hummingbird drinking nectar from a bee balm flower

How To Grow And Care For Bee Balm

Bee Balm bushes are herbaceous perennials native to North America that are prized for their brilliant, colorful blossoms. Surprisingly, they’re also classified as herbs. Bee Balm is a member of the mint family with fragrant leaves and a variety of culinary and therapeutic use. It has a square stem, opposing leaves, and spreading rhizomes that spread quickly under the soil like many mints.

Bee Balm plants produce clusters of crimson, pink, or purple tubular blooms in mid to late summer, and are best planted in the spring or fall. The Bee Balm flower has tubular petals in the colors of red, purple, pink, and white and has an open, daisy-like form. Year after year, Bee Balm plants return to provide bright color to your garden.

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Growing Bee Balm 

It’s rather simple to grow Bee Balm as long as you’ve got the soil wet. Apply an excellent multi-purpose fertilizer to the soil surrounding the plant and work it in. Growing Bee Balms in your flower garden will not only bring a touch of old-fashioned charm to your flower garden, but it will also attract butterflies and bees for your delight. The plants also have aromatic leaves. The plant thrives in full sun, although it will also blossom in moderate shade. The majority of the plant’s types are between 2 1/2 and 4 feet tall (76 cm – 1 m), although some dwarf kinds grow less than 10 inches (25.5 cm) tall.

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Dwarf variants are ideal for container gardens or front-and-center in your floral hedge, where the hairy, tubular blossoms of the flowering plant can be appreciated.

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Here are some brief facts about the medicinal plant:

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  • Latin name: Monrada spp.    
  • Other names: Bergamot, Horsemint, Oswego tea, Scarlet Bee Balm    
  • Native to: North America
  • Invasiveness: Yes    
  • Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial   
  • Sun: Full sun, partial shade   
  • Water: Deeply every 7-10 days   
  • Soil: Rich, moist & Neutral to acidic soil  
  • Hardiness zone: Zones 4 through 9   
  • When to plant: Spring or Early Fall   
  • Spacing: 18-24 inches   
  • Plant height: 2–4 ft  
  • Bloom period: Summer 
  • Time to maturity: 1-2 years 
  • Container friendly: Yes  
  • Fertilizer: 10-10-10  
  • Toxicity: No
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant: Yes

Bee Balm plants prefer a sunny area and wet, rich soil. Soil should be rich, well-draining, and pH balanced. If required, amend the soil with compost or old manure to increase its quality. The plant thrives in the shade, especially in hotter climates. It may be planted in any sheltered area that might use a splash of color. To stimulate blossom development, pick the blooms often. Deadheading or removing spent flowers will help encourage a new blooming flush.

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Water

Bee Balm is a moisture-loving plant that thrives in a damp environment. As a result, depending on your temperature and location, you should water the plant often (perhaps weekly) and never let the soil dry up. 

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It’s especially vital to have a consistent watering schedule throughout the first year of the plant’s life since this permits it to create a strong root system.

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Sunlight

Though Bee Balm can tolerate partial shade, it thrives best when it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Too much shadow might cause the plant to become leggy over time, reducing the number and brilliance of its blossoms. Plants cultivated in hotter areas may tolerate a little more shade than usual.

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Soil

You should plant in soil that is rich, wet, and has a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 for it to grow. Poor soil may be modified with compost or manure to enrich it, loosen it up, and make it more conducive to Bee Balm growth if necessary. You may also cover the soil with mulch to keep the shallow-rooted plant wet and prevent it from drying out. 

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Fertilizing

Bee Balms don’t need to be fertilized very often or with a lot of fertilizer. 

In the early spring, sprinkling a tiny quantity of all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, around each plant is generally plenty. 

Excessive fertilization should be avoided. Fertilizer treatments that are too frequent or too heavy foster succulent, uncontrolled growth, which can exacerbate the severity of powdery mildew.

Invasiveness

The Bee Balm may be aggressive, especially when grown in its preferred habitat of wet soil in full sun to part shade. It is not, however, considered invasive everywhere. Whether it’s invasive or not depends on where it’s grown and what species it’s grown with.

Because M. fistulosa and M. menthifolium are native to nearly the whole continental US, you can’t call them invasive in most locations here, but you can call them aggressive or opportunistic.

Growing Bee Balm In Containers

Because it readily multiplies and spreads, Bee Balm may be invasive in garden settings. Planting in a container might help to restrict the spread. This tall blooming plant blooms for up to 6 weeks from mid-summer to fall, making it a lovely centerpiece for a garden, patio, sunroom, balcony, or porch. The flower may be planted in a container by itself or as a centerpiece in a larger container arrangement if it is put in a sunny location.

Care & Tips

Pinch off the stem tips when new growth emerges in the early spring for a bushier plant. Cut the Bee Balm down to a few inches (5 to 10 cm.) tall in late autumn. It may die totally to the ground in cold places over the winter, but it will revive in the spring. Powdery mildew can affect the plant, causing grey, powdery dust to form on the buds and leaves in damp, chilly weather. You may cure mildew on your plant with natural treatments or a fungicide spray from your local garden shop. Mildew may also be avoided by growing Bee Balm in an area with sufficient air circulation and avoiding overhead watering.

Common Problems

Bee Balm is rather careless when planted in proper circumstances. Powdery mildew, which appears on flower buds and foliage, is the most serious disease. Although the grey powdery film is not harmful to plants, it might cause them to get stressed and their leaves to droop. Mildew and other fungal diseases like rust and leaf spots can be exacerbated by too much shadow, a lack of air circulation, or extreme humidity. To avoid the spread of mildew, remove diseased leaves and dispose of them in the garbage rather than in compost piles. Follow the directions for using an organic cure. Root rot can be caused by poor soil drainage. Stalk borers, whiteflies, spider mites, slugs, and thrips are examples of insect concerns.

Propagating Bee Balm

The most convenient technique to grow Bee Balm is to divide it.  This entails digging out the roots and rhizomes and transferring them. You can also root or transplant stem cuttings or sow seeds directly to grow Monarda.

The History Of Bee Balm

Bee Balm is a plant native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Native Americans used it for medicinal purposes. Today, alternative medicine also appreciates the plant generously. One of its common names, Bee Balm, comes from a famous salve made from its resin and used to treat bee stings.

Uses For Bee Balm 

Bee Balm is still utilized as a natural cure for a wide range of diseases today. The plant, a member of the mint family, can aid with digestive difficulties, sore throats, bloating, and nausea when used in teas. It is also a natural antibacterial that can aid with bee stings, rashes, and small wounds when applied topically.

In a pollinator garden, Bee Balm is a wonderful addition. The seed heads will attract birds in the fall and winter, in addition to pollinators.

Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected]
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