Lemon Balm in Michigan

davemichigan(zone 6a (SE Michigan))June 25, 2011

I am wondering how invasive Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is in Michigan. I read that they are invasive but controllable if you don't let them seed. I would like to hear some of your experiences especially if you have grown them in SE Michigan.

Thanks in advance!

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Not in Michigan but in the Mid-Atlantic States so similar sort of conditions.

I don't worry about keeping it from self-sowing seed so it does spread. I don't think it is uncontrollable. I just dig up, harvest away, or cut down any lemon balm I don't want. I would not suggest putting it in a small area with "timid" plants that cannot hold their own. It doesn't respect boundaries to be sure. If you are ok with that, it is a great herb if you want to harvest and use it. It keeps on giving up until mid to late fall.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:41AM
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It has the potential to naturalize itself, which can eventually be considered a plus, because after several years of excess it usually seems to become less vigorous. I remember only having to pull up some of it for a few seasons.

It seems to spread more by seeds than runners (I have never really noticed runners in the roots of the plants I pulled up). You could try it in a semi-shady area in its own spot next to a tree, rather in the herb garden proper; with luck you will eventually have a patch of it. It can also seed itself around, depending upon conditions. It can get about two feet high and develops woody stems after awhile; the unpruned habit is straight rather than wide and bushy.

My one lemon balm plant planted on the downwind side of my fairly shady back garden eventually was able to travel about a hundred feet upwind to the other side of the garden. This could only have been by seed. If I had realized it would subside after awhile I would probably not have pulled so much of it up. I have been wondering if the birds spread the seed? I found one plant of it growing in front of my house this spring.

You might have more problems if you planted several different plants of it from several genetic stocks. My theory is that it subsided because of lack of genetic diversity, lacking any other explanation.

It is definitely not as invasive as Yellow Archangel, if you have had any experience with that.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:47AM
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davemichigan(zone 6a (SE Michigan))

Thank you, FataMorgana, eibren. I am going to give it a try. I had bought one but kept it on the window sill. Now I am going to plant it outside.

Will it run into the lawn if there is no edging between the growing area and the lawn?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:36AM
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I live in Middle Tennessee.
I planted 3 small plants in my front garden about 6 years ago. Every year, I rip it out, cut it down with the weed whacker & everything else short of using Roundup & I have it everywhere. Pops up in every flower bed, comes up in my gravel driveway. I even have it in the gardens in the backyard now (never planted any there).
Advantages? keeps out the bermuda grass, smells great & when I lop a large quantity, I throw it in the bathtub & have a wonderfully, scented relaxing bath.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:51PM
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It's supposed to have a cooling effect when used as a tea, too. That might be helpful in your warm climate.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:32AM
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tuvalu713(5b MI.)

Dave, I'm in SE MI. too. I planted a couple lemon balm plants along the eastern side of my home. The plants are also shaded out by a nearby raised bed and a nectarine tree. The plants have been there a couple years and I've never had any problems. I've read that this plant is more lemony, healthier if you will, when grown with some shade.

I haven't found it to be nearly as vigorous nor invasive as other members of the mint family I've grown. It has such an uplifting scent that I like to take a few sprigs of it before I leave the house. Good luck! mika

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:23PM
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A strange plant popped up next to my lemon balm that smells just like lemon balm but has smooth edged leaves...I did have lemon verbena in my garden once upon a time, but I didn't think that verbena propagated. Any ideas?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:26AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

got a picture?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Be careful how much you cut it back to prevent self-seeding. Some that I cut back over 1/2 of plant didn't survive especially ones in large pots on my deck. Now, I am careful to not cut more than 1/3 of the plant back.

Had them for 2 years, so ones in the partly shaded moist bed with lots of mulch are doing the best & 2-3' tall now. I love brushing past them on the path.

I have kept one in a 6" plastic pot in a tea kettle with drainage holes, but it's not thriving.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:40PM
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