Growing Bee Balm

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Bee Balm

Growing Bee Balm in the Garden

Bee Balm in the Garden

Pixabay

A perennial favorite native to North America, bee balm (also called wild bergamot) is beloved in flower beds for its beautiful blooms of red, pink, purple or white—not to mention the fragrant foliage. Here’s how to plant and grow bee balm in your garden!

Bee balm is a great addition to a pollinator garden. The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees; and the seed heads will attract birds in the fall and winter. Learn more about plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Planting

How to Plant Bee Balm

  • Bee balm can be planted in the spring or in the fall.
  • Bee balm thrives in full sunshine.
  • Space plants 18-24 inches apart in rich, well-draining soil.
  • Bee balm needs good air circulation, otherwise it can develop mildew on its leaves.
  • Water thoroughly at the time of planting.

bee-balm-2413963_1920_full_width.jpg

Care

How to Grow Bee Balm

  • Keep soil evenly moist.
  • Add mulch around the plants to preserve the moisture in the soil and control weeds.
  • Deadhead faded blooms to encourage the plant to re-bloom in late summer.
  • After the first frost in the fall, cut stems back to about 2 inches above the soil. See local frost dates.
  • Divide bee balm every 2 to 3 years to ensure its vigor. In the spring make small divisions of the newer roots of established plants and replant.

monarda-608257_1920_full_width.jpg

Pests/Diseases

  • Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew commonly occurs on the foliage of bee balm if humidity is too high. Reduce watering if this is the case.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

  • Native Americans and early colonists used bee balm leaves and flowers to make a variety of medicinal salves and drinks.
  • Bee balm is a member of the mint family. Its foliage has a strong aroma and is sometimes used in herbal teas, salads, and as garnishes. The flowers are also edible.
  • Despite being called “wild bergamot,” bee balm is not used in bergamot (a.k.a. Earl Grey) tea. The tea is made with oils extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a citrus fruit.

2020 Almanac Calendar Club

Growing Bee Balm

Botanical Name Monarda
Plant Type Flower
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH Neutral, Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Pink, Purple, Red, White
Hardiness Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Special Features Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies