Uses for lemon balm in your home, garden, beauty routine, cooking, and baking – as well as lemon balm recipes, and why you need lemon balm in your garden.
Why You Need Lemon Balm In Your Garden
Last year Marie and Kim educated me about Lemon Balm, and all its goodness! I decided to look into the Lemon Balm plant a bit more, and discover why I needed lemon balm in my garden.
Lemon Balm is the common name for Melissa officinalis, for a complete dissection, read the Lemon Balm Guide from the Herb Society of America which is easy to grow from seed, rooted cuttings, or by root division. The herb thrives in full sun but can be grown in partial shade. Lemon Balm can be grown in most areas of the United States, US hardiness zones 4-9. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Lemon Balm is a perennial plant. Plant lemon balm in a pot as it will spread (and take over your garden). Lemon balm is an aromatic herb with many possible uses. Some use it to calm an upset stomach, as a sleep aid, to aid cognitive function, in place of artificial sweeteners, or in herbal teas.
Lemon balm has been a staple in herb gardens since the middle ages (some say it goes further back than that – to the ancient Greeks!) It was prized for its beneficial effects on the skin, as herbal medicine, and in cooking and baking to add flavor.
Uses for Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm Uses In Your Garden
● Attracts Bees to your garden. And we all know bees are good for pollination.
● Mosquito Repellent – It smells better than citronella. from Marie
Possible Medicinal Herb Uses of Lemon Balm
● Cold Sores – topical applications of lemon balm have proven effective at treating cold sores (oral herpes). A study published in Phytomedicine found that, when used early, a cream made with lemon balm extract reduced the number of blisters in an outbreak.
● For a Fever – … her mother always gave this to them when they were kids when they had fever. from Kim
● Tea – cooling, relaxing tea, good for anxiety or nerves.. or just a nice relaxing tea for a busy afternoon or evening. My grandmother always called it Melissa Tea. from Kim
Culinary Uses For Lemon Balm In Cooking and Baking
The light lemon flavor makes lemon balm, either fresh or dried, a great addition to many recipes.
● Candied – when candied, the leaves make attractive cake decorations. (You can even use the cooled water as an insecticide.)
● Extract Flavoring – the extract of lemon balm and the oil of lemon balm, are used for flavor in recipes.
● Fish Garnish – as a garnish for fish.
● Lemon Peel Substitute – use as a substitute for lemon peel in recipes.
● Lemon Rind Substitute – substitute for lemon rind in jam making, and marmalade.
● Salads – use fresh lemon balm leaves in salads.
● Salad Dressings – used as part of a dressing to eat with your salad (recipe below)
● Tea (recipe below)
● Vegetable Garnish – sprinkle dried leaves over fresh vegetables, especially corn and broccoli.
● Wine – the flower tips and young leaves are floated in wine or fruit cups as a flavoring and garnish.
Use of Lemon Balm in the Home
● Potpourri – dried as part of a potpourri, they add a nice scent.
● Soaps – when making soaps, a nice lemony scent.
● Rinse Aid – can be used in rinse water for clothes.
Personal and Beauty Treatment Uses of Lemon Balm
● Conditioner – a stronger infusion makes a good rinse for oily hair.
● Facial Use – a lemon balm cream for dry skin and to treat acne.
● To Treat Insect Bites – rub on fresh lemon balm leaves on your skin to soothe insect bites.
● Skin Toner – an infusion made with lemon balm leaves makes for a refreshing skin toner.
● If you have Graves Disease or use thyroid medications, use lemon balm only under medical supervision.
● If you are using sedatives, ask your doctor about using Lemon Balm.
● Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take Lemon Balm.
● Tell your doctor you are using lemon balm if you have surgery planned. The doctor may have you discontinue using lemon balm two weeks prior to surgery as lemon balm has sedative effects and might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery.
Here are a few Lemon Balm Recipes:
Lemon Balm Tea Recipe
● One Lemon Balm Sprig
● Several Mint Leaves
● Bruise the lemon balm leaves and the mint leaves with a spoon.
● Add hot water to fill the cup, allow to sit for a few minutes.
● Add honey to taste.
Lemon Balm Salad Dressing Recipe:
● ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
● 1 clove Garlic, crushed
● 1 TBSP White Wine Vinegar
● 1 TBSP Fresh Lemon Balm Leaf, chopped
● Combine the vegetable oil, crushed garlic, white wine vinegar, and chopped lemon balm leaf in a blender until liquefied.
