Melissa Species, Balm Mint, Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Melissa (mel-ISS-a) (Info)
Species: officinalis (oh-fiss-ih-NAH-liss) (Info)



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Light Green


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

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

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Under 1"

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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

Birmingham, Alabama

Midland City, Alabama

Smiths, Alabama

Batesville, Arkansas

Solgohachia, Arkansas

Banning, California

Castro Valley, California

Elk Grove, California

Lawndale, California

Menifee, California

Merced, California

Napa, California

Santa Ana, California

Santa Cruz, California

Vincent, California

Aurora, Colorado

Delta, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Loveland, Colorado

Montrose, Colorado

New Milford, Connecticut

Bartow, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Old Town, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Welaka, Florida

Braselton, Georgia

Dacula, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Villa Rica, Georgia

Garden Valley, Idaho

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Chillicothe, Illinois

Divernon, Illinois

Quincy, Illinois

Columbus, Indiana

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Des Moines, Iowa

Ewing, Kentucky

Mount Sterling, Kentucky

Murray, Kentucky

Slaughter, Louisiana

Cumberland, Maryland

Laurel, Maryland

Prince Frederick, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Millbury, Massachusetts

Milton, Massachusetts

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

East Tawas, Michigan

Grand Haven, Michigan

Middleville, Michigan

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Columbia, Mississippi

Florence, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Ridgeland, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Cole Camp, Missouri

Marshall, Missouri

Mount Vernon, Missouri

Carson City, Nevada

Bayville, New Jersey

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Plainfield, New Jersey

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Montezuma, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Binghamton, New York

Himrod, New York

Ogdensburg, New York

Rochester, New York

Spring Valley, New York

Brevard, North Carolina

Cary, North Carolina

Ashville, Ohio

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Fort Jennings, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Medina, Ohio

Xenia, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Owasso, Oklahoma

Eagle Point, Oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Gold Hill, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Clearfield, Pennsylvania

Colver, Pennsylvania

Milford, Pennsylvania

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Souderton, Pennsylvania

Charleston, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Lancaster, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Butler, Tennessee

Clarksville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Belton, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Cibolo, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

Humble, Texas

North Richland Hills, Texas

Round Rock, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(3 reports)

Snyder, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Taylor, Texas

Temple, Texas

Wichita Falls, Texas

Ogden, Utah(2 reports)

Midlothian, Virginia

Palmyra, Virginia

Radford, Virginia

Bellingham, Washington

Bremerton, Washington

Colville, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Kennewick, Washington

Marysville, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Stanwood, Washington

Washougal, Washington

Oostburg, Wisconsin

Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin

Evanston, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 4, 2018, elliza from Portland, OR wrote:

Super invasive in my climate. I bought ONE PLANT. One. It has now spread all over my 7000 sf lot - front, back, sides. Two years in I find around 10-50 each time I weed in various stages of growth. If I don't get it quickly, the plant forms a woody, thick base with many long roots, and has to be painstakingly dug out, causing damage to anything near it. One plant.


On Jan 22, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I like the scent, but this self-sows way too aggressively for me. It's a high-maintenance plant because of the labor involved in weeding out seedlings, which otherwise will outcompete other garden plants. Deadheading isn't feasible.


On Oct 16, 2014, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Once established, this plant wants space to stretch out and grow. If you don't give plenty of space, it will take it anyway.

Drought tolerant - requires little maintenance, although adequate watering keeps it from yellowing when in a sunny position in a southern climate. Flowers are very attractive to bees.

Reseeds vigorously, but volunteer seedlings are easily weeded.

Lemon scented leaves are intoxicating (think lemon scented furniture polish), and pleasant in salads and teas.

A sound option for those who want to fill a space with an attractive, low maintenance, very useful herbal plant.


On Jul 5, 2013, TexasDollie from Dewey, AZ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Love this plant. It does best here with half a day's shade or more, given our heat. Not invasive here, so I can put it right in the ground. In fact, with our drought and heat, I have to baby it til it gets going well.

Good medicine for upset tummy, safe for kids.

Lovely in a salad,
mixed with lemon balm for herbal "lemonade"
or chopped and sprinkled into fruit salads.


On May 18, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Non-native (to me anyway) and invasive. Lemon Balm is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region.


On Apr 26, 2012, DaylilySLP from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I checked 'Positive' because I don't have any of this in my yard!
It does smell good!
It would be perfect gift for someone (that knows nothing about plants) you want to 'get back at' for something they did, or you just don't like them!


On Jul 30, 2011, calendar_girl from Blacklick Estates, OH wrote:

correction note--this is columbus, ohio not blacklick estates

For the people weeding heavily and throwing the plant away, why waste such a great food. I started using this recipe to get more organic, fresh, live food particular greens into my diet.

