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Basics of the Lemon Balm Plant

lemon balm
Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has a variety of different uses.  This plant has robust, hearty lemon scent with the power to calm and soothe.  Native to the Near East and Mediterranean areas, this stalky herb protects the hillsides as it varies in blooms from white to lilac.  Lemon Balm brought by American colonists from Europe was introduced to them by the Romans and has been known as the “Elixir of Life”. Lemon balm was listed as an official medication in 19th century medical books. Lemon Balm also has uses in bath additives, culinary uses and in teas.  Through Pinch of Comfort’s experience, the calming herb helps stress tension and headaches.  Other healing qualities and attributes include relieving heart disorders, depression, migraines, and regulates the menstrual cycle and restlessness in children. Children and Expecting Mothers should use half of a recipe that includes this herb.

 

Pinch of Comfort enjoys one cultivare of this plant.

Lemon Balm– Melissa officinalis – “Sweet Melissa”

This bushy perennial loves bright sunny locations with moist soil with high humus content.  Well-drained soil is best however it can grow in poor soil and partial shade.  Be cautious as the plant spreads quickly and propagates naturally.  The leaves can be harvest from May to June before it flowers.  Lemon Balm flowers individually in clusters grouped from 3-5.  The serrated edged leaves are dark green and hairy on top and light green on the bottom that is where the oil glands are located.   The riches therapeutic oil can be harvested immediately before the Lemon Balm blooms with flowers.  Be sure to cut back once it flowers to encourage a second crop. Drying this herb is very easy by cutting after the morning dew has dissipated around mid-day and hung indoors.

Lemon Balm has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves, shoots and pure essential oil. It is an easy plant to grown as long as you understand it’s growing techniques, planting times, and care.  Relax amid the soothing aroma by lightly crushing a handful of leaves and placing it on your skin will also deter those pesky bugs this time of year.

 

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