Herbs

Cut lemon balm and stimulate growth

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Lemon balm is an easy-care herb that is also used in the kitchen. Before the winter you should cut lemon balm.

© Backpackzio - Fotolia.com Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one of the most popular crops in Germany - which is no wonder that the plant is easy to plant, maintain, multiply and cut. Once the plant feels comfortable, it provides numerous lemon balm leaves that can be used for cooking, but also as a remedy. At the same time, it does little work for the gardener, which is also noticeable when the plant is cut. Nevertheless, you should not cut and cut the lemon balm indiscriminately - because certain procedures ensure that the plant and harvest are healthy. We explain below what you need to consider when cutting lemon balm.

Interesting facts about lemon balm

Lemon balm actually occurs originally in southern Europe, and that in a wild form. The herbaceous plant can grow up to one meter high, spreads quickly and also often turns up to 20 years old when it is in an ideal location. A sunny planting location is preferred so that the plant can spread itself well and the leaves are richly formed. Under the best conditions, the lemon balm leaves can be harvested several times a year so that a good supply can be built up. It is important that the lemon balm has a protected location. Otherwise, it can be sown directly in the garden, planted there as a young plant or kept in a pot on the terrace or balcony. Basically, gardeners do not have to cut lemon balm if it lives in the garden and thrives there - but a certain cut cannot do any harm for certain purposes.

Lemon balm - cut leaves

If required, the leaves of the lemon balm can be harvested all year round. If you need them fresh, you can cut off individual leaves on their stems so that at best they are cut two to three centimeters below the leaf and can sprout again. When fresh, the leaves develop their aroma in terms of fragrance and taste, which is why gardeners prefer this form of harvest for most of the year.

If you would like to extract essential oils from the healing and good-tasting leaf of the plant, you should do so in late summer if possible, i.e. only cut the leaves at this time. This is because the plant develops a higher oil content than usual during dry weather and high temperatures. If you want to harvest the entire foliage, you should simply cut the lemon balm a hand wide under its top leaves so that it has a uniform length arises and the lemon balm can develop new shoots. The whole thing can be done about three to four times a year, so that a lot of lemon balm can be stored at home as a spice or tea.
© photophonie - Fotolia.com

Cut lemon balm before winter

Since the lemon balm takes a break in winter and the leaf can wilt or be thrown off, it is generally advisable to trim it about a hand's width under the top leaf before the onset of winter. This makes the plant easier to get through the winter and grows more evenly in the next spring. It is also worthwhile to cut the lemon balm after spring - if you want, you can also do this after the plant has blossomed to prepare it for the rich growth in the near future.

Propagation by cutting - is that possible?

Lemon balm grows very well on its own, so you don't have to separate seedlings. The propagation can be done by sowing seeds at will, or with the help of root division. Here, parts of the root and mother plant are removed from the ground and excavated so that the cuttings can be planted elsewhere in the garden. At best, this is done with a very sharp knife in order to damage as little root system as possible.

Lemon balm - advantages and disadvantages

benefitsdisadvantage
  • very easy to plant and maintain
  • does not necessarily have to be cut as a garden plant
  • as a potted plant, only pruning is necessary because of the enormous growth
  • prefers the sun and almost all nutrient-rich soils
  • hardly any fertilization necessary
  • Can be used as a medicinal plant
  • often useful as a spice or to refine food and drinks
  • spreads quickly and can multiply alone
  • lives up to 20 years
  • Planted in the garden, the crop hibernates almost by itself
  • fresh leaves provide a very intense aroma
  • Leaves can be dried and stored
  • Lemon balm growing in a pot must be covered and warmed before wintering
  • Unfortunately, lemon balm often causes diseases and pests

As you can see, the lemon balm is an ideal bed filler for the garden, which not only looks after itself almost automatically and multiplies, but also has some useful properties and possible uses. Whether as a medicine or in food - lemon balm should not be left out in any garden.

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