Lemon balm is a delightful herb that can be grown easily in Singapore. Here, we can buy very well-grown pots of this herb from most nurseries. There is little need to grow them from seeds or buy fresh herbs from the supermarket! For those of us who want a zest of lemon fragrance in our food or want a cup of lemon balm tea, all that needs to be done is to harvest a few leaves from the potted plants we grow at home.
Although a common herb, how many of us have seen the flowers of the lemon balm plant? Nurseries only stock young vigorous growing plants that are often not in flower. Our potted plants at home may often be showing new growth due to periodic harvesting of their foliage for culinary uses. For a long time, I have never seen the flowers of this lemon-scented herb in real life other than occasionally pictures of them in various herb books or websites.
For those of my friends who know me, I grow many Mediterranean herbs because I appreciate them for their growth form and scent. I don’t know how to use them in the kitchen. Due to this strange habit of mine, my pot of lemon balm plant had the luxury to grow at its own leisire and recently, it had decided to flower and put forth a flower spike. I thought to myself – luckily, I did not cut it back for propagation!
The flowers of the lemon balm are not something that we would go ‘wow’ when we see them. They are best described as inconspiciuous because each flower is tiny, white in colour and produced in a whorl around the axil of the leaves. They are neither showy nor colourful.
It is no wonder why many herb gardeners advise others to trim away the flower stalk once we see our lemon balm plants are showing the first signs of flowering. The flowering process demands much energy from a plant and a flowering plant would concentrate all its resources in the reproduction process in the expense of its foliage. Because the lemon balm plant is mainly grown for its leaves, hence we would not want our plants to flower.