lemon balm

(Question)

In England we call it lemon balm. In the garden of the house that my son has brought it is growing everywhere like a weed. Is there anything we can do to get rid of this? I had managed to dig/pull up some plants but there are so many I could do with a less back braking solution.

Thank you in hope.

(Answer)

Dear gardener,

Lemon Balm (Melissa officialis) is a herb from the mint family and as such it has a tendency to take over any bed if not controlled. Although I love this plant, I can understand when too much is too much!

Luckily, unlike mint, the runners are quite closed to the surface of the soil and can be pulled and ‘followed’ easily. Spring is the best time to control it as the soil is moist and you can see when the plant starts sprouting from dormancy. Controlling in the spring also means that it will not be allowed to flowered and seed.

For your benefit I would suggest to tackle few areas at the time so that it does not become so back breaking. Once you feel comfortable about having mostly eliminated it from one bed, you can mulch the area. This will ensure that light does not reach any little bits of runners left in the ground. It also makes it easier to pull any strong plant left behind.

In the meantime, to avoid having the plant moved to the lawn, you can place a plastic barrier dug 6″ in the ground to stop the runners from moving any further.

I do love this plant and its aromatic and health properties, but just like mint species, it is better to plant it in a pot in the ground.

Best of luck to you and your son.