Like sugar and spice, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and dahlias are opposites that bring out the best in each other. Lemon balm is forever green and calming, yet bursting with a fresh, citrus aroma that brightens a gloomy day and recharges a draining battery. Dahlias can be counted on to deliver over the top color and exotic floral shapes, but nay, not a whiff of fragrance. When you pair them they provide a dazzling bouquet that refreshes and rejuvenates. Add a little Russian sage and your bouquet will take on a free-spirited attitude.
It’s easy to incorporate lemon balm into any fall floral arrangement. Lemon balm can be as dressed up or as dressed down as you prefer. Just follow a few simple tips and your arrangement will turn out stellar:
- The stems will remain fresher longer if you snip them early in the morning once the dew has dried.
- Cut stems from the bottom of the plant and handle carefully to avoid bruising the leaves or stems.
- Keep a container of water handy while you’re snipping and place the lemon balm stems directly in the water.
- When making your arrangement, be sure to mist the leaves a few times as well.
While handling the lemon balm, you may notice the stems are square. That tells you that lemon balm is a member of the mint family. (Remember this little square-stem tidbit as you peruse the rest of your herb garden, and you’ll be able to identify the other members of the mint family.)
Lemon balm is considered a perennial in zones 4-9. It’s easy to grow and is a favorite of many gardeners. If you have a fairly large garden, you can grow it right in the bed without much trouble. However, I grow mine in containers, harvest the leaves in the fall, and then begin again from cuttings or seed indoors. I don’t sow lemon balm directly into my small garden because of lemon balm’s prolific nature. While not as aggressive as spearmint or peppermint, if given a chance, it will try to take over. I also prefer to keep it in containers because I can then set those containers near my patio doors. When the breeze blows, the fresh scent permeates my home, a nice little bonus.