How to Grow Lemon Balm – A Beginner’s Guide

lemon balm plant growing in garden
Lemon balm, which are known botanically as Melissa officinalis, are a type of herb that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing lemon balm as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Lemon Balm

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the lemon balm seeds directly outdoors in spring or fall. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when lemon balm are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Lemon Balm the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing lemon balm in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your lemon balm grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained and fertile, with added organic matter. Soil PH levels should be around 6.0 to 7.5.

1/4″ deep, 6″ apart in rows 18″ apart. 1/4″ deep, 6″ apart in rows 18″ apart. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 6-12″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your lemon balm seedlings 12-18″ apart when seedlings are 2-3″ tall.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Lemon Balm

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your lemon balm. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your lemon balm should be getting full sun to partial shade

How Much to Water Lemon Balm

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your lemon balm do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your lemon balm begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Lemon Balm to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your lemon balm grow.

It takes approximately 10-14 days to germinate, and a total of 70-90 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Lemon Balm

The best time to harvest your lemon balm is in the morning when the essential oils are the strongest.

Lemon balm can grow up to about 18-24″ tall.

What Can Lemon Balm Be Used For?

Food Use: great for flavoring teas, salads, and baked goods.

Flavor Profile: light, lemony, and slightly minty.

Can Lemon Balm Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you can plant 1 plant per 12″ container. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your lemon balm around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Lemon Balm Safe for Bees?

Yes, lemon balm are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing lemon balm is bee-friendly.

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