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Lemon balm

  • Vegetables and herbs
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)



Origin and description

Lemon balm is native to North Africa, Asia and Europe. It has been cultivated since Antiquity as a condiment plant and for its nectar, which attracts bees. In fact, Melissa comes from a Greek word meaning “honey bee.” The leaves have a lemony fragrance and flavour.
Cycle: Perennial.
Spacing: 30-60 cm.
Height: 30-75 cm.

Common name

Lemon balm

Latin name (genus)

Melissa officinalis

French common name

Botanical family

  • Lamiaceae

Growing conditions

Exposure: full sun, partial shade.

Pruning and maintenance

Lemon balm reseeds vigorously.


Sow seed indoors in March-April or outdoors in autumn.


Culinary use: The leaves can be added fresh or dried to fish, rice, omelettes, salads and other dishes. They also make a fragrant addition to teas, herbal teas, liqueurs and cold beverages. Because their aroma is volatile, they should be added just before serving.

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