When to cut back bee balm?

Contents

Bee Balm Flower Plant – How To Plant Bee Balm And Bee Balm Care

The bee balm plant is a North American native, thriving in woodland areas. Also known by its botanical name of Monarda, bee balm is very attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The bee balm flower has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple and white. Bee balm plants are perennial, coming back year after year to add cheerful color to your garden.

How to Plant Bee Balm

Bee balm plants prefer moist, rich soil, and a sunny location. Bee balm will tolerate shade, particularly in hot-summer areas. Plant it in any protected spot that would benefit from a bright shot of color.

Most varieties of the bee balm plant are between 2 1/2 feet to 4 feet tall, but there are also dwarf varieties

less than 10 inches high. Dwarf varieties are excellent for container gardens or up front in your flower border where you can appreciate the shaggy, tubular blooms of the bee balm flower.

Pick bee balm flowers frequently to encourage flower production. Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, will also promote a new flush of blooms.

Bee Balm Care

Growing bee balms is fairly easy as long as you keep the soil moist. Provide a good, multi-purpose fertilizer, and work it into the soil around the bee balm plant.

If you want a bushier plant, pinch off the stem tips as new growth appears in the early spring. In late fall, cut the bee balms down to just a few inches tall. In cold areas, it may die completely to the ground during the winter, but will reappear in the spring.

The bee balm plant is susceptible to powdery mildew, appearing as a gray, powdery dust on the buds and leaves in moist, cool weather. If your bee balm plant develops mildew, you can treat it with a fungicide spray from the local garden center. Mildew may also be prevented by planting bee balm where it will have good air circulation, and avoiding watering from overhead.

If you have never enjoyed the bee balm flower, growing bee balms will add not only a touch of old-fashioned beauty to your flower garden; it will also attract butterflies and bees for your enjoyment.

Monarda pronounced (Mon-nard-uh) more commonly known as the “Bee Balm plant” is a herbaceous perennial plant native to North America.

These favorite garden perennials flower in late summer and commonly found in herb and flower gardens across the country.

Commonly known as the Bee Balm plant as its fragrant flowers attract honey bees, colorful butterflies, entertaining hummingbirds and other pollinating insects.

The bee balm plant has a long history of medicinal uses by Eclectic American physicians, Native American tribes, and herbalist.

Where Did The Name Monarda Come From?

The genus Monarda is named after Nicolas Baptista Monardes a Spanish physician and botanist who in 1569 first described American flora.

Monarda is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), with over 40 “accepted” varieties and species according to the Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

What Are The Common Names For Monarda?

Monarda is the genus of which several common names are used to refer to the 40 or so species and cultivars. Common names include:

  • Bee Balm plant
  • Oswego Tea – refers to the refreshing beverage made from the leaves.
  • Horsemint
  • Bergamot

The common name “bergamot” comes from the leaves fragrance reminiscent of (Citrus bergamia) the bergamot orange.

NOTE: The common garden species of Monarda once introduced to England soon became popular as cottage-garden and herb plants.

What Do Bee Balm Plants And Flowers Look Like?

Planted in groups Monarda forms bold, bushy clumps making them useful plants for background planting.

The crown-shaped bee bomb flowers appear somewhat wispy with a spiral, spidery pattern near the end of the stalks. The blooms attract gardeners, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

The color of Monarda fistulosa – pronounced (fiss-tew-loh-suh) and known as the is lavender and Monarda didyma pronounced (did-im-ah) also known as the is red, but you’ll find new varieties and hybrids in an array of colors including:

  • Red
  • Pink
  • White
  • Purple
  • and many shades in between

The dark green leaves are pleasingly aromatic and somewhat coarse.

How Tall Does Bee Balm Grow?

The Bee Balm plant grows in dense clusters with striking flowers sitting atop three-foot high stems in mid to late summer.

However, plant size varies considerably. Today’s hybrids and cultivars feature dwarf selections of just 12” in height and other varieties reaching over 4 feet tall.

How To Grow Bee Balm

The hybrids of the two most popular species hold the most interest to the home gardener.

Both are useful in wild gardens, growing bee balm in semi-shade, and in attractive perennial borders.

They make colorful additions to herb gardens and can be naturalized along stream banks and around ponds.

Depending on the variety beebalm plants grow in USDA Hardiness zones 4 – 9.

What Are The Bee Balm’s Soil And Light Requirements?

Bee Balm grows easily in most soils. However, it does well in a garden bed with rich garden soil or well-drained soil on the alkaline side, that retains moisture.

Select a location that receives full sun or partial shade in the afternoon to encourage the best flowering.

How Much Water Does Bee Balm Need?

Bee balm plants like an even supply of moisture throughout the growing season, though they will tolerate periods of drought. Watering with a soaker hose easily keeps Monarda soil moist.

During dry periods, water plants twice a week. Apply mulch to conserve moisture and reduce watering, soak the soil to a depth of 6″ to 8″ inches.

The roots of the Wild Bergamot – Monarda fistulosa – apparently handles dryer conditions better than Monarda didyma.

How Much Space Does Monarda Plant Need?

Bee Balm plants look most effective planted in mass.

Spacing plants 12” – 24” inches apart, encourages proper air circulation and minimizing powdery mildew disease.

How To Care For Bee Balm – What And When To Fertilize

The Bee-blam plant does not require frequent feeding.

Fertilize the plant in early spring with a slow-release all-purpose garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or apply a liquid fertilizer every couple weeks. Take care, not to over fertilize.

Over-fertilizing can cause rampant, succulent growth increasing the severity of powdery mildew.

How To Grow Balm Bee In A Pot Or Container?

Instead of growing these in a garden some homeowners want to know how to grow monarda in pots.

They could be tight on the space required for the plants, or they may be concerned about their planting becoming invasive in their garden.

Monarda is from the mint family known for its rapid growth! Growing in bee balm in containers allow better control over any invasive issues. They almost make attractive additions to the deck and patio.

Most bee balm height reaches to 2.5″ to 4′ feet tall. As an option plants consider purchasing some of the new dwarf varieties for container growing like:

  • Petite delight( rose pink flowers) which grows 15 inches tall
  • Petite Wonder (pink flowers) which reaches 10 inches

Many of the new varieties are also resistant to powdery mildew.

  • Using a well-drained soil fill a 7 – 10-gallon pot about one-third full. Water the soil and allow any excess water to drain.
  • Remove the plant from the nursery container and place it on top of the soil in the new pot.
  • The crown of the plant should be approximately 1 ½” inches below the rim of the pot. Add or remove soil to adjust the height of the plant.
  • Once the height is adjusted finish filling the pot with soil, lightly press the soil in place and water the plant thoroughly
  • Place the newly potted bee balm is an area with full sun all-day or full morning sun and light afternoon shade.
  • Make sure the location has good air circulation. Open decks or a patio are great places for the plant and for you to enjoy.
  • During the spring and summer months, water thoroughly when the top inch or so of soil becomes dry. Reduce watering during fall and winter months. Do not allow the soil to dry completely.
  • After the first frost or when the plant dies back naturally prune back stems to about 2” inches from the top of the soil. Dispose of the pruned material.

Dwarf Varieties

Most Bee Balm Monarda cultivars reach a height of 2.5 to 4 feet tall. However, dwarf varieties

Container Growing Best Practices

  • Monitor potted plants for powdery mildew
  • Avoid watering from overhead
  • Keep foliage dry
  • Remove infected leaves to prevent the potential spread of fungus mildew

PRO TIP: If concerned about potential invasiveness, sink pots in the ground and remove flowers before they go to seed.

How To Winterize The Bee Balm Flower

Pruning bee balm in mid-autumn helps get the plant ready for winter.

Also in mid-autumn add a 1” inch layer of mulch around the roots.

When spring arrives, and the ground warms up, remove the mulch to get plants ready for new spring growth.

When Will My Bee Balm Flower And How Long Do They Bloom?

One of the nice assets of the Bee Balm is the long blooming season and easy culture.

Native from Quebec south to Georgia and Tennessee, the crimson-scarlet flowers of Monarda didyma display their showy colors from June to early fall.

The blooms of Monarda fistulosa the lilac to purple “Wild Bergamot” a native from Maine to Florida and Louisiana begin to appear in July and August. It is most impressive and effective when naturalized.

Monarda citriodora has attractive purple-colored blooms and produces a distinctive scent when the leaves are rubbed or crushed.

How To Keep Bee Balm Blooming

To increase lateral growth and more bee balm flowers, pinch back the stem tips in early spring when plants reach about three feet tall.

Using your fingers pinch out the first set of leaves on 1/3 of the stems. Staggering the pinching encourages a longer display of flowers.

Wait a week, and pinch another one-third and the last one-third of stems in the third week. Distributing the pinching evenly ensures that the bloom colors will appear uniformly.

How To Prune Bee Balm

A faster and easier alternative to pinching especially if you have lots of plants to pinch back is to cut the whole plant back.

Using a pair of hand clippers, cut back the entire plant by half when it reaches 12 inches tall.

If plants still grow tall and lanky cut off one-third of the growth.

Deadheading Monarda Plants

Here’s how to deadhead bee balm.

To keep plants flowering, remove dead flowers. Pinch the stem back just above the next flower bud.

When finished blooming, cut plants back to the ground. Use garden clippers to cut stems too rigid to pinch and encourage vigorous spring growth.

