How Long Does Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis L) Last?

Does anyone know how long lemon balm lasts? If it ever flowers? When does it seed?
I've had some for about a year. The summer months seem to take a toll on it. It's planted outdoors. I planted it last June or there abouts, give or take a month. It doesn't look too well at the moment, and in fact there's very few leaves left upon it. I know some plants seem to just disappear and then re-emerge when the season is right. Is Lemon Balm one of those plants?
I'm wondering if the cucumbers that were planted next to it might be suffocating the roots. Does anyone know of a way to revive Lemon Balm?
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to the newsgroup, thanks.
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Jim Carlock wrote:

Zone? Climate? Here in Mid-Northern Ontario, Can. Zone 4b, hot and himid summers with two to three rainless weeks on occasion, well-protected garden, lemon balm is a perennial.
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Thanks,
I'm in Tampa, FL. The average daily year round temp is something like 72 F. We get rain when a hurricane gets close enough. It freezes very rarely here. Might get two nights a year where the temps might come close to freezing. August was a dry month. September was dry as well, even with hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
I've read some stuff via googling about it being a bushy perennial and I looked up some definitions of perennial, some seem to indicate that perennial plants thrive all year long, while some indicate at least 3 years. Some definitions indicate it means "coming back over and over". So the definitions leave me puzzled wondering if it leaves the Lemon Balm as a "forever plant" or a dying down to roots and later growing new leaves. :-)
Some plants die down to nothing but roots and then come back the next year. Are those perennial? Does Lemon Balm behave in such a manner?
And while some websites indicate Lemon Balm actually thrives throughout the year... my Lemon Balm appears to be dead, with only a couple set of tiny green leaves upon it. Some of the stems have turned woody and I've pulled those.
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to the newsgroup, thanks.
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Jim Carlock wrote:

[...]
Your area may just be too warm for lemon balm. Plants are surprisingly adaptable to different climates than their native ones, but there are limits.
"Perennial" just means the plant survives from year to year - no winter kill (eg our wild violets, which are white.) "Annual" means it lives for a year, and grows from seed the following year (e.g dill.) "Biennials" have a two-year growth and reseed cycle (eg, foxglove.) Some perennials have a relatively limited life-span of a few years. Lifespan for plants varies a lot: a birch lives about 30-40 years, while an oak can live for a several hundred years, and a bristlecone pine can live for several thousand years.
Some plants that are perennial for you in Florida are annuals for us - our winter kills them. But if we bring them inside for the winter, they survive just fine. We have an oleander, a bougainvillea and a hibiscus that are going on 20 years old. All spend the summers outdoors and the winters inside. All three are perennials from central California southwards. We also have to bring in a variety of bulbs and corms, else the deep frost will kill them.
Conversely, apples and roses do not like heat - subtropical is about as warm as some varieties will tolerate, other varieties don't like that climate at all. Our birch trees won't grow down where you are. And so on.
One final thought: if it's not climate, it's soil type (acidity.) Can't recall whether lemon balm wants acid or basic soil, though.
HTH
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Here in CT it just thrives on the edge of a woodland setting. If it didn't smell so nice I'd say it was invasive. You may be too warm to propagate by self sowing, try rooting some cuttings if you wish to make increase, I bet a moist spot in part shade would help where you are.
Tom
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Jim Carlock wrote:

Tennessee chiming in. My lemon balm is 3 years old. Hasn't bloomed yet and looks pretty straggly in the summer. I usually harvest in the spring and dry it for year round use. I've read that it spreads, but mine has yet to do that.
Kate
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Yes, mine started to spread but it ended up stuck to about a 9" diameter circle (though right now it looks alot smaller). When I bought it last year it was in a small cup-sized plastic pot.
I use fresh leaves for tea, haven't tried the drying out thing. When I want some tea I go outside and cut some fresh leaves off. How do you dry your leaves? Maybe I'll try drying them if the plant comes back.
I tried getting some more to grow with a packet of seed but I guess I should have waited for the summer to pass. :-/
Welp, just took care of that... just planted some into some styrofoam cups. I'll see how that works out.
Thanks for your comments, Kate. Looking forward to reading about your dry style. <g>
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Jim Carlock wrote:

Mine's probably 2 feet across in the Spring, when it looks it's best. (Sorry, math class was too long ago for diameters.)

On top of the refrigerator in a seedling tray.
Reading the other replies, my guess is that even though we get hard freezes here, we don't get enough of them for lemon balm to flower. Now spearmint on the other hand.....at least it goes well with lemon balm in tea.
Kate
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It's positively weedy here in my yard, seeds all over the place!
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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Ann wrote:

See, it's the climate!
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"Wolf Kirchmeir" of Canada posted:

to seed?
Kate in Tennessee doesn't seem to get the seed. I imagine the temps in Tennessee get to freezing, but I don't know how low they get there. We'll have to wait and see what Kate says.
Thanks for the great explanation about perennial et al in the other post. I have a question... that's a spiffy first name you got there. Is that your real first name?
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to the newsgroup, thanks.
Ann of Boston posted:

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Jim Carlock wrote: [...]

[...]
Yes.
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Jim Carlock wrote:

Jim, my experience with Lemon Balm doesn't indicate that it needs any cold/freeze to germinate. It is native to southern Europe and N. Africa. It's rather a scraggly plant in its first year and tends to look like its on its way out! The blooms are easy to miss and appear in late summer in the leaf axils. Many perennials do not flower the first year.
LB grows best in full sun; or part shade where it is very hot. Since your plant was planted out in June, it may not produce flowers the first season. Can be susceptible to powdery mildew. It likes a pH of about 7.0. Likes well drained, moist soil. But it seems to be drought tolerant here. (Nor Cal)
Can be propagated by layering, cuttings in spring or summer, and seed. Germinates at 70 degrees, better if seeds are not covered. Seeds can be planted early in spring outside. Plants are very cold hardy, but will die over winter if in a wet place. I found the plants to be rather short lived, but reseed readily, as I have not "grown" it for at least 10 years, but every spring I find a plant coming up somewhere in the garden.
Don't give up on it yet, Emilie NorCal
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