By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you enjoy the fresh scent of lemon balm? I grow it outdoors around my home because it’s excellent food for the bees. However, if you enjoy lemon balm for culinary or other purposes you might want to grow the herb indoors.
You’re in luck because this is an extremely easy herb to grow inside your home. I’m going to walk you through each step of the process. Here’s what you should know to grow lemon balm indoors.
What You Might Need to Grow Lemon Balm Indoors
Lemon balm requires very little to grow it successfully indoors. The plant needs a container which drains adequately.
It will also need soil that drains properly to protect it from fungal diseases. You’ll need a sunny location in your home, but if you can’t provide natural sunlight, provide a grow light or LED lighting system for the plant to grow beneath.
You will also need a flat surface for the plant’s container to sit safely while the light is hung over it. If you can provide an adequate space for this herb to receive all that it needs, you should find success when producing this herb in your home.
Growing Conditions for Lemon Balm Indoors
The key to growing lemon balm well indoors is to make sure the plant receives enough light and that everything surrounding the plant is well-draining.
To begin, ensure your lemon balm plant is placed where it will receive six hours of full sun per day. If you don’t have a place in your home which receives this kind of lighting, you can use a grow light to supplement.
Keep in mind, for every hour of sunlight you’re supplementing, you must place the plant under a grow light for two hours. LED lighting will also work in the place of a grow light. As long as the plant receives adequate lighting, it should be happy indoors.
The next part of creating an adequate indoor growing area is to plant the lemon balm in a container which has large enough drainage holes to drain correctly. You should also choose soil that’s loamy and well-draining. An issue lemon balm frequently faces is different fungal diseases. By providing a growing area where the water drains away from the plant, you’re helping to avoid this potential problem.
Once you have the right container, right soil, and the proper placement for lighting you should be ready to begin growing lemon balm inside your home.
How to Plant Lemon Balm Indoors
Lemon balm can be transplanted or grown directly from seed. If you’re new to gardening, you might feel inclined to pick up a plant from a local nursery and plant it in a pot.
This is totally acceptable and is the easiest method for growing lemon balm. When you get the plant home, fill your chosen planter with quality, well-draining soil. If the soil is a little sandy, this is a good thing because it helps with drainage.
Dig a hole deep enough in the soil that it can support the transplant’s root system. Place the plant in the hole and press the soil firmly around the base of the plant to ensure no air reaches the roots.
If you’d rather grow lemon balm from seed, fill the planter with well-draining, loamy soil. Dig a small trench in the dirt that’s approximately ¼ inch deep or less. Sprinkle the seeds in the trench and lightly cover them with soil. If they’re still slightly exposed that’s a good thing because the seeds need light for germination. Use a spray bottle to mist the soil with water and keep it continuously moist until germination occurs. The germination process takes around two weeks.
Once the seeds have sprouted, allow them to grow until they’re approximately two to three inches tall. Choose the strongest plant and cut the remaining plants off at soil level using scissors. This can avoid harming the roots of the plant you’re keeping. Continue to care for the seedling by providing adequate light, warmth, and light watering sessions until it reaches maturity.
Now that you have lemon balm growing in your home, it’s time to learn how to properly care for the plant throughout the growing process.
Caring for Lemon Balm Indoors
Lemon balm isn’t a picky plant. It only requires proper watering. Let’s discuss how you can adequately water this herb. It’s wise to use the deep watering method when watering lemon balm. Sit the planter in the kitchen sink and pour water over it until it’s draining out of the bottom of the planter.
Leave the plant sitting in the sink until it has drained fully. Once done, place it back in its growing area. When the top of the soil appears dry, stick your finger into it.
If the soil is dry to the first knuckle, it’s time to water the plant again. If not, wait a day or two and test the soil again. This method of watering ensures the plant receives an adequate amount of water without applying too much to the plant.
Lemon balm is easy to get along with when it comes to both temperatures and humidity. Be sure you don’t place the plant near drafty locations or heat sources to avoid extreme fluctuations in the temperatures surrounding the plant.
Other than this, there’s nothing you need to do to provide any warmth or humidity to this herb. You also won’t need to fertilize lemon balm because it can impact the flavor of the plant.
By providing water, in the correct way, your lemon balm plant should thrive indoors under your care. It doesn’t get much easier than this when caring for a plant.
Pests and Diseases That Might Impact Lemon Balm When Growing Indoors
Lemon balm has only a few pests and diseases which might bring it harm during its time growing inside your home.
The pests which most commonly bother this herb, indoors, are aphids and spider mites. Both can be treated with insecticidal soap or by forcefully spraying them with water to dislodge the pests from your plant.
The diseases which most commonly impact this herb are powdery mildew and root rot. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease which occurs when the plant doesn’t have enough airflow and is receiving too much water.
You can treat the disease with a fungicide, reduce the amount of water being applied to the plant, and prune your lemon balm to increase airflow around the plant.
Root rot usually occurs when the plant is being overwatered and the soil isn’t draining fast enough. You can attempt to save the plant by removing it from its current growing conditions and allowing the plant to remain out of soil for a few hours to dry the roots.
From there, you can transplant it into soil and a container which drains better. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try before starting over.
The best method for beating root rot is prevention. Take all of this into consideration when caring for your lemon balm plants.
How to Harvest Lemon Balm
Lemon balm can be harvested once the plant’s foliage is producing. You can harvest the foliage early or later. This will boil down to personal preference.
However, when harvesting lemon balm, use scissors to cut the foliage away from the plant. Don’t cut too closely to the soil, or the plant won’t grow back. Once you’ve harvested the leaves, you can use them fresh or dehydrate them for later use. You’ve now grown lemon balm from start to finish. Whether you’re an established gardener or someone who is new to the idea, lemon balm is a great plant to work with.
It requires little care, is a gorgeous addition to most living spaces, and provides a delicious herb that’s great for many uses. Add lemon balm to your home to brighten up your surroundings.