There Melissa officinalis it’s a aromatic plant from the benefits therapeutic virtues, easy to grow in pots and directly in the ground.
Characteristics of lemon balm
There melissa officinalis also called lemon grass or lemon verbena is a herbaceous plant of the Lamiaceae family native to Europe and western Asia also cultivated as an ornamental plant.
The rustic and perennial plant, highly sought after by bees (hence the Greek name lemon balm), has a bushy appearance, very similar to nettle or mint.
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There root it is collated and is composed of numerous adventitious roots with capillary section.
The stems herbaceous, erect and variously branched, they are green in color. and in a short time they give life to bushes 40 cm high and 60 cm long in length.
The leaves, covered with a very thin hair, are bright green with an ovate – heart-shaped shape and serrated edges. The leaves of lemon balm are rich in oily substances and, rubbed between the fingers, they give off a pleasant lemon scent. In winter the aerial part is dry, but it is reproduced in the following spring.
THE flowers they have a bell-shaped shape and are gathered in pinkish-white inflorescences carried on the tops of the herbaceous twigs. The flowers of lemon balm, although small and not very decorative, attract pollinating insects and a large variety of butterflies. Pollination is therefore entomophilous.
The fruit it is an achene containing numerous very small and dark colored seeds which germinate in the following spring giving life to many new Melissa seedlings that quickly become strong and luxuriant.
Lemon balm blooms in the summer – autumn period.
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Cultivation of lemon balm
There lemon balm it grows spontaneously in cool and semi-shady places but can be easily cultivated in the shady areas of the garden and also in pots as it does not require particular care. It suffers from the heat and is not afraid of the cold or snow.
It is an aromatic plant that adapts to all types of soil even if it prefers soft, humid and well-drained ones.
To produce abundant leaves it needs regular and frequent watering, especially during the summer. In the absence of water, the leaves tend to curl and dry out prematurely. Generally the lemon balm plants grown in the spring period are satisfied with rainwater.
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To favor the emission of new shoots rich in leaves, in spring or at the end of autumn, give the base of the plant a specific granular fertilizer for green plants.
Lemon balm: cultivation in pots
This aromatic plant, also and above all appreciated for its numerous beneficial properties and its use for food purposes, can be grown in pots on the balconies and terraces of your home using specific, fresh, fertile and well-drained soil.
Repotting of melissa officinalis
Repotting of lemon balm plants should be done when the roots come out of the water drainage and generally every 2 years. The new pot must be a few centimeters larger than the previous one and new fresh soil rich in organic matter is used.
Multiplication of Melissa officinalis
The plant propagates by seed in spring but can also be multiplied by division of the tufts or by apical cutting.
There sowing it is carried out in spring or in a protected seedbed or directly at home when the period of night frosts is completely averted.
Propagation by division of the tufts
The lemon balm plant can be propagated by agamic or vegetative way also by division of the tufts.
System and combinations
The lemon balm plants are buried in well worked holes at a distance of about 30 cm from each other so that they have enough space to grow and thicken; in this period the seedlings will be watered abundantly; only when the seedlings have taken root will watering be reduced so as not to compromise the aromatic content of the plants.
Melissa plants They combine perfectly with other herbaceous aromatic plants such as mint, thyme, basil, sage and marjoram.
Frequent topping of the apex stimulates the tillering and therefore the production of new branches. In autumn, all dry and damaged stems are pruned at the base using well-sharpened and disinfected scissors. In the following spring, the lemon balm will produce new clumps of bright green leaves
Parasites and diseases of lemon balm
It is a plant sensitive to attacks by aphids and scale insects, animal parasites that form dense colonies especially between the leaf axils. Among the fungal or cryptogamous diseases it suffers from root rot if the soil is not well drained and from the white or powdery mildew that attacks the leaves with whitish dusty deposits and which generally occurs when the climate is too humid or rainy. Attached leaves turn yellow and in a short time dry up and fall off.
Cures and treatments
the lemon balm plants grown in pots do not require particular maintenance care while for those grown in the ground in the vegetable garden or in the garden flower beds it is advisable to periodically weed to prevent weeds from suffocating them. to avoid root rot it is advisable to always empty the saucer in order to avoid water stagnation. The stems and leaves attacked by parasites must be eliminated and burned.
Harvesting and conservation of lemon balm
All parts of the plant are edible and harvesting generally takes place from the second year of the plant’s life.
The leaves (collected before flowering) and flowers are tied in bunches and, like oregano, after having closed them in paper bags, they are put to dry in a ventilated place and then stored in closed containers, away from light. lemon balm can also be kept fresh and in this case the leaves must be washed under running cold water, dried in a clean cloth and then once enclosed in a food bag stored in the freezer.
Variety of lemon balm
Melissa officinalis altissima
Known by different common names: Cedronella or Citronella altissima, Herb Limona altissima Roman Lemon Balm and Wild Lemon Balm, is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 1 meter in full vegetative vigor. It has green, aromatic leaves with a pleasant orange scent. I May-July produces small white flowers. It loves normal, fresh soil and as an exposure it prefers the sun or partial shade-
Melissa officinalis golden
It is a very rustic species but less invaded and with a creeping habit. It has herbaceous stems covered with numerous green leaves which in summer take on a beautiful golden color. It is frost resistant and can easily be grown in the sun or partial shade.
A variety that differs from the others for its mottled foliage and bell-shaped flowers with pink-white petals. It is a cold-resistant perennial, also suitable for growing in pots.
Uses of lemon balm
There lemon balm it is used in numerous sectors: in kitchen to flavor dishes, flavor salads and fruit salads, prepare thirst-quenching drinks; in the distillery it is used for the preparation of liqueurs and perfumes.
Alla lemon balm, due to the high content of flavonoids and essential oils, antispasmolytic, digestive and carminative, antispasmodic and antidistonic phytotherapeutic properties are recognized). The fresh or dried leaves of this highly decorative medicinal plant possess enormous calming and relaxing power.
Meaning of the lemon balm
In the language of flowers and plants, lemon balm is the symbol of goodness and sweetness.
Is lemon balm poisonous?
At high dosages or when taken as pure essence it has narcotic and toxic effects.
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In ancient times the Carmelite nuns used the leaves of the plant for the preparation of lemon balm water, considered a natural remedy for the treatment of numerous diseases.