Influence of water stress prior to harvest on yield and essential oil content of pot grown lemon balm

Stefan Gordanić, Dragoja Radanović, Milan Lukić, Snežana Mrdjan, Sara Mikić, Petar Batinić, Željana Prijić, Tatjana Markovic



Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) is a perennial herbaceous plant widely used in modern and traditional medicine. The aboveground part, particularly the leaves, has many benefits; in traditional medicine, it is used for the preparation of various teas and tea blends, while in modern medicine to obtain essential oil as it is considered a precious product. Nowadays, the needs for lemon balm are mostly met by growing it in the open field. The quality of its leaves as well as the content of its essential oil mostly depend on the way the plant is grown. In stress conditions, medicinal plants use to increase the content of their secondary metabolites. Therefore, this study aimed to determine whether water deficit has an impact on the content of essential oil in lemon balm grown as a pot culture. The experiment was conceived in such a way that at the beginning of the flowering phase, cultivated plants were given different treatments. Treatment A represented plants that were not subjected to water stress, while in treatments B and C, prior to harvesting the plants have been subjected to water stress for 7 and 14 days, respectively. By the end of the experiment, the morphological parameters per plant were measured and the contents of essential oil per treatment determined, all in triplicates. The obtained results indicate that water stress had a great impact on the yield of the aboveground biomass of lemon balm plants as well as on the content of essential oil in their leaves. The highest average yield of the aboveground biomass was obtained in treatment A (1204.0 g) while the highest average yield of the essential oil in treatment C (0.59 g). In short, an increase in water stress increased its positive effects on lemon balm grown as pot culture.


Lemon balm; cultivation; water deficit

Full Text:



Abuhamdah, S. and Chazot, P. L. (2008). Lemon Balm and Lavender herbal essential oils: Old and new ways to treat emotional disorders? Current Anaesthesia & Critical Care 19(4): 221–226.

Akula, R., Ravishankar, G.A., (2011). Influence of abiotic stress signals on secondary metabolites in plants. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 6(11): 1720–1731.

Baher, F. Z., Mirza, M., Ghorbanli, M. and Rezaii, B. M. (2001). The influence of water stress on plant height, herbal and essential oil yield and composition in Satureja hortensis L., Flavour and Fragrance Journal 17(4): 275-277.

Basar S.N., Zaman R. (2013). An Overview of Badranjboya (Melissa officinalis). International Research Journal of Biological Science, (2):107–9.

Bazzazi, N., Khodambashi, M. and Mohammadi S. (2013). The Effect of Drought Stress on Morphological Characteristics and Yield Components of Medicinal Plant Fenugreek, Journal f Crop Production and Processing, (3): 11-23.

Burgett, M. (1980). The use of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) for attracting honeybee swarms, Bee World. 61: 44-46.

Dastmalchia, K., Damien H. J., Dormana, P. Oinonena, P. Darwisd, Y. Laaksoa, I. and Hiltunena, R. (2008). Chemical composition and in vitro antioxidative activity of a lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) extract,” Food Science and Technology, 41(3): 391–400.

Farahani, A. H., Lebaschi, H. M. and Hamidi, A. (2009). Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, phosphorus and water stress on quantity and quality characteristics of coriander, Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences, 2(2): 55-59.

Farahani, A., Valadabadi, S.A., Daneshian, J., Khalvati, M.A. (2009). Evaluation changing of EO of balm (Melissa officinalis L.) under water deficit stress conditions, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, (3): 329-333.

Khalid, Kh. A. (2006). Influence of water stress on growth, essential oil and chemical composition of herbs (Ocimum sp.), International Agrophysics, 20: 289-296.

Kilic, S. and Kilic, M. (2017). Effects of cadmium-induced stress on essential oil production, morphology and physiology of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae), Applied Ecology and Environmental Research, (15): 1653-1669.

Kong, Y., Llewellyn, D. and Zheng, Y. (2018). Response of growth, yield, and quality of pea shoots to supplemental light-emitting diode lighting during winter greenhouse production, Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 98(3): 732-740.

Moradkhani, H., Sargsyan, E., Bibak, H., Naseri, B., Sadat-Hosseini, M., Fayazi-Barjin, A., Meftahizade, H., (2010). Melissa officinalis L., a valuable medicine plant: a review. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 25(4): 2753–2759.

Munne-Bosch S, Alegre L. (1999). Role of dew on the recovery of water stressed Melissa officinalis plants, Journal of Plant Physiology, 154(5): 759-766.

Németh-Zámbori, E., Szabó, K., Pluhár, Z., Radácsi, P., Inotai, K. (2016). Changes in biomass and essential oil profile of four Lamiaceae species due to different soil water levels, Journal of Essential Oil Research, (28): 391–399.

Nilsen, E.T. and Orcutt, D.M. (1996). The Physiology of Plants Under Stress: Abiotic Factors. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Pereira, R.P., Boligon, A.A., Appel, A.S., Fachinetto, R., Ceron, C.S., Tanus-Santos, J.E., Athayde, M.L., Rocha, J.B.T. (2014). Chemical composition, antioxidant and anticholinesterase activity of Melissa officinalis, Industrial Crops and Products, (53): 34-45.

Ph. Jug. IV (1984). Yugoslav Pharmacopoeia IV, Federal Institute of Public Health, Belgrade, Serbia.

Ramakrishna, A. and Ravishankar G.A. (2011). Influence of abiotic stress signals on secondary metabolites in plants, Plant Signal, (6): 1720-1731.

Sangwan, S. N., Farooqi, A. H. A. and Sangwan, R. S. (1994). Effect of drought stress on growth and essential oil metabolism in lemongrasses, New Phytologist, 128(1): 173-179.

Schultze, W., Zaglein A., Hose S., Kubeczka K.H. and Czygan F.C. (1992). Volatiles in flowers of balm (Melissa officinalis L.). In: Advances in Labiate Science. (Eds.): Harley R.M. and Reynolds T., The Royal Botanic Gardens, UK. 357-366.

Simon, J. E., Bubenheim, D. R., Joly, R. J. and Charles, D. J. (1990). Water stress-induced alterations in essential oil content and composition of sweet basil, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 4(1): 71-75.

Świader, K., Startek, K. Wijaya, C.H. (2019). The therapeutic properties of Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.): Reviewing novel findings and medical indications, Journal of Applied Botany and Food Quality, 92: 327–335.

Wilson, S. B., Davies, F. T. and Geneve, R. L. (2017). Hartmann and Kester's Principles and Practices of Plant Propagation, ninth ed. Pearson, New York.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Tatjana Markovic

ISSN 0455-6224 (Print)
ISSN 2560-3965 (Online)

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.