I found a patch of lemon balm growing where it shouldn’t: near the base of our window well on the north side of the house. That’s typical, though, members of the mint family, like lemon balm, find their way around the yard and garden and transplant themselves wherever they choose! I did uproot the plant and will re-establish it near the chicken coop, where it’s lovely fragrance and pest-chasing qualities will keep my girls happy and healthy.
As a member of the mint family, lemon balm is an aggressive grower. The stems of this hardy perennial are not as strong as mint so the plant tends to flop over a little once it gets growing well. Plant in just about any location. In a sunny location, the essential oils get quite potent. Divide the plant by root division in spring or autumn.
In olden days, lemon balm was praised for its uplifting qualities in treating depression. It is a calming herb. It is used in skin creams and aromatherapy.
Lemon balm has a citrusy, minty flavor, so it goes well with fresh fruit salads, in teas or infused waters or in grains. I like to add lemon balm to rice when I’m serving Thai food. The leaves on the lower part of the plant have the most volatile oils. It’s also nice to add to this recipe for vitamin water.
Rita’s Lemon Balm Vitamin Water
No need to buy these trendy and sometimes expensive drinks at the store. Plus making it yourself gives you control as to what goes in – all natural, all good! This drink is full of antioxidants and hydrating.
Pour 2 quarts good quality water in a pitcher
1 large lemon or lime, thinly sliced (good for stress & immune system)
1 small cucumber, skin left on and sliced thinly (hydrating)
Palmful each: mint, lemon balm and basil, chopped (mint has potassium, calcium, magnesium & iron – good for bones & heart; lemon balm calms; basil has vit E, potassium and protein – great for skin)
Need to sweeten it? Try stevia, a natural sugar substitute, agave syrup or raw honey.
Take a spoon and smoosh everything gently. This releases the good oils of the fruit & herbs. Chill, strain and serve, garnished with a fresh herb, flower, or citrus slice. I like to add a borage flower, a cucumber substitute herb.