|MELISSA officinalis - Lemon Balm|
Lamiaceae; native to southern Europe.
Germination: Best sown indoors at a temperature of 55-72° and with no cover as light aids in germination. Expect germination in 10-15 days. Seeds can also be sown outdoors after all danger of frost is past in the spring, but when the soil is still cool. Outdoors, sow with barely any cover.
Growth: Transplant when there are at least two sets of true leaves. Space 12 inches apart in full sun to light shade. Site in a fertile, light, moist, well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant, but does best if kept moderately moist. To keep plants compact and to prevent straggly growth, cut or sheer them back after flowering. Cutting back also produces new leaves for harvesting.
Appearance and Use: This 24 inch tall by 12-18 inch wide plant is grown for its edible, aromatic foliage. It produces white flowers in summer that are ornamentally insignificant, but provide good bee pasture. The heart-shaped, toothed, rough, deep green leaves have a strong lemon scent and they are borne on the square stems typical of the mint family. Harvest the leaves at any time for fresh use or dry them for storage. Tender, fresh, young leaves provide the best flavor; dried leaves loose their fragrance quickly if not bottled and sealed.
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