly, you can store the dried leaves in airtight containers for about six months.
Uses of Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm is a very prestigious variety that contains several uses, including both culinary and medicinal. Among them are:
- In the kitchen, lemon balm is used to add aroma and flavor. This is because it has a strong scent of lemon and a touch of mint.
- Its leaves are sprinkled in vegetables, salads, and other meals due to the lemony flavor.
- The dry leaves are used in making the lemony tea and have a cool citrus taste.
- Medically, it helps in reducing anxiety.
- Boost cognitive function.
- Ease insomnia and other sleep disorders.
- Treats cold sores.
- Relieves indigestion.
- Reduces menstrual cramps.
- Ease headache and toothache.
- Treats nausea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can Lemon Balm Grow in Poor Soils?
A: Lemon balm is known for growing in well-drained fertilized soils. However, it can thrive in poor soils, soils that are not well fertilized. While doing this, be sure to provide maximum care.
Q: Can I Freeze My Lemon Balm?
A: After harvesting lemon balm, there are various storing methods. Among them is freezing the leaves for future use.
Q: What Amount of Light is Best for Lemon Balm?
A: For lemon balm to thrive well, plant it in partial sun and shade.
The Final Say!
Lemon Balm is an herb that grows in cool weather. It is an excellent plant to grow in your shady area of the garden. It is well-known for being lemon-scented and exhibiting mint-like leaves. Furthermore, it is used for culinary purposes and contains medical benefits such as treating toothaches and reducing menstrual cramps.
The leaves add a tart lemon flavor to fruit salads, vegetables, and meaty dishes. Nonetheless, growing it is easy as it does not contain a lot of requirements. Some of its growing properties include; site, enough fertilizer, and well-drained soils.
With these properties, you’ll end up with a healthy and maximum lemon balm yield. Furthermore, take good care of your plant by employing methods such as pruning and regular watering. In the end, you’ll be able to enjoy healthy plants and use them for different purposes.