Bee Balm | Monarda
Perennial Herb – wild bergamot
The bee balm plant is a North American native perennial herb. Bee balm is very attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Incredibly beautiful, medicinal, and edible, it’s no wonder the birds and the bees love it! The bee balm flower has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple, and white. It commonly grows to about two to four feet high, though some dwarf varieties are shorter and can make great additions to containers or borders. The name wild bergamot is attributed to its fragrant scent, which is similar to the bergamot orange, a citrus fruit that is used as a flavoring for Earl Grey tea.
Monarda Bee Balm Care and Tips
- Space plants 18-24 inches apart in rich, well-draining soil.
- Give careful thought to placement. Without good air circulation, the leaves can develop powdery mildew. Reduce watering if this appears.
- Divide bee balm every 2 to 3 years to ensure its vigor. Clumps tend to die out from the center.
- Deadhead faded blooms to encourage the plant to re-bloom in late summer. Deadheading the main stem allows the side shoots to develop and bloom. These, too, can be cut when flowers reach the size you want.
- To harvest, either cut stems to about 6 inches below the flower, or gather individual blooms as they flower.
- After the first fall frost, leave seed heads for the birds or cut stems back to about 2 inches above the soil.
- 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 (Lamiaceae). Its foliage has a strong aroma and is sometimes used in herbal teas, salads, and as garnishes. The flowers are also edible.