● Keep Refrigerated.
Honey and Lemon Balm Biscuits Recipe:
● 1 cup Butter
● 1 cup Honey
● 3 Eggs
● 3 cups Self-raising Flour
● 1 TBSP Milk
● 2 tsp Lemon Juice
● 4 Lemon Balm Sprigs, chopped
● In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter with honey.
● Add eggs, beat well.
● Add remaining ingredients.
● Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes at 375°F.
Lemon Balm Insect Repellent Recipe
● Quart of Vodka
● 2-3 cups Fresh Lemon Balm Leaf
● Add the lemon balm leaf to the quart of vodka.
● Allow the lemon balm to steep for one month.
● Strain the lemon balm herb from the liquid, and pour into a spray bottle.
● Add essential oils from citronella, peppermint, and basil.
Keeps away biting flies, and mosquitoes.
Do not use on small children.
Sources and to continue further research on lemon balm:
● University of Maryland Medical Center
● NYU Langone Medical Center
● Herbal Legacy
Note: None of this is meant as medical advice. I am not a doctor and do not play one on the internet. Please consult a health care professional if you have any questions about using essential oils so your doctor can better explain to you the benefits, possible side effects, and any warnings about essential oils.
More herb posts:
● Tips for Growing an Herb Garden Year Round
● 10 Easy to Grow Herbs
● Herbs 101
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● For more Ann’s Entitled Life How Does Your Garden Grow posts, click here.
● For more Recipe posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.
Thanks Ann, I think I am going to try growing some this year if I can find it already rooted…
Me too, Debb. Even though I have Graves and drinking/eating it is probably out for me (I will ask my endocrinologist though next time I go), the rest of the applications lead me to believe I need Lemon Balm in my garden/
I have tried Lowes, CountryMax and a local nursery with no luck. Home Depot’s site says it is in stock there! I am going to try there later in the week 🙂
H. Little says
It is super easy to grow from seed. I bought my seeds as Baker Creek.
Cher Bales says
when you do find lemon balm…remember it is a mint and you need to plant it somewhere where it can “take over” and do it’s thing…. I had to move it out of my small herb garden and planted it in several spots where it now grows lushly…. same with peppermint, catnip, and my oregano….
Yup, Cher, immediate warning at the beginning of this post:
Lemon Balm is a perennial. Plant lemon balm in a pot as it will spread (and take over your garden).
Thanks for reminding people!
DWAIN BOELTER says
I am curious, does the following quote from the article give pause to anyone besides me? “You can even use the cooled water as an insecticide”. Let me see, the water from preparing this kills insects, but people are supposed to ingest it without worry about its effects? In my experience, a compound that kills things is something that one should take with great care. Not familiar with people using potatoes or spinach to kill bugs; how about the rest of you? What am I missing here?
Check out the links that are sources, Dwain.
robin f says
Natural insecticides such as lemon balm do not actually kill insects but deter them. They have evolved to produce their own protective chemicals that are useful and safe to use in many ways!
Many foods can be used as insecticide. It deters them. Such as garlic or peppermint. Google it. You’ll find lots of recipes.
These people are using the word “insecticide” wrongly. The correct definition of insecticide is “a substance used for killing insects”. Deterrents are not insecticides.
Pamela Awad says
I have enjoyed several mint varieties for many years…one of which is lemon balm. Regarding the spreading…It is easy to confine to a bed if you make sure and cut it back when it gets ready to go to seed. I have several beds of it and love it immensely…its growth habit is thick and bunched…so I do not have to worry about it running away as I do peppermint…As long as I cut it all back by at least a third when it puts up flowering stems…I let them stay a while for the bees, but not long enough to cause trouble…and if I had plans to start a new bed or extend a bed…all I have to do is let it go to seed, cut the tops out and lay them down in the area I want to grow new plants… It is about the easiest mint I have ever seen…No weeding because of the bunched growth habit and thick foliage. I LOVE it!
Even if you do nothing more than crush a leaf every so often & inhale deeply, its worth it… Smells heavenly and just the scent has a relaxing way about it.. if you like the smell of lemon anyways. 😉
Yum! Its one of my favorite plants..
Thanks so much for introducing me to Lemon Balm, Kim.
I love it also. I bought a tiny plant last August and now it is growing like mad. I took it out of my herb garden table and put it on aclarge planter and i will transplant some of it to my vegtable garden when i get it finished. Love lemon balm.
