Lemon Balm

Jude Jude
30/03/2022 · 5 minutes reading time

Help your March plant grow big and strong.

Here´s what´s ahead:

Getting Started

Lemon balm, or ‘Melissa officinalis’ according to its biological nomenclature, is one of our favourite herbs. If you have any friends called Melissa, you may know that the name in Greek means ‘honey bee’. And lemon balm certainly lives up to this name! Not only does lemon balm offer the sweet, refreshing aroma of lemons, but its blossoms provide a playground for all your honeybee friends.

The most important information at a glance:

  • Seed depth: 0.2 cm, light germinator

  • Germination temperature: 20-25 °C

  • Germination period: 14-21 days

  • Sowing indoors: March – April

  • Relocate outdoors: from May

  • Direct sowing outdoors: May – August

  • Harvest leaves: July – August

  • Row spacing: 40 cm

  • Plant spacing: 40 cm

  • Root depth: 15 cm

  • Nutrient requirements: low


Sowing indoors:

  • You can sow your lemon balm indoors in March and April.

  • Fill pots with potting soil or herbal soil.

  • Remove the of seed paper from your calendar, tear it into small pieces, and place them face down on the soil (two or three seeds per pot).

  • Water everything and place the pots on a warm and bright windowsill.

  • Do not let the seeds dry out before it has germinated.

Sowing outdoors:

  • From May you can sow directly outside in your bed.

  • Make sure your bed is weed-free.

  • Tear the seed paper from your calendar into small pieces and place them on the soil.

  • You can sow the seeds more densely to avoid gaps, as some seeds may not open. You will then have to separate them later. Or you can sow them at a distance of 40 cm.

  • Let some soil trickle over the seeds. Be aware that lemon balm is a light germinator, meaning if the soil is too thick it won´t germinate.

  • Moisten everything with a fine stream of water.


Transplanting indoors:

  • Prick out your mini-lemon balms as soon as the first leaves have unfolded.

  • Fill your new pots (diameter approx. 11 cm) with herbal soil.

  • Place only one plant in each pot, so it has enough space to grow.

  • Poke a hole in the soil with your finger.

  • Lift the lemon balm out of its seed pot with a pricking stick or a thin pencil and place it in its new home.

  • Close the hole and water all the pots.

From the pot into the bed: 

  • In mid-May, your young plants can go outside.

  • Accustom the plants to the sun for a few days before planting them in the bed. Place them in partial shade for three to four days, then in the sun for a few days. At night you should always bring them indoors so that they don't freeze. After about a week you can plant them in the bed.

  • Dig a hole deep enough to hold the lemon balm and its root ball.

  • As always, close the hole and water it.

From pot to pot/balcony box:

  • If you don't have a garden or want to keep your lemon balm on the balcony, you can plant it in a larger pot.

  • Make sure it is at least 25 cm in diameter and 20 cm deep.

  • Use herbal soil and plant the lemon balm as deep as it was in the small pot.

  • Don´t forget to water.

Separate (outdoors):

  • If you have sown your lemon balm in the bed right away, you do not need to repot it.

  • When growing in a bed you only have to make sure that the plants have enough distance from each other.

  • If they have sprouted very close to each other, pluck out weaker or sickly ones. You can also prick them out and replant them elsewhere.


  • Sunny to semi-shady

  • Work compost into the soil before planting, you can improve loamy soil with sand.

  • Good neighbours: other herbs

  • Bad neighbours: basil, fennel

zitronenmelisse nahaufnahme
You'll know that lemon balm is in the room straight away – the moment you rub a leaf between your fingers, you will notice its sweet aroma. A few sprigs will add a tasty dash citrus flavour to any of your favourite drinks.

Care for Your Lemon Balm

  • Avoid waterlogging. It only needs watering when the top 2 cm have dried out.

  • Propagate by dividing rootstocks, cuttings or seeds; also likes to sow itself.

  • In winter: Winter protection is only necessary in harsh areas. It remains its leaves close to the ground, all other parts of the plant above ground freeze; in spring it will sprout again.

Harvest & Storage

  • It is best to harvest the young shoots when the leaves are still soft.

  • If you want to dry lemon balm, cut it off shortly before flowering, and hang it upside down. After about seven days, your harvest will be dry and you can store in a screw-top jar in a dark cupboard or storage space.

  • The lemon balm is more flavourful when used fresh.


  • Lemon balm goes well with any dish that would benefit from a dash of lemon.

  • Pairs well with herb quark, lemonade and Asian dishes.

  • Don´t cook it, otherwise, it will lose its aroma.

  • Lemon balm tea: 3 teaspoons of chopped leaves per cup, add hot water and let it steep for a couple of minutes.