How to Deadhead Bee Balms


Bee balms are magnificent, but when they are past their prime they should be deadheaded. How do you do it?
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I adore my perennial bee balms because of the lovely flowers they produce each year. Did you know there is a way to encourage this herbaceous plant to produce more flowers?

Learn about the benefits of pruning and how it can help your plant produce more blossoms.

Why Should You Prune?

The process of removing wilted or dead blossoms from a plant is referred to as “deadheading.”

Deadheading bee balm improves the plant’s health and appearance. It promotes plant air circulation, which aids in the prevention of powdery mildew and fungal problems.

When bee balm blooms droop and wilt, the blooming process is halted, allowing seeds to grow. Regular deadheading transfers the energy that goes into producing seeds to the formation of more flowers and continuous blossoming.

You should definitely deadhead your bee balm if you want to encourage more blossoming.

Pink bee balm flowers growing abundantly

When to Deadhead?

When your plant has only a few flowers, you should begin deadheading. This will most likely happen in early summer.

Snipping blossoms that are past their peak every couple of days is best, as it will only take a few minutes. If you wait until the peak of bloom, deadheading will become too much of a chore.

How to Deadhead?

  1. Clean your shears to prevent the spread of fungi, bugs, and infections.
  2. Deadhead the blooms as soon as they begin to droop and die. Remove the flowering stem to within a quarter-inch of a leaf or leaf bud at the top.
  3. It is important to clean up the garden space. With a rake, remove the blossoms and compost or dispose of them.
  4. Every week, look for wilting clusters. Remove old flowers to prevent seed production from weakening the plant.
Green gardening scissors on a wooden table

Prune After Flowering

Mildew can appear on the leaves after a plant has completed blossoming. Cut off all of the infected foliage and throw it into the garbage can, not the compost pile.

Mildew spores can survive the winter and will return in the spring, so a thorough pruning can help prevent mildew formation the next year.

To avoid mildew infections altogether, plant mildew-resistant varieties such as ‘Marshall’s Delight,’ ‘Colrain Red,’ ‘Raspberry Wine,’ and ‘Violet Queen.’

Prune Again in Late Fall

In preparation for winter, cut the entire plant down to 1 to 2 inches tall. Remove any old stalks and clean up the mulch around the plants. Put the cut stalks into the dumpster.

In cold climates, cover the plant with a 3- to 6-inch layer of straw or pine needles after the first heavy frost. Remove the mulch once you start seeing new growth appear in the spring.

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.
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