You can make with just lemon balm or a wide variety of other greens.

Take lemon balm (may add any green or substitute any green with this recipe, You can use any supermarket green, Asian market green or wild safe, greens) along with other greens you like from store greens like kale, parsley, leafy tops like carrot, radish, turnip, beets, watercress, celery, broccoli, collards, and swiss chard etc or plants found outdoors like strawberry leaves, daisy leaves, plantain (found growing in almost all parks... read more


On Jul 25, 2011, Hemlock93 from Butler, TN wrote:

Lemon balm is not inherently bad (it certainly has many medicinal uses), but I recommend that you ALWAYS KEEP IT CONTAINED IN A POT.

My grandmother planted lemon balm about 4 years ago in her garden, which is fairly large. She planted only a little clump of it, but four years later the lemon balm had engulfed a good portion of the garden. It was only a matter of time before it would have invaded her raised beds, and I'm sure it would have seriously inhibited the growth of other plants she was trying to grow (since it completely dominated the area near where it was planted).

It also escaped the garden and may possibly spread to other areas of our property over time. It spreads by seed as well as by root and has invaded our greenhouse too.

I have... read more


On May 22, 2011, karate626 from Laurel, MD wrote:

I love the smell of lemon! I have this planted in the border of my yard and can always snip pieces to enjoy the smell. It does spread but is pretty controllable.


On Sep 7, 2010, suentommy from Souderton, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

A couple of years ago I would have given this plant a STRONG negative. IT is very, very invasive here and is impossible to eradicate. Lemon balm does smell nice, can be used in teas, and other drinks BUT I wish someone would have told me about its spread when I planted it. The only reason that I am not giving it a negative is that for a good part of the year it makes a fairly nice ground cover on my south facing hill and drought does NOT bother it. The strong sun in fact helps to release some of the fragrance and if I keep my living room window open I get to smell its fragrance along with some butterfly bushes, which is nice. It chokes out other weeds very well. I have found one thing that seems to be even more aggressive in its spread than lemon balm and that is those wild orange ... read more


On Mar 11, 2010, CoreyR1969 from Chesterfield, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This delightfully lemon scented plant was the first herb I started out growing. It is very easy to grow and I do not find it that terribly invasive here in central Virginia. I am able to easily stay ahead of it and have found that surrounding it with plain, plastic edging seems to keep it fairly well in check. I still have to pull it from outside it's designated area once in awhile but the benifits are worth the effort.
I use my Lemon Balm in herbal teas as well as adding handfulls to regular sweet tea. Iit gives a container of sweet tea a nice, fresh lemony flavor without me having to buy lemons or lemon juice. I have not yet tried it in a salad but I probably will soon.
I also keep a small potted Lemon Balm plant on my desk at work. It is pretty and it gives the of... read more


On Nov 28, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Great foliage plant, with wonderful fragrance. I interplant this with poppies to cover their demise. It does self sow but not aggressively, and the new starts are easy to weed out.


On Oct 31, 2009, chanel6 from Winchendon, MA wrote:

I purchased a tiny piece of lemon balm, and have been amazed at the size of the plant just a few months later. We did have an unusually wet summer for our region. Also, I had composted the herb garden for the first time in years. There is strong sunlight part of the day, but patchy after that. The plant is quite large and has attracted butterflies and birds. Glad to receive warning on the invasiveness-I'll take precautions!Lol!


On Nov 28, 2007, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I LOVE Lemon Balm! Mine thrived in town where it got watered regularly and had good soil. But here where it is rocky with mostly clay for dirt, it is very slow to grow.

Mine is a transplanted 3rd year plant and has barely grown since I planted it. I truly hope it does better this next spring. I'd hate to lose it. It came from my Mom's stock, which is gone now as she passed away a few years ago.

I love it's lemon scent!


On Sep 14, 2007, SimbiDlo from Snyder, TX wrote:

One of my favorites! It may not be THAT pretty but it has some wonderful qualities. I drink tea made from it to releave insomnia and mild anxiety, works very well for me! I have heard that in order to control it better, plant it in a pot and sink the pot into the ground. Another good thing ( for me at least ) is that it can survive extreme amounts of cutting. I had to cut EVERY bit of the plant down to the roots because it got a realy bad mealy bug infestation that I couldn't get rid of. But now it is sprouting up again. I would recomened it to every one, just don't plant directly into the ground or you will never get rid of it.


On Jun 29, 2007, madamecp from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

Lemon Balm was already growing in the backyard when I bought this house a little over 2 years ago.

It is very hardy and requires no care (beyond trimming dead bits after it dies down for the Winter). Its invasiveness hasn't been an issue for me, there is a Catnip wall (the 2 plants share a patch and have gotten along fine so far) on one side and a weed/grass pit on the other. Sometimes little plants crop up in the grass, but are easily pulled up with the weeds.

