When we received the following bundle of fresh lemon balm in one of our weekly Farm Table Box deliveries, we were excited since we haven't grown any of our own before. I wasn't sure if it would even work since the stems had already been cut, but figured we had nothing to lose by giving it a whirl.
Lemon balm is a perennial herb in the mint family. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint and are often used to add flavor in recipes or herbal teas. It's also known to attract honey bees and act as a mosquito repellant. As you can imagine, we thought it would be great to have a live plant around for the long haul instead of getting this one-time use out the bunch from the box.
We took this cutting right around the same time we were trying to propagate our basil plant, so kept them in the same water glass:
You can really see how much more quickly the basil plant took to rooting over about a 3-4 week timeframe:
After planting the basil cutting, we left the lemon balm in the same water glass to let it do its thing, and roots continued to grow slowly with each day that went by:
Over the next 3 weeks while the roots really took off, a powdery white mildew began to cover the bottom leaves of the original cutting (which we hear lemon balm can be prone to):
We'd been on various trips out of town during this timeframe so probably left the cutting in the water a little longer than necessary, contributing to the mildew. Check out the long root growth and little baby sprouts generating from the base of the stem here:
We decided it was time to plant it or get rid of it, so in the planter it went! You can see we're trying a couple sprigs of thyme now too!
Before planting, we just removed all of the leaves that had any sign of the white powdery mildew, leaving a couple smaller healthy leaves at the top of the cutting. We hoped this would help stimulate new healthy growth from here on out, allowing the plant's energy to focus on those fresher green leaves:
After a healthy watering in a soil-filled planter, we wished our little lemon balm cutting well as we took it back indoors to watch the progress:
Over the last 2 weeks, everything seems to have been going well. We've already got new growth on the top of the plant and can't wait to see how big this little guy gets over time!
The entire process from cutting through now probably took 2 1/2 months using this natural method with cuttings and water. It's a slow process, but fascinating to watch. As you can probably gather, we've had fun seeing how many different variations of plants we can regrow using this same natural propagation method. We love how many fresh herbs we've now got on hand to use here and there when needed in a recipe!
What have you been growing or propagating of late?