Learning Download: How to Grow Bee Balm
Bee balm, also known as Monarda or wild bergamot, is an herb with pretty flowers and aromatic foliage. It is a perennial that is a part of the mint family, and it attracts beneficial insects to the garden. The bee balm plant is native to North America and has a shape similar to that of a daisy, but its petals are tubular and come in various
colors. Bee balm plants can reach 4 feet high but dwarf varieties grow to a height of about 10 inches, which make it good for a container.
Before Planting: Although bee balm should be planted in rich soil in a sunny area, it can tolerate some shade, especially during the heat of the summer.
Planting: As soon as the danger of frost has passed, plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and 12 inches apart if planting in the garden. Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds sprout.
Watering: Water thoroughly, but do not water the plant from overhead.
Fertilizer: Prior to planting bee balm, add 1 inch of compost to the site in which the seeds will be planted. Work the compost into the soil. Since bee balm is a perennial, it returns each year. Fertilize the plant once a year in the early spring with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Days to Maturity: Once bee balm flowers begin to bloom, pick them often to encourage more growth. (See variety for days to maturity)
Harvesting: Harvest them by cutting 8 to 10 inches worth of stem. If using for teas, tie the stems together and hang upside down until the flowers dry and are brittle to touch. Then, crush the stems, leaves and flowers and store in a sealed container.
Tips: Bee balm can fall victim to powdery mildew, which looks like gray dust appearing on the buds and leaves. If this happens, treat the plant with a fungicide.