How to plant lemon balm properly?
How to grow lemon balm?
The plant has a strong rootstock. The medicinal and aromatic herb is perennial and grows herbaceously. Lemon balm reproduces by sprouts and by self-seeding. It has thin erect and square stems and grows between 40 cm and 90 cm tall.
The stems are hairy. The stem leaves sit on these stems in coarse veins. They are light green or yellowish-green. In addition, the leaves are ovate to cordate. The leaves grow to about 5 cm long. The tip is bluntly rounded. In addition, they are covered with small oil glands on both sides. Especially when the leaves are rubbed with fingers, the typical lemon scent is released.
What kind of flowers have lemon balm?
The flowers are white, yellowish or bluish. However, these can be seen only from the second year of standing lemon balm. Between June and August is the flowering period. Since lemon balm is a popular food plant for insects, the plant attracts numerous insects to the garden.
The ovary consists of two carpels. These break up into four one-seeded subfruits as soon as they are ripe.
Lemon balm thrives best in sunny, semi-sunny and sheltered locations. The plant can also be cultivated in a pot. However, this must be repotted very often, as lemon balm is vigorous in growth.
Lemon balm needs a permeable and not too dry soil. In addition, this must have a sufficient nutrient content. Loamy-sandy garden soil is suitable as a substrate for the pot.
One to two plants are sufficient if the plant is to be cultivated as a medicinal and aromatic herb in the home. In the spring, this can be purchased as young plants in specialized stores. In March or April, the plant can be self-sown at 15 °C to 20 °C under a glass in a box or tray. The sowing should be covered only thinly with soil. Germination occurs after 3-4 weeks. After a little 6 weeks, the seedlings can be placed outside with a spacing of 30 cm x 30 cm.
In the initial period, the young plants should be kept moist. The proliferation and spreading happens by itself in good conditions of keeping. In the environment of the plant should be hoed only carefully, since de plant develops strong shallow roots. To stimulate fresh sprouting, lemon balm should be cut back at the beginning of bud break or at the first yellowing of the lower leaves. If the plant is cultivated in a container, an organic fertilizer is recommended from April to August for every two to three weeks.
Further on lemon balm – interesting facts
Lemon balm – harvesting and preservation
The fresh leaves can be picked throughout the summer. However, in June or July, just before the beginning of flowering, most of the aromatic substances are stored. During this period, the plant should be cut off ten centimeters above the ground. In September, lemon balm can be harvested a second time. The leaves can be used fresh or dried. However, some of the flavor is lost when dried.
Winter protection or overwintering of lemon balm
Since lemon balm is frost-hardy, it only needs winter protection if it is very cold in the bed. By placing it in a greenhouse, the harvest can be brought forward to spring. Potted plants should be overwintered in a cool and bright place indoors. For this, the plants should be cut back and watered moderately. On the balcony or terrace lemon balm can be from April.
Healing effect lemon balm
For all nervous disorders, lemon balm is the right choice. Due to the essential oils, tannins, bitter substances and rosmarinic acid, the plant becomes antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. Likewise, gastrointestinal problems can be alleviated. In addition, lemon balm has a healing effect on colds and circulatory problems. In addition, this has a positive effect on herpes viruses. Lemon balm can be administered as a tea or tincture.
Use in the kitchen
In the kitchen, this herb is considered a popular seasoning herb. Many different dishes can be refined with it. So that the aroma can develop better, lemon balm should be added to hot dishes at the end. In addition, with dried leaves teas can be prepared or this can be used as a bath additive.
There are different varieties of lemon balm available. Mainly, they differ in leaf color. A bright yellow foliage we sprouted from “All God”. However, this variety does not tolerate full sun. Variegata” variety has yellow variegated leaves. The variety “Cirtonella” has a high oil content.
Binsuga” and “Limoni” have an aromatic taste. “Compacta” grows very compact and is therefore more suitable for cultivation in a pot. However, this variety does not form flowers.
By dividing the rootstock or via cuttings, older plants can be propagated. Likewise, propagation is possible via sowing. However, sowing is more costly and not worth it, because lemon balm quickly reproduces itself.
Diseases and pests
This medicinal and aromatic plant is very hardy. Thus, only occasionally appear aphids of the green scale beetle. In the rarest cases, infestation of leaf spot disease or powdery mildew is possible.
Lemon balm belongs to the labiates family. It is also known as English balm, honey hatch, heartwort or bee balm. It has also been used as a medicinal herb for over 2000 years. Lemon balm was originally native to the eastern Mediterranean region. The fact that the plant can now be found in almost all warmer areas in Europe is due to the fact that it was cultivated in large numbers by Benedictine monks in monastery gardens, among others, and it easily runs wild. Lemon balm can be found in the wild in forest clearings and along forest roads.