Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

taken from The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Book by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing

Perennial. Thomas Jefferson grew Lemon Balm in his garden at Monticello. This upright plant (24 inches) has hairy, square, branched stems. The dark green leaves are used in meat sauces, fruit dishes and drinks. It grows best in full sun, preferably with midday shade.

The easiest way to propagate Lemon Balm is through divisions from another plant. It is somewhat invasive and giving “pieces” of the plant to friends is a good way to keep it under control. Lemon Balm will recover quickly from shearing. Cut back severely 2 to 3 times throughout the season

Harvest leaves before the plant flowers. The tender, young leaves have the best flavor. Cut the entire plant about 2 inches above ground. Dry quickly or the leaves will turn black and lose flavor. Place on a wire rack to dry and store in an airtight container. The dried leaves scent potpourris. It also is used in teas, beers and wine. The flowers attract bees to the garden.

• See also Home Garden Lemon Balm

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