Melittis Species, Balm, Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Melittis (mel-IT-iss) (Info)
Species: melissophyllum (mel-iss-oh-FIL-um) (Info)



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Wilmington, Delaware

Louisville, Kentucky

Gresham, Oregon

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 10, 2015, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

The best thing about Melittis, or Bastard Balm as it is commonly called, is that it grows in dry shade and is resistant to heat and drought once established. It's leaves are nicely scented, a mild minty citrus sort of smell, when crushed or bruised.
NOTE: this plant was once believed to be only hardy to zone 7, probably because of its natural range. However it is hardy to at least zone 6 and has been growing in Chicago (zone 5) for several years.


On Jun 4, 2010, Samtpfote from Gresham, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

I bought this plant under the name Melittis Velvet last spring. The leaves are covered with fine hair. Mine gets the morning sun only and it trives. It has gotten so tall that I had to dig out my Columbine and plant it somewhere else because it did not get any sun anymore. There are also multiple little offsprings growing around the plant now. The only negative I have to say is that after heavy rain or strong wind the plant is going to bend down. I had to put a ring around it to keep it in place.


On Aug 31, 2001, Baa wrote:

This is from all over Europe and the Ukraine. It is typical of the dead nettle family, it has oval shaped dark green leaves with scalloped edges, which smell distinctly of honey. They retain this scent for a long time after being picked. The flowers are 2 lipped white, pink, purple, or white with a pink lower lip carried in whorls around the square stems.

A plant from woodland areas, appreciates a woodland setting and is remarkably hardy when established, tolerating some very dry conditions in summer. To keep it in top condition it prefers well drained, fertile soils in partial shade.

Very attractive to bees. Flowers May-July
Its common name may be seen as offensive so I've left it out.