Bee Balm Plant Information and Care Guide


Bee balm plants have beautiful blossoms and attract pollinators. Are you taking care of it correctly?
By     

When I first started my garden, I wanted to establish native plants with lovely, colorful blossoms. After some searching, I learned that bee balm was just what I needed. Best of all, true to its name, it attracts pollinators to my garden.

If you’re looking for a plant to add long-lasting color to your garden, bee balm may be the answer—the plants are long-blooming perennials that grow swiftly and can reach heights of three feet or more.

General Information

Bee balm is an herbaceous perennial native to North America, valued for its beautiful, colorful flowers. Bee balm belongs to the mint family, with fragrant leaves and a variety of culinary and medicinal uses.

Bee balm plants bloom in mid to late summer with clusters of crimson, pink, or purple tubular blossoms and are best planted in the spring or autumn. The plants attract a range of useful animals to the garden, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. 

Purple flowers of beebalm plant fully blooming

Why Grow Bee Balm?

The blossoms of Bee Balm are quite beautiful, as evidenced by the photos. They’re capable of putting on quite a show. I have planted them in my garden and let them compete for space with other grasses and flowers. 

Apart from blossoming, the most important reason to cultivate bee balm is that it is good for pollinators! Bees and other pollinators will be drawn to the plants due to the large quantity of blossoms and the length of the bloom period. Overall, this plant might be considered a pollinator powerhouse.

Hummingbirds are drawn to all varieties, but particularly to monarda didyma and fistulosa.

I have also spotted hummingbird moths near my plants, which look much like lethargic hummingbirds.

Which Variety to Grow?

Every variety of bee balm is lovely. My favorite variety is mondarda fistulosa. This pink variety appears to thrive practically anywhere, including in the hard clay soil of my garden.

Pink beebalm flower blooming in the garden

Care Guide

Watering

Bee balm is a moisture-loving plant that thrives in wet conditions. As a result, depending on your climate and location, you should water the plant frequently enough so that the soil never dries out completely.

A constant watering regimen is especially important during the first year of cultivation, when the root system establishes itself.

Fertilization

Bee balm does not require as much or as frequent fertilization as other plants. In the early spring, a small amount of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, sprinkled around each plant is usually sufficient.

Excessive fertilization should be avoided since that can lead to powdery mildew on the plant.

Pruning

Fans of bee balm appreciate the plant’s wild, rustic appearance, but it should still be pruned on a regular basis. Consistenteadheading will lengthen the blooming season and avoid self-seeding.

To keep invaders from competing with the plant’s shallow roots, weed the plant’s base on a regular basis.

Violet flower of a beebalm plant

Diseases and Pests

There are a few insects that like to eat bee balm, but they’re usually easy to deal with. Aphids feed on plant foliage, draining it and secreting honeydew, a sticky liquid that covers the leaves and can lead to mold formation.

Spider mites consume bee balm plants by sucking fluid from the leaves and petals. Plants may develop spotting, discoloration, and deformed foliage, and they may finally lose their leaves.

Stalk borer larvae burrow into plant stems and feed on the tissue within. Yellow trash will surround wilting plants with tiny holes in the stems. When cutting through the stem, you can find 1.5-inch-long caterpillars.

In all of these instances, regular weeding and early identification of insects can help you eliminate the problem quickly, usually by using insecticidal soap.

Powdery mildew is a fungus that frequently wreaks havoc on bee balm plants. This gray, powdery fungus settles on the plant’s foliage and spreads from there, browning and drooping the leaves.

It survives on plant waste and spreads its spores by wind and water. It thrives in humid settings with minimal air movement.

While mildew is unavoidable during high-humidity seasons, there are precautions you may take to reduce the risk of mildew.

To begin, select a planting place that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. In the spring, thin the stems to enable more light and air into the plant. Divide the plants every few years in the autumn. Reduce watering, especially during periods of high humidity. Avoid overhead watering. Weed on a regular basis to improve air circulation. Mulching can also help with moisture regulation.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
More ArticlesFlowers and Ornamentals