Pests and Disease Problems

Common insects attack Bee Balm such as black aphids and damaging red spider mites.

Control pests by spraying insecticidal soaps once a month. Increase the spraying frequency if infestation intensifies.

Read more on –> Getting Rid of Aphids Organically

What To Do About Of Powdery Mildew On Bee Balm

Is your red Monarda leaves covered with white powder?

The cause?

Powdery Mildew is the primary disease affecting Bee Balm. This fungus often shows up even under the best growing conditions.

Severe symptoms show up in areas where plants are overcrowded.

To curb the disease:

  • Use the recommended spacing of 12” – 24” inches between plants
  • Select a location where the plant receives lots of sunlight and air circulation
  • Remove and destroy the disease-infested plants

Selecting mildew resistant varieties will also help. Some of the varieties include:

  • Gardenview Scarlet – scarlet-red flowers
  • Marshalls Delight – bright pink flowers
  • Violet Queen – violet-blue flowers
  • Colrain Red – purplish-red flowers
  • Raspberry Wine – wine-red flowers

Bee Balm Deer Resistant?

One massive “pest” in many gardens across North America is deer feeding on plants in the garden.

One question often asked – “Is Bee Balm Deer Resistant?”

The Monarda plant attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies but also functions in the garden as a deer repellant.

How To Propagate Bee Balm From Seed or Division

Propagating Bee Balm From Seed

Before you can sow seed, you first need to acquire the seed to plant. You can purchase seed or collect the seed.

How To Collect Bee Balm Seeds

Expect Monarda seeds to mature one to four weeks after blooming.

  • When collecting seeds wait until the flowers fade and seedhead (flower) turns brown and is ready to harvest.
  • Test for maturity by placing a brown bag over the seedhead
  • Bend the seedhead over and shake the white to cream-colored, or light brown to dark brown seeds into the brown bag
  • The seeds are mature and ready to harvest if they fall into the bag
  • Next, the cut flowerhead into a brown bag and allow the seedhead to dry even longer
  • After drying several more days shake to get more seed out of the flowerhead
  • Spread the collected seeds out on a paper towel to dry for an additional few days
  • Label and store dried seeds in the refrigerator in a sealed container like a ball jar.

Both Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and Monarda didyma produce plenty of seed.

NOTE: Some of the newer cultivars produced may NOT produce seed.

How To Plant Bee Balm Seeds

  • Sow seeds directly in the flower garden after all the danger of frost
  • When starting indoors, sow seeds in pots 5 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost
  • Cover seeds lightly with an eighth inch of moist soil and give them plenty of space
  • When transplanting to the garden, dig a good size hole, apply general-purpose fertilizer and firm the soil around the plant.
  • Water thoroughly

Dividing Clumps Of Monarda

Although you can start Bee Balm from seeds, the easiest way to propagate is by the division of clumps.

Plants can spread quickly and need dividing every 3 or 4 years during the spring.

When new growth appears in spring, using a knife cut out the center hardwood section and divide into multiple clumps.

Throw out old center hardwood section and replant the outer shoots and roots 12” – 24” inches apart.

Uses For Monarda Plants In The Garden

A long blooming season makes planting bee balm an excellent choice for sunny, showy perennial borders.

  • They make colorful additions when naturalized around ponds or included in herb gardens.
  • As the common name “bee balm” implies, bees love the tasty nectar the colorful flowers supply.
  • Other pollinators who love the nectar are butterflies, hummingbirds, and other winged friends. It is a must in any butterfly garden.
  • The strong scent proves an effective mosquito repellent plant. Generally, its ability to control mosquito works best when leaves are crushed to release the fragrant essential oils.

Other Uses For Bee Balms

  • Dry leaves for use as a tea to soothe cold symptoms, sore throat, headache, and congestion.
  • Made into a tincture
  • Oswego tea or bee balm tea is used to treat stomach issues such as gas, vomiting, nausea, and reduce muscle spasm.
  • Dry leaves and flowers to use as an aromatic suitable for sachets and potpourri.
  • Monarda contains high concentrations of Thymol, a strong antiseptic, common in mouthwashes.

According to Cornell University, the “Red-flowered forms are reputed to make the most flavorable teas and be more resistant to deer damage.”

Top Monarda Varieties

The Mt. Cuba Center spent 3 years in a trial which included 40 Monarda species and cultivars.

The characteristics of each cultivar were evaluated for foliage, habit, quality, disease resistance and floral display.

Below are the Monarda varieties selected as the best performers for the mid-Atlantic region.

  • Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace’
  • Monarda ‘Dark Ponticum’
  • Monarda ‘Violet Queen’
  • Monarda ‘AChall’ (Grand Marshall)
  • Monarda ‘Judith’s Fancy Fuchsia’
  • Monarda ‘Colrain Red’
  • Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’
  • Monarda ‘Purple Rooster’
  • Monarda ‘On Parade’
  • Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’

Related Reading – How To Care For Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Harvest and Storage

  • Pick flowers as they appear in summer.
  • Cut whole stems to enjoy the flowers.
  • Pick flowers before they open for drying.

Monarda, Oswego Tea or Bee-Balm History As Described 65 Years Ago

It is always fun to read about plants from decades ago and WHAT we can learn. Below comes from a 1950 article (with minor edits) describing Bee Balm or Monarda.

Bee Balm (Monarda) is a very old plant in English gardens treasured as a valuable and striking feature for the herbaceous border and moist positions elsewhere. In the writer’s garden, the plant grows in light soil, in a border facing west, in company with Iris kaempferi, another moisture lover.

However, it is content with dryish conditions in our gardens. Monarda flowers from July to September.

It appears we owe this charming plant to an American, a Mr. J. Bartram of Philadelphia, who as far back as 1744, sent seeds to a friend in England where it flowered the following year.

Mr. Bartram found the plant growing at Oswego, hence one of its popular names, oswego tea. It is found wild by streams in eastern Canada and in the eastern states as far south as Georgia.

Another interesting feature of Monarda is the pleasant scent of its foliage which explains the other common name, Bee-Balm. The fine, rich red flowers, in clusters, are generally produced at the top of the stems which are about two ft. high.

As in all red flowers, discrimination is desirable in choosing its associates. In the writer’s opinion, it contrasts agreeably with the lovely blue-flowered plant, Ceratostigma willmottianum, which flowers from July until frost.

Monarda is easily propagated by division or by seeds which it freely produces. The fine form known as Cambridge Scarlet is a seedling raised years ago.

Frequently Asked Questions About Monarda (Bee Balm)

Wait! Before You Plant…

Always check first that plants are:

  1. Recommended for your growing zone.
  2. Not invasive in your area.
  3. Suit your growing conditions (sun, soil, water).
  4. Can cope with your specific location and weather conditions (e.g. high winds).

1 Is bee balm invasive?

I’ll answer personally but please always check with local authorities or your university extension office for advice/opinions on invasive plants. Invasiveness is regional and what works in one area can be detrimental in another.

For me, bee balm / monarda spreads readily but I personally would not give it the invasive classification. To me, invasive means you will regret having the plant in your garden forevermore because it is impossible or nearly impossible to eradicate. Bee balm is not like this. It spreads by underground runners but they are not terribly sneaky. In my garden, it is possible to remove the roots and bid it farewell.

2 Can I grow bee balm in containers?

Yes, although I have not tried this because I like how it spreads in the garden but I have seen others do so with dwarf varieties. I do not know if taller varieties would grow in containers but I assume they would. If you try it, let me know.

3 Which color of bee balm do hummingbirds like?

I have pink, purple, and red bee balm. The hummers spend most of their time with the red, though they do check out the others as well. One afternoon I will have to spend a few hours observing to confirm if they truly are favoring the red or it’s just because it is more abundant.

4 Do I need to prune bee balm?

When flowering is done, the current growth will gradually die back. You can cut the stalks down to 4-inches in late fall or early spring. The reason I don’t cut them right to the ground is, I use the old growth to tell me where the plant roots are so I do not accidentally pull it up during my spring garden clean-up, mistaking it for a weed.

Happy gardening! And be sure to sign up for the free newsletter.

