Monday, August 5, 2013

The Lemon Balm Massacre of 2013

Don't get me wrong, I love lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Add a few leaves to iced tea, or throw into a pot of mint or green tea, and it infuses your beverage with its delicate lemon flavor. You can also make a simple syrup with the leaves, mix with water and pour over ice for a refreshing "lemonade". I once even made lemon balm pesto with lemon balm leaves, garlic, and olive oil and tossed it with linguine. 

However, lemon balm is in the mint family, and you know what that means- it spreads like the dickens! So much so that I am now constantly pulling up entire plants (at least I hope I am getting the entire plant) as they spread around the Garden. What was once planted simply on either side of the gate has now overrun the oregano, despite the fact that oregano does a pretty good job of spreading on its own! This year, to help curb the spread by seed, I took matters into my own hands.

In the foreground is a section of lemon balm I cut back (some to dry, some to put in a vase since I love rubbing the leaves and smelling the lemony scent) just last week. It's already rebounding and setting more flowers. Farther down are some plants that are flowering.

This large clump "volunteered" either by seed or roots. It had completely taken over the thyme and a few lavender plants. Bees are really attracted to the tiny white flowers, but I really cannot risk MORE seeds being thrown to the wind. I even dug some plants out of the White Garden this spring. At least the flower color was correct.

Post massacre. If I can keep it growing in this one border I'm fine. The chives (at the far end of the row) seem to be dense enough that it rarely penetrates their clumps. Besides, I have an entire border of chives, too, so it doesn't really matter. Around the corner is the Mint Patch, so I guess it's fitting that the lemon balm should grow next to it's cousin. Maybe that is the best plan. I can have a border of chives, a border of oregano, a border of lemon balm, and a border of mint. It might be easier to control everyone that way.

Add that to the project list.


  1. We finally buried two five gallon buckets and put the lemon balm in one and the mint in the other. It mostly works.

    1. We buried a few plastic containers for two mint plants, and that has worked, like you say, "mostly". I've thought about burying some of that thick, horrid edging plastic stuff along the garden fence to block new attacks, and then just letting it have it's way in the area it already took over.