I'm particularly happy to be growing Lemon Balm because I have hyperthyroidism. It makes a nice tea, and the smaller leaves add an interesting flavour to salads.


On May 29, 2007, efbiosis from Oakland, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is in a the mint family and grows with all the vigor and gusto you'd expect from a mint. The foliage makes an interesting foil against other plants but it needs to be planted either in shade or around hardy shrubs that won't be overwhelmed by its growth habits. Planting it in a container that is not completely buried will also help control it.

Without mercy or compunction I routinely rip out huge chunks for the compost heap with no ill effects to the mother plant.


On May 13, 2007, sailco from Grand Haven, MI wrote:

I find this plant self seeding, not spreading , so although considered invasive, it is easy to pull or transplant unwanted plants. The fragrance of the leaves makes up for having to handle or pull the errant little guys.


On Sep 22, 2006, momof2d from Des Moines, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I'm enjoying the tea from the plant, winter is approaching so I'll try to dry the leaves - I have'nt tried cooking with the leaves yet but I'm guessing it would be nice in salads and with fish. Mine is in a pot with Lemon grass -- the combination of the two is very pretty - both have become very large in the pot and hubby says it reminds him of the Viet Nam days, I will definetly have both of them back next spring/summer.


On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is my first time growing this herb, and I must say its an easy one to grow. They sat on a windowsill as seed and seedlings, and then I moved them under a grow light for an extra boost. Now they sit on a shelf in my kitchen, and are about 7 inches tall. Nice herb! I water when they dry out, but not overly, and they seem ok with that.


On Jun 15, 2006, HobbitHerbLover from Palmdale, CA wrote:

I am very surprised to see so many neutrals and negatives on this plant! It is one of the fastest growing and satisfying herbs I have thus grown in my garden. This is their first year, so I have not witnessed its durability in winter, but it seems to be a hardy herb. The blooms are like that of sweet basil: small, delicate, and white, in a tube-like form. They form pleasant rings around the stems of the balm plant; right now they are beginning to bloom and it is only early June. Of course, here in southern California, we have a Mediterranean climate with only wet and dry seasons (and this is the dry season.)

I find it hard to discern its smell outside, but when I picked the leaves for tea, I thought it was a true lemon I was smelling - the likeness was startling! I am not a... read more


On May 11, 2006, McCool from Millbury, MA (Zone 5a) wrote:

A former roommate planted this about 33 years or so ago. It has slowly been spreading out from the original planting in a rather shady area. While I'm usually a big fan of lemon-scented and lemon-flavored herbs (LOVE lemon basil), like Breezymeadows, I find that this one reminds me of furniture polish. I haven't tried making tea with it because of that, but now that I see that it is reported to have sedative properties, I may have to try it to combat insomnia.


On Mar 2, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very invasive in my area; however it is said to have medicinal uses. Fresh or dried leaf tea was used as a folk remedy for fevers, painful menstruation, headaches, colds and insomnia. Used as a mild sedative. The leaves were poulticed for treating sores, tumors and insect bites.


On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love the smell of Lemon Balm, and the tea reminds me of lemon drops. To keep it from self-seeding too freely, I cut it back when it blooms and feed it to my rabbits. My information says it is hardy in zones 3-10. Stratification aids germination of seeds; it is slow to germinate.


On Jul 12, 2005, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I am growing this for the first time this year, but in a pot! I grew it just for the fragrant leaves- I just love to rub and sniff them. Plant seems healthy and disease and pest free. Really easy to care for.


On Jun 27, 2005, sarahjo80 from Loveland, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

Negative for me at least! :) I just pulled one out of my mom's new house... It wasn't too bad yet, but my reason for pulling it was that it was WAY overgrown for the spot it was in, and I didn't think it'd look so nice if it were pruned back... the center was kinda lame and the outskirts of the plant were lush. Time will tell how hard it's going to be to completely eradicate it, it may spring back up from the roots I left behind.


On May 25, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love mine, it has stayed where I planted it, not invasive, 3rd year for me! I put it in my tea, I love the aroma.


On May 24, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

An easy to grow perennial herb that is a prodigious self-sower. Although not terribly particular as to growing conditions, ideally prefers sun/light shade & soil rich in organic matter. The flowers are small & nondescript, & the plant can get scraggly if not kept pinched/trimmed to maintain bushiness.

While I've used it as an ingredient in tea breads & herbal teas, & as a garnish for fish dishes & lemonade, I find the lemon scent more in line with lemon furniture polish than true lemon. In fact, I call it the "Lemon Pledge" plant - lol! It does, however, make a nice perennial addition to the herb garden, either as part of a lemon-scented herb collection or as a member of a shady bed.

