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A picture of a Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

Also known as

Bee Balm, Balm, Balm Leaf, Balm Oil Plant, Barm Leaf, Dropsywort, Honey Plant, Pimentary, Sweet Balm, Sweet Mary, Tea Balm, Common Balm, Melissa, Bee Herb, Garden Balm, Golden lemon balm, Variegated lemon balm, Bee balm

02014.11 Melissa officinalis by Silar (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Partial Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








3 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Lemon Balm

A close up of a green Melissa officinalis plant with white flowers
A photo of Lemon Balm
A photo of Lemon Balm
A photo of Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm Overview

Melissa officinalis, commonly known by the names Lemon Balm or Bee Balm, amongst others. This plant is a hardy perennial herb from the mint family, Lamiaceae. Grown for the lemon-scented leaves. This is a great addition to any herb or medicinal garden and wonderful food for insects including bees. The word 'officinalis' means 'used medicinally', and 'Melissa' comes from the Greek for 'honey bee'.

Common problems with Lemon Balm

This plant is generally diseases and pest resistant, but can be affected by leafhoppers which can transmit plant viruses. If spotted on your plant, spray insects with warm soapy water and spray on the leaves to deter future visiting pests.

Lemon Balm Companion Plants

Cucumbers, tomatoes, fruit trees

How to harvest Lemon Balm

Leaves can be harvested throughout the year and used fresh. Leaves and flowers can also be dried or oil extracted for later use.

How to propagate Lemon Balm


Sow seeds during Spring and Summer; Sow about 6 mm deep; Germination time about 7 - 15 days.


Divide in Spring or Autumn. Replant clumps directly into new position.


Easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water.

Special features of Lemon Balm

Attracts useful insects

The flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Drought resistant

Once established, it is drought tolerant and can even be used in a rock garden.

Pot plant

Great specimen to plant in a pot as this limits its vigorous spreading habit as it tends to re-seed itself easily.

Attractive leaves

Grows vigorousy and the fragrant foliage can make a pretty background in a flower bed.

Other uses of Lemon Balm

Fragrance, medicinal, ornamental (pot pourii), beds, borders, colour


Externally used in the treatment of cold sores, insect bites, insect repellant (citronella oil), aromatherapy. Used as a tea for digestive problems, calm and relieves stress and anxiety.


Traditionally used as a calming herbal tea. Leaves and Flowers used in tea, salads and cooked foods, often in combination with other herbs. The extract and oil are used as a flavoring for ice cream.

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