Family: Lamiaceae

Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis

Common Name: Lemon Balm


Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family widely grown for its leaves. They are used in many cooking, medicinal, and scent applications.

Plant TypePerennials Hardy, Site author's observations, Herbs
Hardiness Zone3
Sunlightfull, mostly sunny, with some shade
Soil & Siteaverage
Flowerssmall, two-lipped, white, appear in the leaf axils, ornamentally inconspicuous, good pollinator
Leavesedible, added to salads, soups, sauces, or vegetables to flavor teas, dried and added to sachets and potpourri, fragrant
Stemssquare, which is typical of the mint family
Dimensions1.5 to 2 by 2 plus feet (HS)
Maintenancepruning to maintain shape, pruning off the flowers is a personal choice, but doing this will increase the production of new leaves, which is usually the reason for growing this herb
Propagationseeds, cuttings
Native SiteThe species plant Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) is native to southern Europe and northern Africa. Found growing in waste places, roadsides, and disturbed lands. It has escaped cultivation and established itself in England, northern Europe, and North America.
Misc FactsThe Lemon Balm has innumerable decorative, culinary, household, cosmetic, medicinal, and aromatic uses. It was used 2000 years ago by the Greeks and was called "hearts delight." "Balm" is short for balsam, a term used for many fragrant plants. "Grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello".(#190)
Author's NotesIt is hard to walk past a Lemon Balm plant and not pick off a leaf and crush it for the scent.
Notes & Reference#44-The Complete Book of Herbs (Lesley Bremness), #144-Missouri Botanical Gardens website (, #190-Rodales Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs
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