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Melissa officinalis

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© RHS 2002

Characteristics

Plant type

Herbs - Culinary or Herbaceous Perennial

Habit

Bushy

Fragrance

Leaf

Resilience

Hardiness

old H4 (hardy)

Colour

Flower

White and Pale Purple in Summer

Foliage

Green in Autumn, Spring and Summer

Size

Ultimate height

0.5-1 metres

Ultimate spread

0.1-0.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

2-5 years


Preferred common name

lemon balm

Family

Lamiaceae


Melissa are herbaceous perennials with broadly ovate, aromatic leaves and small 2-lipped white flowers in spikes in summer

M. officinalis is a bushy perennial with broadly ovate, lemon-scented leaves with scalloped edges, and leafy spikes of creamy-white or pale purple flowers in summer

Other common names

  • balm
  • balm leaf
  • balm oil plant
  • barm leaf
  • bee balm
  • dropsywort
  • honey plant
  • pimentary
  • sweet balm
  • sweet Mary
  • tea balm

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun
  • Part shade

Aspect

  • South-facing or West-facing
  • Sheltered

Cultivation

Grow in any moist soil, in full sun or partial shade. Protect from excessive winter wet

Soil

  • Well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam

Propagation

Propagate by seed or by division in spring or autumn

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower borders and beds or Wildlife Gardens


How to care

Pruning

Cut back hard after flowering to promote fresh leaf growth and to prevent seed setting as can be invasive

Pests

Can get leafhoppers

Diseases

Generally disease free