~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛

Leaves Of Bee Balm Stock Photos and Images

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  • Melissa officinalis ‘Lime Balm’ leaves.
  • Green, young foliage, leaves of Bee Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Melissa officinalis ‘Lime Balm’ leaves.
  • Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, leaf, leaves, Zitronenmelisse, Zitronen-Melisse, Blatt, Blätter, Melisse, Melissa officinalis, Kräutertee
  • Green, young foliage, leaves of Bee Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Monarda squaw red. Bergamot Squaw. Bee Balm Squaw
  • Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, leaf, leaves, Zitronenmelisse, Zitronen-Melisse, Blatt, Blätter, Melisse, Melissa officinalis, Kräutertee
  • Green, young foliage, leaves of Bee Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Monarda squaw red. Bergamot Squaw. Bee Balm Squaw
  • Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, leaf, leaves, Zitronenmelisse, Zitronen-Melisse, Blatt, Blätter, Melisse, Melissa officinalis, Kräutertee
  • Green, young foliage, leaves of Bee Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Monarda squaw red. Bergamot Squaw. Bee Balm Squaw
  • bee balm or bergamot (Monarda didyma)
  • Green, young foliage, leaves of Bee Balm, Monarda didyma
  • Monarda squaw red. Bergamot Squaw. Bee Balm Squaw
  • Monarda pink lace,
  • Bergamot Monarda ‘Petite delight’ flower. Beebalm ‘Petite Delight’ in an english garden. UK
  • Bee balm plant leaves.
  • Honey bee on catnip flower in late summer sun
  • Bee Balm, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), stem with leaves, studio picture
  • Lemon balm tea
  • Honey bee on catnip flower in late summer sun
  • Lemon balm leaves close up
  • Lemon balm
  • Pink bee balm flower heads blooming in the garden
  • Grasshopper foraging on spent bee balm plant in the garden.
  • Purple Bee Balm Flower against dark garden background.
  • Pink bee balm flower heads blooming in the garden
  • Grasshopper foraging on spent bee balm plant in the garden.
  • Lemon balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetatively as well as by seed.
  • Bee on Bee Balm in the Summer
  • Monarda fistulosathe wild bergamot or bee balm, is a wildflower in the mint family (Lamiaceae)
  • Lemon balm grows in clumps and spreads vegetatively as well as by seed.
  • Bergamont-bee balm-oswego tea
  • Monarda fistulosathe wild bergamot or bee balm, is a wildflower in the mint family (Lamiaceae)
  • Summer in Nova Scotia: Closeup of Bee Balm (wild bergamot) Flowers
  • Scarlet red flowers of Monarda Didyma (Bee Balm)
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Closeup of pink a field of Bee Balm ( Monarda) blooming in garden,Quebec,Canada
  • Scarlet red flowers of Monarda Didyma (Bee Balm)
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Berberis thunbergii – Barberry, white, purple Monarda – Bee balm, white Leucanthemum vulgare – Ox-eye daisy flowers in summer border.
  • Bergamot – Monarda didyma
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Melissa, lemon balm green growing in the garden
  • Beautiful red flower of the Monarda horsemint
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Redpurple Beebalm, Temynta (Monarda russeliana)
  • Melissa officinalis Aurea, green and yellow leaves
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Redpurple Beebalm, Temynta (Monarda russeliana)
  • Monarda didyma flower
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Monardella odoratissima in bud. Albion Basin, Alta Utah, USA
  • Monarda didyma flower
  • Bee Balm in Bloom.
  • Closeup of pink blooming Monarda, also known as bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea and bergamot, foliage and flower, horizontal
  • Monarda in bloom.
  • Square/Hot Garden in November at RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • . Descriptive catalog of vegetables. Commercial catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Catalogs; Herbs Catalogs. BREEDERS AND GROWERS. 101 HERBS: Aromatic and Medicinal A—Annual; B—Biennial; P—Perennial Anise Pimpinella anisum. A. Seeds for cakes and cookies; leaves for garnishing. Not to be confused with Florence Fennel (page 50). Balm (Lemon Balm) Melissa officinalis. P. Fragrant lemon-scented leaves. Borage Borago officinalis. A. Fuzzy leaves of cucumber flavor. A bee plant. Caraway Carum carui. B. Seeds for cakes and condiments. Corian
  • A Monarda plant with purple blooms.
  • Square/Hot Garden in November at RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • . Descriptive catalog of vegetables. Commercial catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Catalogs; Herbs Catalogs. BREEDERS AND GROWERS. 101 HERBS: Aromatic and Medicinal A—Annual; B—Biennial; P—Perennial Anise Pimpinella anisum. A. Seeds for cakes and cookies; leaves for garnishing. Not to be confused with Florence Fennel (page 50). Balm (Lemon Balm) Melissa officinalis. P. Fragrant lemon-scented leaves. Borage Borago officinalis. A. Fuzzy leaves of cucumber flavor. A bee plant. Caraway Carum carui. B. Seeds for cakes and condiments. Corian
  • flowering red bergamot plant in english garden
