wisconsingal
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Lemon balm?

Any lemon balm growers here? A friend suggested I grow this. I don't know anything about it, although I have been warned that it can be aggressive.

What does it look like?
How do you use it?
Will it take over my garden?
Angela

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Lemon balm makes a terrific tea and I like it even better in tea blends. It can also give you great lemon flavor in dishes where you don't want extra liquid or acid (like lemon juice would give you). For instance, it's easily added to a butter cookie recipe without needing to alter the liquid volume significantly. It has a slightly softer, sweeter fragrance than lemon verbena (the most lemony herb I know).

It is in the mint family, so certainly can be invasive, and looks like a mint family member. Like others in the mint family, it seems to like a bit more even moisture than most herbs, but it's not terribly picky. It prefers some drainage, but can usually tolerate being a little soggy (compared to most herbs). It can also tolerate some shade and prefers it in my area of extreme heat. It won't really appreciate poor drainage, constantly soggy soil AND lower light, though. It is pretty cold tolerant, but I'm not sure to what zone. It's more than hardy to my area, even in a pot, as long as it's kept at least a little moist.

I grow mine in a large pot, but it doesn't appear to be quite as root aggressive as my other mint family members. Any of the mint family can spread readily by seed as well, so beware. I don't have experience sprouting it, as I bought a plant once and haven't yet needed to sprout the seed I bought when I thought I had lost that plant.

Hope this helps!
Sharon
USDA zone 7b/8a (depending on the year and microclimate :-)), AHS heat zone 8-9, Eastern Crosstimbers/Grand Prairie ecozones

wisconsingal
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Thanks Sharon... I'm going to have to think about this one. I have such a small space I want to be very cautious about any plant that might be invasive.
Angela

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rainbowgardener
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I have lemon balm:

[url=https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.whiteoakwaynursery.com/product_images/q/101/balm_lemon03__40694_zoom.jpg&imgrefurl=https://www.whiteoakwaynursery.com/products.php%3Fproduct%3DLemon-Balm&h=540&w=720&sz=130&tbnid=H_E2EMf5GOn38M:&tbnh=105&tbnw=140&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlemon%2Bbalm%2Bimages&zoom=1&q=lemon+balm+images&usg=__O2qzVeOoX_HZrzIHxclUlTUCbZA=&sa=X&ei=Rtc2TbHJCJKtgQeIs5i7Aw&ved=0CB8Q9QEwBA]lemon balm[/url]

in my garden, here in zone 6b. It does make a lovely addition to herbal tea blends for lemony flavor.

It is ridiculously easy to grow, because it doesn't care very much about what kind of soil, full sun, part sun, pretty shady... That also does mean it is quite aggressive. It is popping up all over my yard. It not only spreads somewhat from the roots, though not as fast as some mints, but it spreads its seeds all over the place, so it pops up in different parts of the yard, more so than other mints.

If you want to keep it limited, you could grow it in a container, but you would also have to clip all the flowers before they go to seed. Otherwise, just keep pulling all the extra as it pops up. Otherwise it will take over your yard.
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applestar
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My lemon balm: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=145807#145807

I also use lemon balm for fresh and dried herbal tea blends, stuff springs in bottles o dishwashing liquid and unscented shampoo, float them in baths, put them in dried herbal sachets, etc. VERY NICE. :wink:

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microcollie
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I'm in zone 4, as I suppose you might be? I've had lemon balm for years and, in our colder climate, have never had a problem with it's manners. It has spread slowly, and I don't find too many volunteers around. I also have had a lemon verbena, which (just my opinion) has a stronger lemon scent and is a more attractive plant. It has to come inside for the winter (normally in the form of cuttings, but is a fast grower and is pretty carefree during the summer.

wisconsingal
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Thank you all for your very helpful responses. I like the idea of trying it in a pot this year. I might do that!
Angela

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soil
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we grow LOTS of lemon balm. its a very easy plant to grow, it practically grows itself really. i just toss seeds out where i want them about now and come spring i have lemon balm. if you google lemon balm uses or growing lemon balm youll have more info than you could ever need.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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applestar
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What are YOUR favorite uses for them? Do they sell well at the market?

cazort
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Wisconsin is somewhat colder than where I grew up in PA which is colder than where I am now, but I imagine it'd be similar.

Lemon balm grows in clumps, unlike most mints which spread horizontally by runners. If you have enough of it and the right conditions, it can start to spread by seed. It is aggressive and my mom considers it a nuisance -- if you have rich soil and more delicate plants, you might want to put it in a pot. But I plant only aggressive plants which tend to hold their own against it just fine!

I've found that, contrary to what some guides say, it can be remarkably shade-tolerant. None of mine is growing in full sun, and I've seen in survive in areas where it only gets morning sun or afternoon sun and no direct sun in the middle of the day.

What to use it for? I use it for iced tea, mostly, in the summer. The leaves are just a tad fuzzy so I tend not to like putting it in salads because of the texture, even though the taste tempts me to do so. It also makes good hot tea. I gather and dry it and drink it as hot tea in the winter. It dries easily. There's some evidence it has anti-viral properties, and I find it's also somewhat relaxing.
Alex Zorach

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soil
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I've found that, contrary to what some guides say, it can be remarkably shade-tolerant. None of mine is growing in full sun, and I've seen in survive in areas where it only gets morning sun or afternoon sun and no direct sun in the middle of the day.
ill second this, i have lots of it growing in 90%+ shade. i find it likes moist areas but can wander around.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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applestar
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...and I say it's even drought tolerant! :lol:

After realizing they are pretty hardy and were starting to "take over" the garden space, I sowed seeds and transplanted unwanted ones behind the kids' swingset under the oak tree. Dry, and basically and shady until the sun starts to set, but they were the only growing things to survive this summers' drought. Their growth is spindlier and weaker compared to ones in the garden, of course, but still emits possibly even headier lemony fragrance when brushed against and/or crushed underfoot. 8) I do believe it helps against mosquitoes in the shade. When they get too tall I just snatch at them, breaking off handfuls and tossing them under the swings. I have plenty for tea and other uses too.

I do believe whether to plant "invasive" and "takes over" herbs in the ground depends on of how you use them. :lol:

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Sage Hermit
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Lemon Balm/catnip/mint/chamomile/sage/ cinnamon/ clove/ coriander seed/ ginger tea is the goods
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

Susan W
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After reading through this thread again, checking google on growing etc, think I need to add it to my herb inventory. I am thinking to go large containers, which is where most of the herbs are anyway). I did see where it can be prone to powdery mildew. I was thinking to have it in ground around the bird bath, but with powdery mildew and our hot muggy summer not a great idea. That little space gets daily splashes from the hose plus all the bird splashing water.
Have fun!
Susan

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rainbowgardener
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Mine has never gotten powdery mildew, even though there are other things in the garden that have it. My huge old lilac tree gets it every summer, and the bee balm usually does, and sometimes squash, but I've never seen it on the lemon balm.
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