HomeHerb SelectionPopular HerbsGrow Lemon Balm Indoors in 5 Easy Steps

Grow Lemon Balm Indoors in 5 Easy Steps

Lemon balm is a versatile herb that has been used for centuries for its citrusy flavor and myriad health benefits. Though it flourishes outdoors in warm conditions, lemon balm can also be grown indoors year-round with proper care.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through how to successfully grow lemon balm indoors at home in 5 easy steps. We’ll cover choosing the right supplies, planting, care and maintenance, harvesting, and using your fresh lemon balm indoors. Whether you’re new to indoor gardening or want to expand your herb collection, growing lemon balm indoors is simple and rewarding.

Lemon Balm Indoors
Fresh Lemon Balm on Table

A Brief History of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, also known as “Melissa officinalis”, has been cultivated for over 2,000 years since its origins in Europe, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean region. The herb was held in especially high esteem by the Greeks, and the name “Melissa” comes from the Greek word for “honey bee” due to the plant’s popularity with bees.

Throughout history, lemon balm has been prized for both its distinct lemony aroma and its medicinal properties. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat wounds, relieve pain and insomnia, and promote overall well-being. In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to reduce anxiety, treat insect bites, and flavor drinks. Today, lemon balm continues to be valued in both the kitchen and medicine cabinet.

When grown indoors, lemon balm makes a flavorful and visually appealing addition to any herb collection. Plus, having fresh lemon balm readily available allows you to reap its many potential benefits through simple teas, tinctures, extracts, and culinary uses. The versatile plant is easy to care for and requires only minimal maintenance to thrive inside your home.

An Overview of Growing Lemon Balm Indoors

Lemon Balm Indoors
Replanting Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a hardy perennial in the mint family that can grow 1-2 feet tall and wide in the right conditions. The scrubby green leaves emit a delightfully fresh lemon scent when bruised or crushed. Tiny white flowers may bloom in late summer, followed by small nutlets of seeds.

This adaptable plant can grow well indoors with basic care. While lemon balm prefers lots of sun and fertile, well-drained soil, it can tolerate partial shade and occasional droughts once established. Inside your home, aim to recreate its ideal outdoor environment as much as possible.

When grown as a houseplant, lemon balm can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, division, or plant purchases. Potted lemon balm plants should be repotted each spring as the roots grow and thrive in indoor conditions. With regular pruning and harvesting, indoor lemon balm will continue producing fresh new growth year-round.

Keep reading for step-by-step growing instructions to enjoy fresh homegrown lemon balm indoors!

Step 1: Get the Right Supplies

Before purchasing seeds or lemon balm plants, gather these recommended supplies to get your indoor lemon balm growing:

Container with Drainage Holes

Choose a pot or planter box with several drainage holes at the bottom – this is crucial to prevent soggy soil and root rot. Aim for a container at least 10-12 inches wide and deep to accommodate lemon balm’s spreading roots and allow for repotting each spring. Ceramic, plastic, or wood planters all work well.

Quality Potting Mix

Use a general indoor potting soil or make your own mix of compost, peat moss or coco coir, and perlite. The growing medium should be loose and well-draining but also help retain some moisture.

Bright, Sunny Windows or Grow Lights

Lemon balm thrives best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Southern or western-facing windows are ideal. If natural light is limited, invest in full-spectrum LED grow lights and set up near your lemon balm plants indoors.

With the right container, soil, and light source, you’re ready to plant your lemon balm indoors!

Lemon Balm Indoors
Image Credit: Netha Hussain | License details

Step 2: Plant Lemon Balm Seeds or Seedlings

You can start lemon balm indoors from seeds or opt for established seedlings/plants that will mature faster:

Planting from Seeds

Sow seeds directly in potting mix, barely covering with 1⁄4 inch of soil. Keep the soil moist, and expect sprouting in 1-2 weeks at 65-70°F. Thin out excess seedlings. Move to your own pot once 2 sets of true leaves emerge.

Caring for Seedlings

Place seedlings in a sunny window and water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Apply diluted liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks. Transition to larger containers as lemon balm plants grow indoors.

Transplanting Garden Plants or store-bought

Gently loosen roots and re-plant in potting mix, covering the base stem. Prune any damaged leaves. Water well after transplanting and allow time to adjust before harvesting lemon balm indoors. Discard diseased plants.

Whether growing from seeds or transplants, provide consistent moisture, warmth, and light for your young lemon balm plants. Give them time to establish before frequent harvesting.

Lemon Balm Indoors
Image Credit: zrenate from Pixabay

Step 3: Provide the Right Growing Conditions

Once your lemon balm is planted, focus on dialing in these ideal indoor growing conditions:

Bright, Indirect Sunlight

Lemon balm thrives in a south or west-facing window with 6-8 hours of sunlight. Dappled sun with some shade is better than harsh direct light. Rotate pots if lighting is uneven for indoor lemon balm.

Moderate Watering and Drainage

Water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry, taking care not to oversaturate. Discard excess water in saucers after watering lemon balm indoors. Allow soil to partially dry out between waterings. Proper drainage prevents root rot.

Ideal Temperature and Humidity

Lemon balm grows best in an average room temperature of around 65-75°F and moderate humidity of 40-50%. Keep away from drafty windows, vents, or intense heat sources. Use a humidifier if the air is excessively dry for lemon balm indoors.

With its basic needs met, lemon balm can flourish in indoor conditions year-round! Just be sure to monitor closely and adjust care as needed.

Step 4: Care and Maintenance

While lemon balm is relatively easygoing, it does require some occasional maintenance:

Pruning to Prevent Flowering

Trim back leafy shoots by 1/3 throughout the growing season. This encourages bushy growth and prevents flowering, which reduces leaf production for lemon balm indoors. Use pruned stems for propagation.

Watch for Pests Like Aphids

Aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies may appear on indoor lemon balm. Wipe away with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Sticky traps help control flying pests. Remove badly infested plants to prevent spreading.

Treat Diseases Like Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew and other fungal diseases are common with lemon balm indoors. Improve air circulation and avoid wet leaves. Apply sulfur spray or baking soda solutions to disinfect affected plants.

By regularly pruning, checking for pests, and treating any diseases, you can maintain healthy and productive lemon balm plants indoors. Timely care prevents major issues down the road.

Step 5: Harvest and Use Lemon Balm

Once your lemon balm is firmly established, the rewarding part comes – harvest and use! Follow these tips:

Lemon Balm Indoors
gardener woman hand picks lemon-balm herb plant

When and How to Harvest Leaves

Harvest lemon balm leaves as needed once plants are at least 6 inches tall. Always harvest in the morning after dew dries for indoor lemon balm. Cut back stems above leaf nodes to encourage regrowth.

Preserving the Harvest

Air-dry leaves for up to 1 week or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage of lemon balm grown indoors. Fill mason jars with fresh bruised leaves and olive oil to infuse.

Using Fresh Lemon Balm

Make lemon balm tea, add to fruit/water for flavor, steep in vinegar, mix into baked goods, or use in extracts with indoor lemon balm. Chop leaves into salads, fish dishes, smoothies, and more.

Enjoy experimenting with your homegrown lemon balm indoors. Having a bountiful supply makes it easy to reap its many benefits!

Conclusion

Growing lemon balm indoors is an accessible way to enjoy this flavorful, therapeutic herb year-round. With the right container, soil, light, and care, anyone can cultivate success growing lemon balm indoors. Follow this 5-step guide to get started with indoor lemon balm.

The satisfaction of harvesting and using fresh homegrown lemon balm is well worth the modest time investment. Watch your plants flourish as you enjoy their tea, recipes, remedies, and more. Lemon balm’s versatility and hardy nature make it a joy to grow inside.

So give lemon balm a try – your kitchen, apothecary, and green thumb will thank you! This cheerful little plant can brighten any indoor garden while providing an abundance of uses.

FAQs

Why choose indoor growing?

Indoor growing allows you to cultivate lemon balm year-round regardless of your climate. You can control variables and avoid outdoor pests. It’s more convenient than garden tending.

What soil type is best?

Lemon balm thrives in loamy, well-draining soil. Mix compost, peat moss, and perlite for indoor potting mixes. Soil should retain some moisture but not get waterlogged.

Should I fertilize lemon balm?

Fertilizing every 2-3 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer can boost growth and leaf production. But it’s not essential with quality potting mix. Avoid over-fertilizing.

Can I grow lemon balm outside too?

Absolutely! Lemon balm grows very well outdoors in most climates. Provide lots of sun, fertile soil, and ample moisture. Plant it alongside gardens, borders, and walkways.

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