  • Square/Hot Garden in November at RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • . Catalogue 1915 : seeds, bulbs, shrubs. Seeds Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Flowers Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Seeds Catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs. Anise (Annual). Seeds used for flavoring and medicinal pur- poses. Leaves used for garnishing. Pkt., 5c; oz., 10c. Balm (Perennial). Leaves used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 5c; oz., 20c. Basil, Sweet (Annual). The seeds and stems used for fla- voring. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Borage (Annual). Good bee plant. Also leaves can be used for salads. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Catnip. Used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 10c; oz., 35c. Caravi’ay. See
  • The Hot Garden in Summer, RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • Foliage of herb Lemon Balm or Bee Balm Botanical name Melissa officinalis
  • . Catalogue 1915 : seeds, bulbs, shrubs. Seeds Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Flowers Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Seeds Catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs. Anise (Annual). Seeds used for flavoring and medicinal pur- poses. Leaves used for garnishing. Pkt., 5c; oz., 10c. Balm (Perennial). Leaves used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 5c; oz., 20c. Basil, Sweet (Annual). The seeds and stems used for fla- voring. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Borage (Annual). Good bee plant. Also leaves can be used for salads. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Catnip. Used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 10c; oz., 35c. Caravi’ay. See
  • The Hot Garden in Summer, RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • Mint. Fresh mint growing.(Mentha piperita)
  • . Barnard’s seeds, bulbs, shrubs 1917. Seeds Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Flowers Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Seeds Catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs. Anise (Annual). Seeds used for flavoring and medicinal pur- poses. Leaves used for garnishing. Pkt., 5c; oz., 10c. Balm (Perennial). Leaves used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 5c; oz., 20c. Basil, Sweet (Annual). The seeds and stems used for fla- voring.. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Borage (Annual). Good bee plant. Also leaves can be used for salads. Pkt., 5c; oz., 15c. Catnip. Used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 10c; oz., 35c. Caraway. Seeds
  • The Hot Garden in Summer, RHS Rosemoor, Devon, England, United Kingdom
  • Bergamot Flower
  • . Barnard’s seeds, bulbs, shrubs 1918. Seeds Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Flowers Seeds Catalogs; Fruit Seeds Catalogs; Nurseries (Horticulture) Catalogs. Anise (Annual). Seeds used for flavoring and medicinal pur- poses. Leaves used for garnishing. Pkt., 5c; oz., 20c. Balm (Perennial). Leaves used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 5c; oz., 25c. Basil, Sweet (Annual). The seeds and stems used for fla- voring. Pkt., 5c; oz., 25c. Borage (Annual). Good bee plant. Also leaves can be used for salads. Pkt., 5c; oz., 25c. Catnip. Used for medicinal purposes. Pkt., 10c; oz., 35c. Caraway. Seeds u
  • Bergamot Flower
  • tea
  • . New seed annual of Hopkins’ northern grown seeds. Nursery stock Vermont Brattleboro Catalogs; Vegetables Seeds Catalogs; Flowers Seeds Catalogs. DANDELION. KALE—Dwarf German.—Pkt. 5c., oz. loc,. HERBS. POT, SWEET AND MEDICINAL. PKT. OZ. Anise.—Used for flavoring 5 10 Balm.—Very fragrant leaves 5 15 Borage.—Flowers furnish bee pasture 5 15 Caraway.—Seeds used for flavoring 5 10 Coriander.—Seeds used for flavoring 5 10 Dill.—Used for flavoring pickles 5 10 Horehound.—Useful for curing coughs 5 30 Hop Seed 25I1.50 Lavender.—Leaves very fragrant 5 20 Rosemary.—Leaves very fragrant 5 40 PKT. OZ-
  • Citrus bergamia, Bergamot leaves.
  • Pink Coneflower Echinacea
  • Herbs, flowers, dried lemon slices and vintage silver spoons on concrete background.
  • Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’, Bergamot, Monarda, Red subject.
  • Pink Coneflower Echinacea
  • Silver spoons full of spices, herbs and floral teas, on black slate background.
  • flowering pink Monarda, bee balm, natural floral macro background
  • Bergamot – Monarda didyma
  • Rusty vintage scissors, herbs and flowers on concrete background.
  • flowering pink Monarda, bee balm, natural floral macro background
  • Oswego-tea (Monarda didyma)
  • Lemon bee balm (Monarda citriodora) with mildew
  • Closeup of bee balm in a herb garden
  • Melissa
  • . Ellwanger & Barry’s catalogue : ornamental trees, shrubs, etc. Nurseries (Horticulture) New York (State) Rochester Catalogs; Ornamental trees Catalogs; Shrubs Catalogs; Roses Catalogs; Flowers Catalogs. 116 ELL WANG EE & BARRY’S CATALOGUE. MALVA. Mallow. M. Morenii. Rosy blush floAvers, two and one-half inches across; leaves resemble those of the Oak ; two to three feet. June or July. M. multifida alba. White flowers; two feet. July. MONAKDA. Horse-mint, or Balm. Pretty plants producing bright red flowers. M. didyma. Bee-balm, or Oswego Tea. Scarlet flowers; two to three feet; a very
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda Fistulosa) in Togakushi, Japan
  • Gardenview Scarlet Bee Balm
  • Bergamot planted in Morningside Park
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda Fistulosa) in Togakushi, Japan
  • Gardenview Scarlet Bee Balm
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Bee balm

