How to Plant Lemon Balm


Lemon balm, like several other members of the mint family, is a useful and edible plant that is easy to grow and beautiful to look at. However, it has another of mint's characteristics: a rampant and often invasive growth habit. So choose your area for planting carefully. Lemon balm makes a fragrant herbal tea that is tasty consumed either hot or cold and combines well with other herbs in tea blends and potpourris.

Planting Seeds

Step 1

Moisten soilless potting mix or finely sifted, good quality potting soil until it is damp.

Step 2

Transfer a shallow layer of the soil into a seed tray or pot. Firm the soil gently to settle and remove entrapped air.

Step 3

Scatter lemon balm seeds across the surface of the soil, and gently press them in with a flat block of wood or similar object. Top with a light sprinkling of fine soil to barely cover the seeds.

Step 4

Keep the tray or pot moist and in a warm place, about 72 degrees F, for two to three weeks until seeds sprout. They may take awhile to germinate, so be patient. Do not allow soil to dry out, but do not overwater or the seeds may mold and not sprout.

Step 5

Transfer the tray or pot to a sunny location, or put a grow light about 2 inches above the seedlings until sprouts have at least two true leaves.

Transplanting Seedlings

Step 1

Put dampened soilless mix or fine potting soil in several 3-inch peat pots.

Step 2

Transplant seedlings carefully to the pots by using a narrow trowel or butter knife to loosen the soil, then gently grasping each seedling by the leaves and pulling it straight up.

Step 3

Make a narrow hole in each peat pot with your finger, and place the seedlings' roots down into it so it is positioned slightly deeper than it was in the tray. Firm the soil around the roots.

Step 4

Place pots near a window or under lights to grow until after the last frost date for your area.

Setting Out in the Garden

Step 1

Use a trowel to dig holes to the depth of the peat pots and 12 to 15 inches apart in a freshly prepared garden bed. Lemon balm prefers slightly alkaline soil and full sun to partial shade.

Step 2

Place each seedling, pot and all, into each hole and firm the soil around it.

Step 3

Keep moist until they are fully established.

Tips and Warnings

  • Lemon balm can be very invasive. If you want to keep it under control, grow it in containers and deadhead the plants before they can drop seeds. Lemon balm tea is delicious, but drinking too much of it may cause headaches for some people.

Things You'll Need

  • Soilless potting mix or rich, finely sifted potting soil
  • Shallow seed tray or wide pot
  • Grow lights (optional)
  • 3-inch peat pots
  • Narrow trowel or dull butter knife


  • Herb Gardening Guide: Lemon Balm

Who Can Help

  • Old Fashioned Living: Growing and Using Lemon Balm
Keywords: planting lemon balm, growing lemon balm, using lemon balm

About this Author

Deborah Stephenson is a freelance writer and artist, who brings over 25 years of both professional and life experience to her writings. Stephenson features a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She is an anthropologist & naturalist, and has published a field guide on Michigan's flora & fauna as well as numerous political and environmental articles.