I am expanding my herb garden and I was trying to think of different herbs to try this year, I am going to have to try a lemon balm plant, I had no idea it was so versatile. Now if spring would only get here… 🙂
Well, we are coming home in a few weeks, Jennifer. We’ll be sure to bring warmer weather with us. 😉
Good luck, Karren. I hope you enjoy your lemon balm.
Alissa Apel says
Sounds like a great thing to have. I’m pinning this one. 🙂
April @ The 21st Century Housewife says
Perfect timing, Ann! I’ve just planted some lemon balm but wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it – now I know!
I have Graves’ disease and I drink Lemon Balm Tea every day. It keeps my numbers in check without taking PTU. It has worked for me for 3-4 years. My Dr. was convinced that she needed to radiate my thyroid and stopped giving me a script. I did not like her reasoning and started drinking the tea instead. Works like a charm for me! I buy it in bulk because I didn’t want to argue with it in my yard and it is cheap.
Make sure you also pick off the flowers before they seed to keep it from spreading….it’s growing in my lawn now,unfortunately, but it smells wonderful when I mow!!
Arlene @FlourOnMyFace says
Lemon Balm also makes a beautiful natural dye
Arlene Mobley says
The color depends on if you use a mordant or not. With a mordant lemon balm dyes muslin a beautiful tawny brown.
I have some examples on my old art blog.
I have some plants that look about lemon balm. I’m not sure mine are growing in the shade and do cover a large area and are getting tiny yellow flowers on them. Is that lemon balm?
I have Graves’ disease. What is the reasoning for only using under medical supervision. I doubt if an allopathic doctor even knows why, they don’t even tell you about side effects from drugs and then when you get them from the drugs they put you on, they tell you the symptoms couldn’t possibly be from the drugs.
I also have Graves. If you click on the medical links I listed under sources, the issue was a faster metabolism. When you have Graves, you know that regulating your metabolism (and your heart) is of paramount importance.
M, if your endocrinologist isn’t telling you all about the drugs you are on, even after you ask, it may be time for some research on your own (and a new doc). I am on my 5th endocrinologist, and part of the reasons I have gone through four prior (except for the guy that told me “I can’t help you anymore”) is because of the very reasons you stated. I found a lot of information online, started asking questions, had full blood panels done (that I read myself), etc.
This latest group I am with (5+ years now) readily admits that the endos don’t know it all, and all thyroid disease is very much a personal journey. Fortunately, this group is willing to work with me (I have a LOT of weird complications).
I just joined pinterest and thought I would check out your info on lemon balm. I’ve grown it for over 20 years and it smells fantastic. Little did I know when I planted it that it would grow anywhere and everywhere. Thanks for sharing all your info.
Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine how much you have, Gwen, and where! Great plant, but you are correct, it needs to be pot-planted.
Robin Coates says
Lemon balm is a wonderful plant to have. I have lots in my gardens, as well.
Have to be careful with it, because it can spread like mint (another wonderful thing) so
I just keep an eye on it, and take some out when it gets to be too much. This year I have
kept several container plants filled with it. Tastes heavenly as a tea. Wonderful chopped
into a salad. Loved reading all the uses here. Originally, I brought my lemon balm from
my family home 45 years ago when I got married. I brought some with me, every time I moved
Robin Coates says
Ooops, I meant to say ‘plant containers’.
Barbara Radisalvjeivc says
Thank you for all the ideas for what to do with all my lemon balm. I’m afraid I don’t use it as much as I should but even so, the bees make good use of it.
It is also great as a sleep aid as well as for anxiety!
KIM WOODWARD says
i have never heard of lemon balm where does a person go and get lemon balm and hoe do you grow it and could a person go to a gnc store and get things with lemon balm in it because i read it was good for oily hair and good for you skin.
I made pesto with my lemon balm last summer. My lemon balm is 3 years old. It has proved to be a hardy perennial and reseeds and spreads in my zone 4 climate.
I keep loosing mine in zone 4. I understand that it has the same atraction as honeybees scent glands and was used to attract swarms .
I’ll try again in my new garden in zone 8 .
I’m in zone 10….:-(
I got bunch of rooted lemon balm plants just few years ago and proudly put them into flower bed. After 2 years lemon balms was everywhere. It propagates by root shoots and by millions of seeds like crazy. When I thought I finally got rid of it, I learned I was wrong. Thus, be careful where you plant this herb and to slow down huge multiplying, cut off all flowers before seeds start.
Judy B says
Can you keep this in the house over the winter to use all year long ?