Bee Balm Plants

The bee balm is a flowering herb that is quite beautiful and it is no surprise that it is popular with not only people but also birds and bees. It seems that all these organisms couldn’t have enough of it.

Another great thing this plant has going for is that it doesn’t take much to grow it. That’s right. You can be a fairly casual gardener and rest assured your bee balm plant will come to its own and grow well. A lot of people both rookie and veteran gardeners plant it pretty much throughout the year.

What is the bee balm (Monarda) plant?

This plant is a member of the mint family of herbs. Most bee balm plants are perennial which means they come back year after year and it produces flowers all year round.

It has squarish stems and its leaves form on opposite sides. It also has rhizomes that keep deep into the soil. Also known as the wild bergamot plant, its flowers range from pink to light purple blooms. The bee balm plant can grow wild in prairies and fields or even on roadsides or forest edges. When it comes to height, the typical plant can reach an average of two to four feet. With that said, there are also dwarf varieties of it if you are pressed for space or you just need something shorter.

If you are looking for borders, hedges, or a container area for other plants and herbs, you might want to consider the bee balm plant. A lot of professional gardeners use them as such. When it comes to pollination, it has a wide range of pollinators from bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It seems that there is no shortage of animal life willing and eager to pollinate this plant.

Do hummingbirds like bee balm?

Yes. The hummingbirds are attracted by the bee balm flowers especially the red ones. Growing these plants in your backyard will lure the hummingbirds to your garden.

Hummingbird drinking natural nectar from red bee balm flowers

Can you eat bee balm?

The bee balm plant is edible. Bee balm which belongs to mint family has a long been used by traditional societies for medicinal use. The herb is known to have medicinal qualities.

How to Propagate and Grow Bee Balm Plant?

You have three choices when it comes to propagating this amazing plant. You can grow them from cuttings, divisions, or seeds.

Grow from cuttings

This is a little bit tricky. In fact, this is not the preferred way to breed bee balm plants but you can grow them through cuttings.

What you need to do is cut six inches of spring growth below the set of leaves. Put the cuttings in tiny pots with peat moss, vermiculite, pearlite, or any other combination of these materials. You can choose to use rooting hormone if you are short on time. This is not necessary because with the right medium, the cuttings will sprout roots on its own but if you want to speed things up, you can definitely use rooting hormones.

Make sure that the cutting is watered sufficiently and covered with a plastic bag to keep all the moisture in. In about two to three weeks, the stems should have taken root. Once you see the roots come out, remove the bag and replant into the soil. To maximize your propagation chances, make sure you start with a high number of cuttings because a lot of them may not sprout.

Using divisions

This is the easiest way to grow bee balm plants.

Generally, the plant will have the main stem but it will also create babies around it. These are miniature versions of the main plant. Pull these up by the roots by using your pruning shears and then replant them in your pots and garden beds eighteen to twenty-four inches apart. These are already growing so their survival rate is quite high when compared to cuttings.

Germinate them from seeds

If you have a lot of time on your hands and you can’t get access to divisions, the best thing you can do is to use seeds. Here are the steps to grow bee balm from seeds.

  1. Put them in a sand-filled plastic bag and store it in your fridge.
  2. Keep it moist for a month.
  3. Take out the seeds early in the spring and let a few weeks pass after the winter frost.
  4. Add compost to the soil and put the seeds without cover.
  5. Make sure that you place them in an area with moderate amount of sunlight since seeds need light to germinate on top of the soil.

Altogether, the seed germination process of the bee balm flower plant takes anywhere from ten to forty days. You will need to stratify the seeds before planting.

Growing bee balm flower plant

This plant loves the sun and will thrive in hotter areas even under direct sunlight. Although it also benefits from the afternoon shade.

It is not a very picky plant and can grow even in heavy clay soil. However, if you want the very best results, it’s better to plant these in soil that drains easily and is packed with rich nutrients. Generally, the pH level you should gun for when it comes to bee balm flower plants is between six and seven. Pay close attention to soil and air circulation. The soil must drain quickly, why? All of these factors are to make sure that mildew doesn’t become a problem for your plant.

You can regularly add compost and mulching to ensure that it has everything it needs to breathe and grow. Mulching also tends to cut back on weeds that may compete with your young plant for soil nutrients. The good news is once it establishes itself, it can be quite tough. How tough is the bee balm plant? Well it’s been known to survive droughts. Still, to reach that stage, make sure to water it regularly but just enough to make it moist. Do not keep it in a soggy state otherwise, you might have a mildew problem on your hands soon enough.