Lemon and Lime Balm

Lemon and Lime Balm are representatives of one of our most valuable and useful perennial herbs. New cultivars, including variegated or ?Golden? lemon balm, appear on the market regularly, since this herb can be used for many purposes, not the least of which is as a versatile landscape plant.

A member of the mint family, the balms are easy to grow but not invasive. They obliges our need for shade plants by thriving in even dense shade — in fact, the leaves are a deeper green when not exposed to bright sun.

In our area, this hardy herb grows to about 18 inches high and forms a cluster of about that width. It goes dormant in the coldest weather but returns most reliably with warm spring days. When they develop a leggy or straggly look, the balms can simply be cut back — they regain their graceful shape with no fuss at all.

The balms’ citrusy aroma and flavor make them great candidates for hot tea, or for using instead of mint in iced tea or garnishing many cooling salads and desserts. Balm’s delicate flavor doesn’t withstand cooking or drying, but the scent remains.

Growing the balms is as easy as choosing a reasonably well-drained spot and cutting it back when needed. Success will follow, as this is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow.