Lemon Balm(Melissa officinalis)
Light requirements: Full sun to part shade. Protect plants from hot afternoon sun in southerly zones.
Planting: Space 18 to 24 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Nutrient-rich, moist soil is ideal, although mint grows in nearly any type of soil. Amend soil with organic matter, such as compost.
Water requirements: Mint thrives in moist to slightly soggy soil. Consider planting mint near downspouts or in low, damp spots in your yard.
Frost-fighting plan: Mint is perennial in zones 3 to 11. Plants tolerate light frosts, but eventually die back to the ground in all but the warmest zones. If you need plants to survive a light frost, cover them with a frost blanket. Protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts.
Common issues: Mint can quickly overrun a planting bed, spreading by above- and underground stems. Keep it in check by planting in containers or beds bordered by sidewalk or driveway, or by planting in partially submerged pots in planting beds. Leaf flavor turns bitter when flower buds appear. Mint is generally pest-free.
Harvesting: Pick mint leaves at any point in the growing season. For strongest flavor, harvest leaves at midday when essential oil concentrations are strongest. Gather individual leaves or clip leafy stems. Plants branch freely from just below where you snip stems, so place cuts to prune and shape plants.
Storage: Store mint stems at room temperature in a water-filled jar; use within a week for freshest flavor. Stems root easily in water. For longer storage, dry or freeze leaves.
For more information, visit the Mint page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 2
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Dietary fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 0g
- Vitamin A: 3% DV
- Vitamin C: 2%
- Vitamin K: 0%
- Vitamin B6: 0%
- Folate: 1%
- Potassium: 1%
- Manganese: 2%
Commonly used as a flavoring in beverages and foods, mint is also believed to have medicinal purposes—both as a leaf and as an oil. Peppermint oil is often applied to the skin as a treatment for headaches, muscle and nerve pain, inflammation, and even for repelling mosquitoes. A good source of Vitamins A and C, mint helps with vision and immune functions. The herb is also packed with antioxidants that protect against cell damage, boost the immune system, and form collagen in the body.