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Melissa officinalis

Phonetic Spelling
mel-ISS-ah oh-fiss-ih-NAH-liss
Description

Lemon balm is a bushy herbaceous perennial of the mint family that is typically grown in herb gardens and border fronts for its lemon-scented leaves. It was introduced from Europe and has naturalized throughout much of North America. 

It prefers well-drained soils in sun to part shade but tolerates poor soils and drought once established. This plant will self-seed and spread by rhizomes so grow in a container if that is undesirable. Prune to remove spent flower stalks and encourage new growth for a better-looking plant. New leaves are more flavorful than mature ones.

Problems:  Powdery mildew, leaf spot, leaf blight and gray mold may occur.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Herb & Flower Cottage Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
    Variegated leaves
'Aurea'
Tags:
#bees#sun#perennial#partial sun#weedy#aromatic#herb garden#teas#lemon#dried herb#pollinator plant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aurea'
    Variegated leaves
'Aurea'
Tags:
#bees#sun#perennial#partial sun#weedy#aromatic#herb garden#teas#lemon#dried herb#pollinator plant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Melissa
    Species:
    officinalis
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The herb has been used medicinally. Dried leaves can be used in sachets and potpourri.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern Europe
    Distribution:
    Throughout much of the US
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer resistant
    Edibility:
    Leaves and flowers can be used for teas and flavorings of soups, stews etc.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Mounding
    Multi-stemmed
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Produces many viable seeds
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long-lasting
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    White flowers are borne in whorls in the axils of terminal leaves. They are tiny, two-lipped and inconspicuous and appear throughout the summer. Bees love them.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Up to 3 inches long oval, wrinkled, green leaves occur in pairs. Margins are crenate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Green stems can become somewhat wood with age.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy