Lemon balm companion planting

Companions For Lemon Balm – Learn About Lemon Balm Companion Planting

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a rambunctious plant with attractive, heart-shaped leaves and a delicate lemony aroma. A member of the mint family, lemon balm is easy to grow, even for newbie gardeners. If you’re wondering what to plant with lemon balm, read on for a few suggestions to get you started.

Lemon Balm Companion Planting

Lemon balm companion planting is a real boon in the garden, as this perennial herb attracts bees and other beneficial pollinators, while the strong, citrusy odor deters several unwelcome pests, including gnats and mosquitoes. Some gardeners even claim that lemon balm helps keep weeds in check.

Finding companion plants for lemon balm is easy, because there are really no bad lemon balm companions! However, companions for lemon balm should be plants that thrive in the same growing conditions – rich, moist, well-drained soil and full sun or light shade.

What to Plant with Lemon Balm

Most herbs, fruits and vegetables make great lemon balm companions, including the following:

  • Winter and summer squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • All members of the cabbage family (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.)
  • Apples
  • Kiwi
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Nearly any blooming plant pairs well with lemon balm, but if you’re hoping to attract pollinators, good lemon balm companions include other nectar-rich plants such as:

  • Cosmos
  • Zinnias
  • Lupine
  • Poppies
  • Allium
  • Four o’clock
  • Rudbeckia
  • Echinacea
  • Sweet peas
  • Bee balm
  • Chamomile
  • Hyssop
  • Borage

If your goal is to deter pests, worthy companions for lemon balm are:

  • Marigolds
  • Geraniums
  • Daisies
  • Asters
  • Sunflowers
  • Nasturtiums
  • Petunias
  • Lavender
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Parsley

Note: Like mint, lemon balm tends to be an aggressive grower that may take over in the garden. If this is a concern, plant lemon balm in containers to reign in rampant growth.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a rambunctious plant with attractive, heart-shaped leaves and a delicate lemony aroma. A member of the mint family, lemon balm is easy to grow, even for newbie gardeners. If you’re wondering what to plant with lemon balm, read on for a few suggestions to get you started.
Lemon Balm Companion Planting
Lemon balm companion planting is a real boon in the garden, as this perennial herb attracts bees and other beneficial pollinators, while the strong, citrusy odor deters several unwelcome pests, including gnats and mosquitoes. Some gardeners even claim that lemon balm helps keep weeds in check. Finding companion plants for lemon balm is easy, because there are really no bad lemon balm companions! However, companions for lemon balm should be plants that thrive in the same growing conditions – rich, moist, well-drained soil and full sun or light shade.
What to Plant with Lemon Balm
Most herbs, fruits and vegetables make great lemon balm companions, including the following:
Winter and summer squash
All members of the cabbage family (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.)

Nearly any blooming plant pairs well with lemon balm, but if you’re hoping to attract pollinators, good lemon balm companions include other nectar-rich plants such as:
Four o’clock
Sweet peas
Bee balm

If your goal is to deter pests, worthy companions for lemon balm are:

A look at our edibles – Lemon Balm

Every Tuesday we cover the uses and qualities of our edible Click & Grow plants. This week we’ll look at Lemon Balm.


Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) originates from Europe and it has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for around 2000 years. The plant is widely known for its health benefits. For example, it’s known that Charles V, the King of France in the 14th century, drank Lemon Balm tea every day to stay in good health.

Paracelsus, the famous Swiss-German physician, botanist, alchemist and astrologer called Lemon Balm the elixir of life. Now, there has to be some truth in that because we know that although alchemists didn’t have much success, they really were a persistent bunch. I wonder, whether some of that sturdiness came from Lemon Balm? 🙂

Overall, Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and it may grow up to 2 feet (60cm) in height. Its leaves are very deeply wrinkled and range from dark green to yellowish green in color. Hint: rub your fingers on these leaves and your fingers will smell like lemons – tart and sweet!

Culinary use
Fresh Lemon Balm imparts a subtle lemon flavor and fresh lemon fragrance, making it especially nice for fruit dishes, custards, and tea. Lemon Balm can be used both in hot and iced teas and in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. The plant is also often used as a flavoring in ice cream and its also suitable for spicing up chicken and fish dishes.
Early fresh leaves can be chopped and added to salads. As cooking destroys the fragrance, Lemon Balm should be added to already cooked recipes.

Medicinal use
Lemon Balm has several health benefits which make it an ideal plant to bolster you immune system. The plant has anti-viral qualities and therefore tea made of it is a great drink when you’re feeling under the weather. The hot tea brings on a sweat that’s good for relieving colds, flus and fevers.
Second, Lemon Balm also works as a tranquilizer. It calms a nervous stomach, colic, or heart spasms and as the plant is very gentle, it’s often suggested as treatment for children and babies.
Various studies have also shown that Lemon Balm is effective in reducing stress and there have been studies where the use Lemon of Balm has shown to improve mood and mental performance. I guess Lemon Balm truly is the source of the alchemists persistence!

Next week we’ll look at Chilli pepper!

Melissa Oficinalis: Growing and Using Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has antiviral, antispasmodic and sedative properties, making it a soothing stomach tonic and gentle natural sleep and anti-anxiety aid.The plant leaves and essential oils contain caffeic acid and ferulic acid which provide protection from carcinogens, prevent inflammation, suppress bacteria and fungi and have antioxidant properties. Medicinal uses for lemon balm include teas for stomach aches, digestive and sleep aids, and flu and fever reducer; poultices to relieve boils and skin sores from chicken pox and shingles; and creams and salves for skin conditioners, toning and brightening. It’s easy to turn a bountiful harvest into a supply of capsules containing dried, powdered lemon balm to take for headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety, fever or indigestion.

Fresh lemon balm works wonders in the bath as well, strewn in hot water with rose petals and lavender, or floated in a newly cleaned toilet bowl. A couple of freshly cut sprigs steeped overnight in filtered water makes a refreshing natural hair rinse after shampooing, or a lovely light toilet water sprayed on arms and legs after a shower. Steep it in filtered water and witch hazel for a facial skin toner. Lemon balm leaves make great dream pillow filling, cut fresh and stuffed into clean cheesecloth or muslin tied with silk ribbon to tuck into your pillow case before sleep. Mix them with fresh cut lavender flowers and spearmint leaves for an even more relaxing, dream-friendly sachet.

Lemon balm is incredibly easy to grow in the herb garden, in flower beds and in containers. It starts easily from seed or plant divisions. It is drought tolerant, grows well in most soils, and produces flowers that are sweet smelling and attractive to bees. Plant lemon balm near apple trees and vegetable gardens where pollination is important to attract bees, and near beehives to calm and retain bees. Whether you grow a lot of lemon balm in the garden or just one pot of it on the deck, you will be delighted with this sweet, bountiful herb.


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Lemon balm benefits the body in a spectrum of amazing ways, but it also carries risks. Discover how you can incorporate the bright flavor and support of lemon balm into your healthy living routine.

This post contains affiliate links.

I grow my own lemon balm here on the farm. It’s easy as pie to pull off. I use a jug sowing method in the spring to start my seeds and they come up really easily. From there, the perennial plant (which is a member of the mint family) grows and spreads on its own and will stay vigorous right up until frost.

Lemon balm is a wonderful container herb–if you don’t have space for it to spread in the ground, just put this little wonder in a pot.

But what does it actually do for you? More than you might realize!

**Of course, you should never start any herbal therapies until you talk to your doctor and get the green light. So make sure you do that first–especially if you have any health conditions or take prescription medications.**

Lemon Balm Benefits

  1. Lowers triglycerides–When used aromatically (that means you breathe it in) Melissa essential oil (which is lemon balm) has been shown to lower triglycerides which could impact a variety of other health conditions.
  2. Treats heart palpitations–Use caution if you plan to try lemon balm for any kind of heart rhythm issue, but studies have shown that lemon balm can help reduce episodes of palpitations in some people.
  3. Natural antibacterial–With its ability to fight a spectrum of bacteria inside the body, lemon balm has shown particular effectiveness against candida–a type of yeast that can cause brain fog, digestive issues, exhaustion and more.
  4. Treats diabetes–Primarily for type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that lemon balm extract or oil is beneficial in the reduction of blood sugar levels. It is not a replacement for insulin.
  5. Calms anxiety–Despite some studies from outside sources who conflict this statement, many people say that lemon balm benefits their battle with anxiety.
  6. Treats insomnia–Lemon balm is said to help calm and offers a mild sedating effect that promotes sleep.
  7. Improves cognitive function and focus–A study of young adults who took lemon balm internally found an improvement in mood and the ability to focus.
  8. Helps manage ADHD in children–Perhaps thanks to its calming effect, lemon balm reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness and improves focus for some school children.
  9. Fights the herpes virus–Even though there’s no way to ever get the herpes virus out of your body, you can focus on preventing outbreaks and that means keeping the virus under control. For cold sore sufferers, lemon balm reduced outbreaks, duration and pain/itching. Plus there’s no viral resistance to the herb over time so it can be used repeatedly.
  10. Fights cancer–Lemon balm has been shown to cause cancer cell death in the deadly brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. It has also shown a positive effect on certain types of breast, liver, and some types of leukemia.
  11. Battles inflammation–Chronic inflammation can support a variety of diseases and trigger pain in the body. Lemon balm has shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  12. Manages overactive thyroid–Known as Grave’s Disease, lemon balm stops certain substances that trigger the thyroid from binding to receptor cells and helps slow down an over active thyroid.
  13. Soothes constipation–Studies are still being done but early research shows that lemon balm, peppermint and angelica root may be helpful treatments for constipation.
  14. Reduces PMS symptoms–When taken in a capsule form, lemon balm reduced those pesky mood swings, weight gain and bloating in high school age women.

When to use caution with lemon balm

Just because you can grow it, certainly doesn’t mean lemon balm benefits everyone. You should avoid lemon balm if you have a hypothyroid because it can negatively effect your thyroid medications.

Some people have had allergic reactions to lemon balm ranging from anaphylactic responses and rashes. Use caution if lemon balm is new to you.

And of course, if you are nursing or pregnant ask your doctor before you start using lemon balm.

Where to buy lemon balm

This part can get so very tricky. Always make sure you are buying oils from reputable brands like DoTerra or Young Living. Remember you’re looking for Melissa. A little goes a very long way and while it is expensive, you don’t want to use a brand that may have additives or sketchy ingredients. Lemon balm benefits can only be as good as the source you get them from.

For a capsule, you may consider one like this:

If you’d like to know more about dosages, you can check this post.

How to make lemon balm tea

I love my lemon balm tea–and while my recipe isn’t very scientific, it’s delicious and I enjoy a steaming cup several times a week and it never seems to make me feel sleepy. Even my kids enjoy it!

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm tea is a delicious way to enjoy the bright flavor and health benefits of lemon balm. 5 from 1 vote Pin Course: easy Cuisine: American Prep Time: 2 minutes Cook Time: 2 minutes Total Time: 4 minutes Servings: 1 person Author: Rachel Ballard


  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon balm leaves chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey optional


  • Chop the lemon balm leaves to release their oils. Set aside.
  • Heat the water in a cup in the microwave or on the stove until boiling.
  • Mix the leaves and water in a mug and allow to stand 10 minutes to steep.
  • Stir in honey and strain if desired. Drink warm.

You can certainly enjoy lemon balm fresh on salads, or in your favorite recipes, too. Be brave! Experiment with its bright flavor.

You can learn how to grow lemon balm in a few minutes. Lemon balm is a perennial herb that grows best in cool weather. It has lemon-scented, mint-like leaves that are often used to make refreshing, lemony hot and cold drinks. The leaves also add a tart lemony flavor to green and fruit salads as well as meats and poultry.

Get to Know Lemon Balm

  • Botanical name and family: Melissa officinalis (Lamiaceae—mint family)
  • Europe and Asia
  • Type of plant: Lemon balm is a herbaceous upright perennial.
  • Growing season: Lemon balm grows best in cool weather. In freezing temperatures, it will die back to the ground then regrow from the roots in spring.
  • Growing zones: Zones 4 to 9; lemon balm does not like hot, humid climates.
  • Hardiness: Lemon balm is cold hardy to -20°F; it only moderately tolerates heat.
  • Plant form and size: Lemon balm grows to 12 to 24 inches tall and wide; it grows in clumps of branched stems with loose terminal clusters of small white to creamy yellow flowers at the top. Lemon balm may be mistaken for mint at first glance.
  • Flowers: Small white flowers are borne in tight clusters at the axles along the length of the stems.
  • Bloom time: Lemon balm blooms throughout the summer and into fall.
  • Leaves: Lemon balm has lemon-scented, oval, toothed leaves that are heavily veined or quilted from 2 to 3 inches long arranged opposite one another on four-sided stems. Leave are coarsely toothed with a bristly surface.

How to Plant Lemon Balm

  • Best location: Plant lemon balm in full sun; it will tolerate shade.
  • Soil preparation: Grow lemon balm in well-drained, sandy loam. However, lemon balm will grow in almost any soil but not very wet soil. It prefers a soil pH of 6.7 to 7.3.
  • Seed starting indoors: Sow seeds indoors about 2 months before transplanting lemon balm into the garden after the last spring frost. Seeds require light to germinate so do not cover them or cover them only lightly with fine soil. Germination will come in about 14 days.
  • Transplanting to the garden: Set transplants in the garden after the last spring frost.
  • Outdoor planting time: Sow lemon balm in spring about the average date of the last frost. Seeds can be slow to germinate. Also, sow seed in late summer or fall. Root divisions can be planted at any time during the growing season but will become established quicker in cool weather. Cuttings from new growth can be started in moist sand.
  • Planting depth: Sow lemon balm seed ¼ inch deep; very light cover is all lemon balm needs for germination. Keep the seedbed moist until seed germinates.
  • Spacing: Thin successful seedlings to 8 inches apart and later thin plants to 18 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
  • How much to plant: Grow 4 lemon balm plants for cooking; grow 6 to 12 plants for tea and preserving.
  • Companion planting: Grow lemon balm with broccoli, cauliflower, and other cabbage family plants. The fragrance of lemon balm helps deter insects that attack cabbage family crops and also masks the smell of cabbage. Plant lemon balm with hollyhocks, angelica, and nasturtiums. Lemon balm attracts honeybees; plant it near fruit trees to aid pollination.

How to Grow Lemon Balm

  • Watering: Lemon balm requires regular, even watering. It grows best in slightly moist soil. Once established lemon balm tolerates drought.
  • Feeding: Lemon balm does not require extra feeding; side-dress plants with aged compost during the growing season.
  • Care: Lemon balm spreads by underground roots. To keep lemon balm from becoming invasive, set it in the garden in a bottomless container that will keep the roots in place. Remove unwanted plants before they become established. Cut plants back by half after flowering to encourage a second crop of leaves and a compact form. Deadhead plants to prevent self-sowing.
  • Container growing: Lemon balm can be container grown as an annual. Choose a container 6 to 8 inches deep and wide. Over-winter lemon balm in a protected area such as an unheated garage or patio.
  • Winter growing: Cut back lemon balm in fall leaving just 2 inches of stem. The plant may freeze back to the ground in winter but will re-grow from underground roots and renew itself in spring.

Troubleshooting Lemon Balm

  • Pests: Lemon balm has no serious pest problems.
  • Diseases: Lemon balm is susceptible to verticillium wilt, mint rust, and powdery mildew. To prevent these fungal diseases, keep plants sufficiently spaced to allow for good air circulation. Spray plants with compost tea during the season; compost tea is a natural fungicide.

How to Harvest Lemon Balm

  • When to harvest: Pinch off and use leaves and sprigs as needed during the growing season. Older, lower leaves have the strongest aroma. Leaves for drying are best harvested before the plant flowers in summer, usually about the time lower leaves begin to yellow. At midseason or in autumn, cut back the plant back by half; it will regrow new leaves in 4 weeks or so.
  • How to harvest: Snip leaves and sprigs with a garden pruner. The leaves bruise easily so handle them with care.

Lemon Balm in the Kitchen

  • Flavor and aroma: Lemon balm has a strong scent of lemon with a touch of mint.
  • Leaves: Use freshly chopped leaves sprinkled lightly on cooked vegetables, green salads, chicken salads, fruit salads for a lemony flavor. Serve with corn, broccoli, asparagus, lamb, shellfish, olives, and beans. Add chopped leaves to salad dressing, dips, and soft cheeses for spreads. Sprinkle chopped leaves over vanilla ice cream.
  • Cooking: Use lemon balm leaves fresh in cooking. Add lemon balm at the end of cooking to impart the best flavor.
  • Teas: Fresh or dry leaves make a refreshing, mildly lemony tea. Also, add leaves to lemonade. Infusion from fresh or dried leaves has a cool, citrus taste that calms upset stomachs.
  • Culinary complements: Combine lemon balm with dill, parsley, or lovage to add a subtle citrus flavor to sauces

Preserving and Storing Lemon Balm

  • Drying: Leaves can be stripped from stems and dried on trays in a warm shady place. Harvest nearly mature leaves for drying. Leaves must be dried quickly within two days of harvest or they will turn black. Leaves must be dried at 90°F to retain their green color. Dried leaves will not be as flavorful as fresh leaves.
  • Freezing: Fresh leaves can be frozen.
  • Storing: Dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container for about 6 months.

Propagating Lemon Balm

  • Seed: Lemon balm can be grown from seed that has been stratified (chilled or frozen) for at least 7 days; once stratified germination will happen in about 14 days. Lemon balm will self-sow in place. You can also sow seeds in place in fall for spring plants.
  • Cuttings: Root lemon balm cuttings in late spring or early summer; dip cut ends in a rooting hormone and plant stems in organic potting soil.
  • Division: Root divisions can be planted at any time during the growing season.
  • Layering: Lemon balm will root at nodes along stems when covered with soil; layer plants in spring or fall.

Lemon Balm Varieties to Grow

  • ‘Aurea’ is a variegated variety.
  • ‘All Gold’ has completely golden foliage with pale lavender flowers.

Also of interest:

How to Start a Herb Garden

Growing Herbs for Cooking

How to Grow Mint

How to Grow Thyme

How to Grow Oregano

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This refreshing lavender lemon balm iced tea is not only delicious, but it helps melt away stress. It’s so simple to make and can be enjoyed hot or iced for the upcoming summer months. Tea brewed from your own garden herbs is highly satisfying, and wonderfully nourishing.

I first discovered lemon balm a little over a year ago. The snow had finally melted away from the garden area of our little rental home, and these bushy green plants began to pop up all over the place. After a little research I learned that lemon balm (part of the mint family) is a perennial herb known for its calming and stress relieving properties. One gentle touch of the leaves and an intoxicating aroma of lemon fills the air. The scent alone lifts my spirits!

Lemon balm has also been known to calm headaches, upset stomach, menstrual cramps, and insomnia to name a few. My husband and I have been on a recent journey to treat our adrenal fatigue and lemon balm is a wonderful herb to help calm the body and promote healing.

It is well know that lavender is also a natural stress reliever. The lovely scent from its leaves, and the variety of purple flowers it produces makes it one of the most beautiful herbs to grow in a garden. I have two different varieties in my garden, but the one I used for this recipe is English Lavender (lavandula angustifolia).

You could also dry the leaves and preserve them for making tea during the winter months. This is very easy to do with a dehydrator, or by hanging to air dry as well.

It’s good to take a few moments each day and rest. This tea, adorned with a fresh lavender flower, would be the perfect companion for seeking a stress-free summer.

Other summer drinks you may enjoy:

  • Chai Tea Fauxccino (paleo-friendly)
  • Iced Chamomile Lavender Tea
  • Dairy Free Pina Colada (nonalcoholic)
  • Vanilla Lemonade

Stress Relieving Lavender Lemon Balm Iced Tea Author: April Swiger Recipe type: Beverage This refreshing lavender lemon balm iced tea is is jam-packed with stress relieving properties. Enjoy it all summer long! Ingredients

  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 1 cup fresh lemon balm leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh lavender leaves
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of raw honey per quart
  • Lemon slices and/or a lavender flower (optional)


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the lemon balm and lavender leaves to the water. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain out the leaves and pour the tea into a glass container of your choice.
  4. Stir in the honey. Enjoy this tea warm, or chill for iced tea.

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April is a follower of King Jesus, wife, mother, writer, and adoption advocate. She lives in New England where her husband serves as a worship-pastor. Her introverted nature loves to read, sip coffee, and cook nourishing food for those she loves. You can find her writing at April Swiger.

Latest posts by April Swiger (see all)

  • Stuffed Butternut Squash with Bacon, Brown Rice, and Mushrooms – September 23, 2015
  • Roasted Beet and Blueberry Salad – June 17, 2015
  • Stress Relieving Lavender Lemon Balm Iced Tea – May 15, 2015

Today is a drip-droppy rainy Spring day here in Colorado. It has been raining for days which is strange for our little community. All this quiet persistent rain is bringing the world alive with vibrant greens of every shade. Dwelling in our yard is a luscious patch of fragrant lemon balm which showing it’s colors and simply loving all of this unusual rainy weather.

Well beloved by herbalists everywhere, lemon balm is a constant companion in our garden. It is very easy to grow. Being a member of the hardy mint family, lemon balm can spread and become quite prolific. With it, my family makes all manner of delightful things. From the simplest herbal infused water to delicious sorbet and on to healing lemon balm salve, it seems that a little lemon balm brings happiness to so much!

Fresh Herbs For Family Baking

I am always looking for ways to incorporate herbs into my family’s life. We all love baking together and adding herbs to our baked goods is a wonderful way to enjoy a little plant magic in our home. So it is out into the drizzly rain to harvest a big bunch of lemon balm from the herb patch for some tasty Sunday morning scones!

I must admit that part of the inspiration for these scones comes from a little something I already have stashed away in my cupboard. That little something is a tasty lemon balm lavender infused sugar. It is so beautiful just to smell that I know it will make the perfect topping for these scones giving them a divine little crusty sweetness right on top.

Lemon Balm Lavender Sugar

  • Source:

You can easily make your own lemon balm lavender sugar. Use it for topping scones, to roll cookie dough in or add it to a cup of earl grey tea. Ingredients

Fresh lemon balm and lavender sprigs
Jar with a tight-fitting lid


  • Layer the lavender and lemon balm sprigs with the sugar inside your jar.
  • Be sure that the herbs are completely covered with sugar. This will help to preserve the herbs.
  • Every couple of days stir your herbal sugar. It will start to clump as the moisture and flavor from the herbs seeps out into the sugar.
  • After a couple of weeks your sugar is ready to use. At this point you can either remove the herb sprigs or you can put everything in a food processor and grind it up together. This is what I did. I love having happy little herb pieces remain in the sugar.
  • Store your sugar in a jar with a pretty label.

Benefits Of Lemon Balm & Lavender

Lemon balm and lavender together create a beautiful, happy flavor playing off one another. Incorporating lemon balm and lavender into your food gives it an extra boost of health and vitality that is part of the special gift herbs give us. Lemon balm and lavender are both lovely nervines that help to ease stress and relax spasms. Both plants are wonderful for the whole family to use though lemon balm has a particular affinity for children. Beyond the aromatic oils that make lemon balm smell so delightful, the herb is full of healthful vitamins and minerals.

Lemon Balm Lavender Scones

  • Source:

Adapted from Andrew Weil

These hearty scones are not your traditional buttery, flaky scone. Made with honey, olive oil and whole grains plus the nourishing addition of herbs you and your family can enjoy these tasty scones anytime!


1 egg
½ cup of honey
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one organic lemon
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup of oat bran, wheat bran or cornmeal
1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons of millet or sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon of lavender blossoms
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ to ½ cup of chopped fresh lemon balm leaves
½ cup milk
1 pint of blueberries, optional
Lemon balm lavender sugar, optional


  • If you are using blueberries combine them in a bowl with a generous sprinkle of sugar (lemon balm lavender sugar if you have it) and set aside to stew while you prepare the rest of the batter.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and oil a cookie sheet.
  • Whip together the egg, honey, olive oil, and lemon zest in one bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the lemon balm leaves. Rub the lavender blossoms between your fingers as you add them to the batter. This will help to break them up into smaller pieces.
  • Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients. You will have a very thick batter.
  • Add the milk, stirring everything together.
  • Next place generous spoonfuls of batter on the cookie sheet
  • Top with a good sprinkle of sugar for a crusty, yummy top
  • If you are using blueberries, place a small spoonful of batter on the cookie sheet. Top with a few blueberries and then add some more batter on top of the blueberries. Finish them up with a sprinkle of sugar on top.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool before removing from the cookie sheet.


Would you like to join us in baking some more healthful, tasty herbal treats?

Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Healthy Muffin Recipe With Bran & Buckwheat
  • Find a recipe for “Grandma’s Ginger Snaps” on Introduction To Herbs For Kids: Herbs Are Tasty!
  • Zucchini Summer Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • Pear Crisp With Blackberry Sage Sauce


Weil, Andrew and Daley, Rosie. (2003). The Healthy Kitchen. New York: Knopf.

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Lavender and Lemon Balm essential oils are popular in the management of older person agitation due to their ease of application, minimal side effects and low interaction with concurrent medications. This study addressed limitations in the literature to evaluate and compare effectiveness of Lavender and Lemon Balm essential oils on the agitated behaviour of older people with and without dementia living in residential aged care facilities .


Forty-nine nursing home residents with dementia (n=39) and without dementia (n=10) exhibiting agitation participated in this study. Participants were randomised to a counterbalanced, repeated measures design experiment that tests the treatments Lavender, Lemon Balm, and Placebo (Sunflower oil). Treatments were administered once daily for two-weeks followed by a two-week washout period before commencing the subsequent treatment. All participants trialed all three treatments over a 10-week period. Data were collected on the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI).


