Lemon Balm, also known as balm mint or simply, balm, is a lovely lemon-scented leaf in the mint family, and true to its family name, it will take over in a minute if, you let it.
According to Wikipedia, the maximum height is 59 inches, so just a few inches shorter than me. I’ve watched it seemingly completely die off every year, only to immediately grow a foot the second the sun comes out in the spring. I planted three 6-inch plants two years ago, and here is one of them now:
And it’s not even summer yet.
I will cut this back soon, and it will grow back even taller. But the real insidious part is how it pops up all around the rest of the garden. I love the smell of lemon balm, and I love it’s insect-repellant quality, but it grows like a weed. Literally—I pull up lemon balm around the garden more than any other weed I’m at war with.
See all of those little sprouts? That’s all lemon balm too! Like any kind of plant that you appreciate for it’s hardiness and ability to grow quickly, you swap out worrying over tenderness for straining to keep control. It’s just important to maintain the perimeter and pull those new sprouts often—come to a compromise with your mints and they’ll do you well.
To use lemon balm as an insect repellant, pull off leaves and rub onto your skin. You’ll smell great to humans and bad to bugs. Or, if your balms are as large as mine, you can just roll around in them (actually, no, don’t do that, I think spiders probably live in there)!