Bee Balm

Whether you call it bee balm, monarda, bergamot, or Oswego tea, this plant is great for bringing pollinators to the garden. Blossoms reminiscent of fireworks in a variety of colors mean more than just pollinators enjoy these blooms! Vigorous growth and a long bloom time also make this plant a standout in any garden setting. The many additional uses of different parts of the plant make them handy to have around.

genus name
  • Monarda
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Perennial
height
  • 1 to 3 feet,
  • 3 to 8 feet
width
  • To 2 feet wide
flower color
  • Purple,
  • Red,
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Fragrance,
  • Cut Flowers
zones
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
propagation
  • Division,
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Colorful Combinations

The many different colors and forms available mean you really can’t go wrong when choosing a bee balm plant. Because of the popularity of pollinator plants lately, there has been a surge of availability of many lesser-known bee balms. This resulted in an increase of colors as well. Typically blooms fall between warm red and cool lavenders. They work well with almost any color scheme in a garden. The blooms begin in early summer, and many varieties continue well into the fall. In order to encourage constant blooms, remove old blossoms.

See more late-summer annuals and perennials that burst with color.

Bee Balm Care Must-Knows

One of the most important things to know about bee balm is that they are vigorous plants. In small garden settings, some varieties of bee balm can out-compete less aggressive neighbors, so be careful where you plant them. Bee balm spreads by rhizomes, or underground stems, which makes them easy to split and divide. They are also one of the top rabbit-resistant plants for your garden.

Ideally, bee balm should be planted in full sun—obvious considering it’s native to the South. This allows them to put on the best floral display and create dense growth. Plants in part sun don’t perform as well and tend to get foliar disease issues, something that bee balm is notorious for.

While bee balm can be drought tolerant, most varieties prefer to stay moist, especially during the summer. They do need to be in well-drained soils; standing water causes problems with rot. An exceptionally long period of drought can weaken them, making them susceptible to foliar diseases. To prevent this, supplemental wateringapplied at the plant base may be beneficial in the heat of the summer. (Be sure to avoid wetting the leaves to prevent the spread of fungus.)

The biggest problem with bee balms is that they are susceptible to powdery mildew. Characteristically, powdery mildew shows itself as a white, powdery-looking dust on lower and mid leaves. As this continues, it causes defoliation of the plant, making them look unsightly with naked stems. To prevent this, place plants in areas with good air circulation. Powdery mildew thrives in moist, warm conditions and is spread by wind and water droplets. Clean up any leaf debris because it can harbor dormant spores into the next growing season. While powdery mildew seems unhealthy for your plants, it will generally not kill them. The best way to control it is to look for varieties that are more resistant.

Innovations

Because of the recent rise in popularity of bee balm, a slew of new cultivars has flooded the market lately. This is great news. New work has focused on improving disease resistance, dwarfing plants down to a more manageable size and scale, and introducing new species into the genetic pool and new flower colors.

More Varieties of Bee Balm

Blue Stocking bee balm

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Monarda ‘Blaustrumpf’ has striking lavender-blue flowers that attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies in midsummer. The plant is relatively compact, growing 2-3 feet tall. It is resistant to powdery mildew. Zones 4-9

Bradbury’s bee balm

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Monarda bradburiana is a late-spring bloomer that is also sometimes called eastern bee balm, white bergamot, or eastern horsemint. Fluffy lavender flowers top plants that grow 15-24 inches tall. In autumn, the foliage takes on a deep burgundy hue. It is rarely affected by powdery mildew. Zones 4-9

‘Cambridge Scarlet’ bee balm

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Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ has leafy clumps of 3-foot stems clothed with aromatic oval leaves. The terminal whorls of bright red two-lipped flowers are surrounded by brownish-red bracts. Zones 3-9

‘Lambada’ bee balm

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Monarda citriodora ‘Lambada’ is a Great Plains native plant commonly called lemon bee balm, lemon mint, lemon balm, or purple horsemint. It grows 18-24 inches tall and bears whorls of pink bracts with white flowers dotted with purple. It usually grows as an annual but occasionally survives for a second year of bloom. Zones 3-9

Petite Delight bee balm

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Monarda ‘Acpetdel’ is a compact bee balm that grows only 12-15 inches tall. It has rosy pink blooms in midsummer. Its foliage is mildew-resistant. Zones 3-9

‘Prairie Gypsy’ bee balm

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Monarda bradburiana ‘Prairie Gypsy’ has a long season of bloom, beginning in late spring and lasting through midsummer. It grows 18-24 inches tall. This selection is especially drought-tolerant. Zones 4-9

‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm

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Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ grows about 2-1/2 feet tall and is topped with rounded clusters of rose red two-lipped flowers surrounded by wine red bracts. Zones 3-9

Spotted bee balm

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Monarda punctata is native to most of the eastern half of the United States, where it grows best in dry, sandy soils. The creamy-white flowers dotted in purple are relatively small, but the lavender-pink bracts are quite showy. The plant smells like oregano. Zones 4-10

‘Violet Queen’ bee balm

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Monarda ‘Violet Queen’ grows 3-4 feet tall and bears lavender to violet flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds in midsummer. The fuzzy green foliage has excellent resistance to powdery mildew. Zones 4-9

Wild bergamot

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Monarda fistulosa is native in much of North America and typically grows in sunny sites along roads or in open fields. Its lavender to purple flowers appear from mid- to late-summer on plants that grow 2-4 feet tall. This species has good powdery mildew resistance. Zones 3-9

Plant Bee Balm With:

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Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.

