How to Grow Bee Balm

How to Grow Bee BalmIf you want hordes of butterflies in your garden, then you should learn how to grow bee balm. Growing bee balm attracts loads of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. Plus, with its unusual good lucks and amazing scent, it’s pretty good at attracting human attention too.

Bee balm (Monarda didyma, also known as Oswego tea and bergamot), is an absolutely gorgeous flowering perennial herb that attracts hordes of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A must-have flower for any serious butterfly garden, bee balm is even edible—it’s actually the flavoring in Earl Grey tea.

One of the truly unique—and wonderful—things about it is how easily it releases its gorgeous fragrance. Just brushing up against bergamot’s flowers is enough to free a kaleidoscope of aroma into the air (which is why they make fantastic border plants).

Growing Bee Balm Plants in Your Garden

How to Grow BeebalmWhen it comes to growing bergamot plants, beauty comes with a price: it’s not the easiest perennial flower to maintain in your garden. While bee balm isn’t exactly high maintenance (and what little care it requires is definitely worth the effort), it does have some quirky needs that must be seen to. When learning how to grow bee balm, remember that:

  • Rich, moist soil is essential. Fertile soil is so important in fact, that if you can’t fertilize where your bergamot lives, you might want to consider rotating it every few years to more fertile digs.
  • A fall rebloom requires cutting back plants right after they bloom.
  • Underwatering can lead to mildew and fungal issues. If your beebalm falls prey to mildew, cut diseased stems to the ground. (New growth should be healthy and disease-free). Note that there are mildew-resistant varieties available (like Gardenview Red and Marshall’s Delight).
  • Bee balm is also susceptible to powdery mildew, so don’t plant it near vegetable gardens that have squash and beans (as those plants are susceptible to powdery mildew as well), and make sure you know a few natural ways to control powdery mildew in case you have an outbreak.

How to Grow Bee BalmHarvesting Bergamot (for Tea and Edible Flowers)

If you can bear harvesting this gorgeous herb (and denying your bees and butterflies their fair share!), harvesting bee balm is relatively easy. Ways to harvest bergamot include:

  • Harvest leaves while they are young, and harvest flowers as they open.
  • To eat bee balm flowers, just pick them and use them.
  • To harvest bergamot seeds, wait until the seeds mature (which will be when they fall off the plant when the head is tipped over), collect them, dry them for a few days, and then store them in a dry, airtight container.

For more ways to attract beneficial insects to your garden, see Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden, or visit the Gardening Guides page for more information on natural ways to keep your garden healthy.

Images couresy of Digitalbcon1, Jinger and wackybadger. Thanks!

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