In order to keep this plant from becoming an invasive pest, all you need... read more


On May 23, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

A must in every garden... can be invasive like most mints.... one of the prettiest for foliage of the large leaved mints.... large sometimes lime green crinkly leaves held tightly on stems (doesn't usually get too leggy).... grows well in average and moist soil.... also grows well in part shade..... Beautiful lemony foliage.... good in teas etc. useful as a medicinal herb (sedative) insignificant white flowers.... (but bees/butterflies love them)....


On Mar 13, 2005, Gwendalou from Langley, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have spent two days digging this plant out of our new yard and am still not done. It has obviously been here a while as the main clumps are very hard to dig out. It is cleary invasive here, having choked out other plants. (I find the little plastic nursery sticks among the clumps that indicated what it choked out!)

When I first stared to clean it up, I said to my husband, "This better be a really pretty plant for how much work it is!" I took some down to the nursery and they clued me in on what it was and how invasive it is in our area. So I have been pulling it out, knowing it will take me several years to completely eradicate it.

On a positive note - just think of all the space I am creating for new stuff!


On Apr 25, 2004, kokopelli from Montezuma, NM (Zone 5b) wrote:

Lemon Balm makes a great addition to salad. I add fresh leaves of lemon balm, oregano, orange mint and garlic chives to leaf lettuces and dress with olive oil and lemon juice or basalmic vinegar, yummmmm.


On Jan 18, 2004, Flit from Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

While I contain other mints in pots, I've found I don't really need to contain this one in my garden, I think because it's so dry where it grows that it doesn't spread very easily. It does spread, but not very quickly and it is easy to weed; it's not aggressive for me. Try this out in a contained environment first until you know its growth habit in your climate!

It is trivial to care for and makes pretty pale green clumps. The flowers are not terribly exciting. The smell is lovely and I like to use the fresh leaves in fruit salads or in tomato and cucumber salads; they combine especially well with tomato.

The fresh leaves are not very strong in teas without using a fair amount, bruised, in which case they are quite good especially if a bit of honey is adde... read more


On Aug 7, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have been trying to grow this plant for years, and not succeeding very well. Perhaps it doesn't like our long, hot and wet Southern summers. My cousin in South Georgia gave me a nice clump from her sandy yard, where it seemed quite contained and dignified in a small salad garden, but it didn't seem to like the red clay soil of North Georgia where I was living at the time, and it died out the first winter.

This spring I tried again with a seed packet, and I got exactly six plants. Four of them are slowly growing in clay pots, with good potting soil, and are holding their own against the heavy summer rains--they get beaten down, but straighten up within a few hours.

I thought lemon balm made a nice, big, medium green clump in my cousin's garden, and I want ... read more


On Aug 7, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Definitely needs to be grown in a pot to contain spreading. I have mine in a pot buried in the ground. It's not very ornamental, so I'd recommend it only if you want to use it as an herb. Actually, I was disappointed with the flavor its leaves added to my tea.


On Jan 24, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Even though it makes a great culinary herb, Lemon Balm is such an invasive plant I give it a thumbs down. It self-sows everywhere in my Zone 6 garden, sun, shade, wet, dry, everywhere. It even choked out my bed of horseradish!

Mosquitos spend a lot of daytime hours on the plant which I find curious, since another redeeming feature about this plant is that its crushed leaves work very well as a repellent. But just passing by a clump brings them all from the plant over to people.


On Aug 31, 2002, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

Lemon Balm is a marginal perennial in my Southcentral Alaska garden. It grows well over the summer, but may not return in the spring. I find it interesting that it begins its life as a dark-green leafed seedling with a close growth habit, hugging the ground. As it matures, it begins to spread more and look more mint-like.


On May 16, 2002, jerdy from Altstaedten,
Germany wrote:

We have quite a few clumps of Melissa growing in our garden. One well established clump, right on the edge of the garden and very exposed, died during this very cold winter. Although the temperatures near the house were minus 20 Celsius for some weeks, I guess that the temperatures on the exposed perimeter were nearer minus 30. This should give a rough guide to the hardiness. By the way, nearer the house the Melissa carried on spreading out as if nothing had happened! Tenacious little devil.


On Aug 8, 2001, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

Lemon balm is a wonderful herb grown for its strong lemon flavor and aroma. Plants grow up to two feet tall with white inconspicuous flowers. The leaves can be used in teas, salads, and cooking. Its leaves will loose flavor after drying so its best to use fresh.

Plants grow quickly and it spreads to form large clumps, which some gardeners consider to be aggressive. Deadheading after flowering is recommended because seedlings can be a nuisance to control. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.