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Asters get their name from the Latin word for “star,” and their flowers are indeed the superstars of the fall garden. Some types of this native plant can reach up to 6 feet with flowers in white and pinks but also, perhaps most strikingly, in rich purples and showy lavenders.Not all asters are fall bloomers. Extend the season by growing some of the summer bloomers, as well. Some are naturally compact; tall types that grow more than 2 feet tall benefit from staking or an early-season pinching or cutting back by about one-third in July or so to keep the plant more compact.

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Purple coneflower is so easy to grow and attractive and draws so many birds and butterflies that you simply must grow it, if you have the room. Valued for its large sturdy daisylike flowers with dropping petals, this prairie native will spread easily in good soil and full sun. It is bothered by few pests or diseases. It’s a great cut flower — bring in armloads of it to brighten the house. And birds and butterflies love it. Allow it to spread so that you have at least a small stand of it. Let the flowers go to seed and the goldfinches will love you, coming to feast on the seeds daily. Butterflies and helpful bees also love purple coneflower.It used to be that rosy purple or white were the only choices in flower color. Recent hybrids have introduced yellow, orange, burgundy, cream, and shades in between.

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With brilliant yellow, pink, or white cups or goblets, beautiful evening primroses are so easy to grow that you’ll see them thriving uncared for along roadsides. Their cup-shape flowers of various sizes open during the day, and many are wonderfully fragrant. Take note, though: Some spread enthusiastically and need control.

Garden Plans For Bee balm

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Monarda plant medicinal uses and images

Monarda also known as Bee Balm is mint’s family flowering plant, and it is native to the North America. It is a wonderful addition to the garden with its red, light purple, and cheerful pink blooms and its fragrant leaves. It has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals.

Monarda plants are perennial, giving you them an advantage of growing them again for the next season. They are both eatable and medicinal. They can be used as flavouring in cooked foods, their flowers can make an attractive garnish in salads, and they are also a rich source of thyme oil. In many parts of the United States, the Bee Balm leaves are used to form a common beverage. It is prepared by brewing the fresh or dried leaves into an aromatic and medicinal tea.

The plant has an upright habit of growing, and it attains a height of 3 or 4 feet. The opposite leaves are lance shaped, slightly rough in texture with toothed or slightly notched margins. The leaflets are of a pale green colour. The flowers of the shrub are usually red, pink, purple, or lilac in colour emerging at the top of the branching stem in large heads of about 20-50 in numbers. Bee Balm roots are short and slender. This species tolerates wet soil, and it will thrive along a waterway and prefer partial shade. It is susceptible to attacks by powdery mildew. The plant blooms from early to late summer.

Plant

Flowers

Bee Balm is quite easily produced even in your garden, and it has a considerable amount ofgenetic crossing between the purple and red flowering species. This resulted in a different breed named cultivars. Monarda have limited preference for development of mildewed foliage during summer humidity. A diversity of this shrub such as Raspberry Wine, Jacob Cline, Marshal’s Delight, and Blue Stocking arethe improved varieties of the species.

Common Name

Bee Balm is also known by other names such as Horsemint, Wild Bergamot, and Oswego tea.

Botanical Name and Family

Botanical Name – Monarda

Family – Lamiaceae

Geographical area where Bee Balm grows

The Bee Balm is grown in North America, which is a thriving woodland area. Monarda blooms in the full sun. It prefers moist and rich soil. It can tolerate shade, particularly in hot summer areas.

Leaves

Medicinal use of Monarda

Monarda flowers, leaves and stems are utilized in alternative medications as an antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, and stimulant.

Some of the uses of Bee Balm are –

  • An infusion is used internally to treat cold, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, reduce low fevers, soothe the throat, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia.
  • It can be used for skin eruptions and infections.
  • Its scent is an effective mosquito repellent but generally works best when its leaves are crushed to release the fragrant oils.
  • It can be used to alleviate stomach and bronchial ailments.

If Bee Balm has to be planted, avoid growing it in congested locations due to bloom stalk’s brittle nature. That is the reason they are mostly restricted to the back of the border.

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