Bee Balm Monarda
- Monarda didyma Hardy Planting Zones- 4-9 Sun or Shade – Partial Shade to Full Sun Mature Height - 3-4' Mature Width- 2-3' Bloom Season – Late Summer Gardener Status- Beginner
Bee balm is an important plant that should be grown in all gardens. Its fragrant flowers have a vibrant color that attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This is important because they are all pollinators that can help ensure that you have a bountiful harvest of flowers and vegetables each year.
Bee balm is related to the mint family of plants, so it is safe to have around pets and children. For those who enjoy edible plants with their meals, it provides a colorful, delicious accent. Some people like to add it as a garnish to desserts and salads. It can also be made into a tincture that is an effective antiseptic for treating skin wounds. A tea made from bee balm can be gargled twice a day to heal mouth ulcers and sore throats too.
Though it can be grown during the summer months in northern regions, this perennial does best when it is planted in their zones because winters with negative temperatures can potentially kill it off. The soil that it is planted in should be well-drained and have a pH of about 6.0-6.7. This plant can survive in dryer soil for a short period of time, but it generally prefers to be regularly watered. Plant it in a part of your garden that gets several hours of full sun each day.
Bee balm spreads out with each year that passes by. Because of this, it should be planted at 2 foot intervals within the garden. It can be divided up annually to propagate more plants once it gets large enough. Only divide the plant in the early spring after the last frost has passed. If it is divided up too late into the growing season, it can potentially deter the usual summer flowering of the plant. Bee balm flowers form as exquisitely complex blooms with pink and purple formations rivaling the most dynamic multicolored glass sculptures of Venice. They bring great life to the garden both in their beauty and colorful vibrancy and in their ability to draw the most welcome wildlife visitors.
Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies love bee balm for its nectar and pollen, which is abundant in the buds of bee balm flowers. You’ll have these visitors coming through the day to visit the choice buffet which is your garden’s bee balm beds.
Bee balm also has multiple culinary and herbal medicinal uses adding a practicality that is relevant to the health of the gardener who grows them.
They grow from spring to fall, but they are at their best in the heat of summer. Plant bee balm in the sunniest parts of your garden for the healthiest and most vital blooms.