A significant difference was shown when essential oils effect were compared between the cognitive groups. Post hoc analysis reports Lemon Balm more effective in reducing NPI agitation (p = .04) and CMAI physical non-aggressive behaviour (PNAB) (p = .02) in residents without dementia. Lemon Balm less effective in reducing NPI irritability (p = 0.01) and Lavender more effective in reducing CMAI PNAB (p = 0.04) in dementia.


The findings support an opposing effect of Lemon Balm and Lavender in reducing agitated behaviour between the participant cognitive groups. There was no reduction in agitation with treatments when compared to placebo independent of cognitive groups.

“Mom,” my six-year-old called from the front walk where he had been riding his bike back and forth. He had paused in front of my display of red and purple, firework-like flowers and admired them. At an age where he wanted to know everything, it wasn’t unexpected that he would ask about the different flowers in my garden.

I looked up from the other end of the garden where I had been pulling up the weeds. “Yes, dear?”

“What are these called?” He was obviously fascinated by the flower, its vibrant color and unusual shape.

Emily-Jane Hills-Orford / Insteading

“Bee balm,” I said, choosing one of the easier names to identify the plant, knowing the other names, like bergamot, monarda, horsemint, or oswego tea might sound too abstract and lose something in the translation. Even the fact that it was part of the flowering plants of the mint family, Lamiaceae, a North American genus, would be lost on my son’s young mind. He was obviously captivated by the simple bee balm name, so may as well stick with it.

“Bee bum?” He gave me that look. “Really?”

I tried to correct him, then gave up. If he wanted to call it a bee bum, who was I to argue? The plant was a good pollinator, after all, and it did attract a lot of bees. And hummingbirds. Until I had a healthy patch of bee balms in my garden, I hadn’t been privileged with the appearance of a hummingbird. Now, even in my tiny garden in the busy suburb, hummingbirds were attracted to my bee balms. Delightful to watch.

Emily-Jane Hills-Orford / Insteading

One flitted past my son and made for one of the flowers, hovering as it stuck its long, pointed beak into the heart of the red puff.

“Is that a hummingbird?” my son asked, equally fascinated as I was.

I nodded my head. “It likes the nectar of bee balms.”

“And there’s a bee, too, Mom.” He pointed. “Now I know why it’s called a bee bum. Because bees like to bum around them.”

Emily-Jane Hills-Orford / Insteading

I chuckled and returned to my weeding; my son resumed biking up and down the drive.

That fond memory has stayed with me. When I moved to the country, I had to bring my bee balms (or bums) with me. I knew they would do well. And I was hoping they would attract lots of hummingbirds. Over the years, my bee balms have spread around my property, and I’m glad to say that the hummingbirds, the butterflies, and the bees enjoy the healthy flowers every July.

Bee Balm: A Hardy Perennial

Bee balms, with their whorled flowers, come in red, fuchsia purple, pink, and white. Grown well in soil that’s too wet or too dry, it’s a sturdy, spreading perennial that survives in many extreme conditions. I’ve had numerous seasons of drought, and although the leaves droop from lack of water, the flowers survive and continue to multiply.

I’ve also had seasons of too much rain, with flood-like conditions, and the bee balm has survived. In fact, the last season that was too wet, we had numerous double headed bee balms.

Second harvest #beebalm #wildbergamot #whatsinyourgarden #edibleflowers #🐝

A post shared by Cody Nagy (@cody_cat_astrophe) on Jul 22, 2018 at 4:56pm PDT

Since bee balm multiplies and spreads well, it’s a good plant to share with friends and transplant to different areas of the garden. My first bee balm was a gift from a friend. It started with a small patch in my urban garden, many of which I transplanted to my country property.

I have both the purple and the red varieties, and they have managed to spread throughout my many garden areas, surviving both droughts and floods. I enjoy watching the hummingbird, in particular, as it sucks the nectar from one bee balm flower after another.

A Beneficial Addition For Pollinators

The bee balms not only grow in different colors, they also grow to different sizes. The red is usually the bigger of the varieties. Perhaps that’s why the hummingbirds enjoy my red bee balms more than my purple, which is a smaller perennial. Since the plant is a good pollinator, it makes a good companion plant for other plants, like squash, that depend on the bees for pollination.

Pollination. 🐝 #flowermagic #bloom #flowerlove #flowersofinstagram #getoutdoors #floweroftheday #instaflower #naturelovers #instanature #flowerpower #flowerstagram #flowerlovers #instabloom #naturegram #myfavoriteflower #wildflower #pollination #naturephotography #bumblebee #summerflowers #illinois #midwest #enjoyillinois #igersmidwest #potd #midwestmoment #beebalm

A post shared by jodi (@cupcakemartini) on Jul 23, 2018 at 4:31am PDT

And while it attracts the pollinators, it resists the more destructive animals like rabbits and deer. Don’t get me wrong. I do love watching the elegant deer grazing in the fields and bounding through the woods, and the rabbits, especially the large jackrabbits, hopping around, but I don’t appreciate their ability to demolish an entire garden (usually mine) with great relish.

Bee balm is easy to grow, and it spreads through rhizomes (underground stems) beneath the soil. The plant loves the sun, but it can also tolerate partly shady areas, which is a good thing since most of my garden area is surrounded by groves of trees. It’s an easy plant to grow and maintain, but it does have issues like most other plants.

Powdery Mildew Problems

In the hot, humid weather of its June to late-summer growing season, the leaves often become dotted with powdery mildew, a white dust on the lower and middle leaves. It can cause deformation of the plant, defoliating it of leaves and leaving behind barren stems.

Although there’s not much that can be done to prevent this mildew, removal of the infected foliage will help prevent it from spreading. If the plant is in an area with good air circulation, you’ll have less mildew. Sadly, you may never eliminate it completely; but unsightly as a mildew-infested bee balm might be, the mildew won’t kill the plant, and it will continue to grow year after year.

Bee Balm Uses

Since it’s a major pollinator and attracts pollinating insects and birds, it’s not surprising that bee balm has some medicinal and edible attributes for humans as well. The petals from the flowers (though not the entire flower head) are edible and make a colorful garnish for salads. They can be used fresh or dried in both salads and cooked foods.

The leaves can be brewed into a very aromatic tea. It is commonly used as a cure for colds, but it’s also a good treatment for headaches, fever, sore throats, and gastric disorders. There are many other uses for bee balm preparations in alternative medicine, including a medicinal application for skin infections. The fragrant leaf and flower make it a good herb when dried for potpourri and sachets. The entire flower also dries well for dried flower arrangements.

Personally, I’m more interested in the beauty of this flower, one that blooms for most of the summer, than in its culinary and medicinal benefits. The vibrant colors remind me of a display of fireworks on a clear summer night. The fact that it attracts a great army of pollinators is an added bonus.

During a wetter-than-usual summer, you might even get lucky enough to see some rare double-headed bee balm – bonus! Plant the bee balms with equally colorful and prolific coneflowers and evening primrose, as I have done, and you’ll have an instant collage of color and diversity with the benefit of easy care.

Companion Plants for Lemon Balm

Among the more forgiving plants in the perennial world, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7, tolerates a broad range of climates and soils. This citrus-scented herb, which also adds zest to drinks and foods, has ornamental value and practical uses in the garden. This makes it a much-valued and versatile companion plant.

To Cover Shrub Bases

Lemon balm, which is shrubby and grows at least 2 feet tall, acts as a ground cover under plants that are notoriously “leggy” at their bases. Plant lemon balm at the base of such shrubs as beautyberry (Callicarpa spp., USDA zones 5 through 10) and roses (Rosa spp., USDA zones 3 through 11) or any shrubs that have become bare at the bottom. Because lemon balm takes some shade, it will tolerate overhanging branches that block sun.

In the Vegetable Patch

Whether it be its role as a pollinating plant, its strong, insect-inhibiting fragrance, or its ability to control weeds, lemon balm has a reputation for enhancing the growth of other edibles. Grow it near cabbages (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) or squash plants (Cucurbita spp.) to ward off pests. While some of the lore about lemon balm as an ally to vegetables remains anecdotal, it’s certainly a striking ornamental perennial to grow among annual vegetables.

For Contrast

When you have room for lemon balm to spread out, grow it among plants that like the same conditions it does. This approach gives you a range to choose from, given that lemon balm likes sun or light shade, lightly moist soil and also tolerates both cold and warm weather. Use its sprawling foliage as a contrast to more upright plants, such as chives (Allium schoenoprasum, USDA zones 3 through 10) or lovage (Levisticum officinale, USDA zones 4 through 8).

Attract Pollinators

Lemon balm is known as an beekeeper’s friend and an orchard herb because its flowers attract honeybees, which pollinated fruit trees. Even if you don’t have an orchard, encircling fruit trees with lemon balm will do double-duty as weed-suppressing ground covers and as bee-lures to increase fruit production.

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