Why You Should Grow Bee Balm

Bee balm, also known as monarda, horsemint, Oswego tea and bergamot, is a large perennial in the mint family. It’s easy to grow, has beautiful blooms and greatly benefits you and your garden.

There are several breeds and species within the genus, which can range in height from one to six feet, with large blooms in the shape of fireworks that range from white to crimson to dark blue. The leaves contain a fragrant oil and can be used as an herbal tea or a seasoning for meat. The plant also has a lovely antiseptic property.

Why You Should Grow Bee Balm

How to Grow Bee Balm

To grow bee balm in your garden, you’ll want to choose an area that receives full sun but also has moist, well-drained soil. The plant will tolerate partial shade but will flower less and spread out more in these conditions.

Bee balm is relatively hardy, and will tolerate many ground conditions, but excessively dry soil may stunt the plant’s growth. If you have very dry soil, check which cultivars are available to you. Some of them have been bred for high drought resistance. They will bloom from mid- to late summer.

Keep in mind, too, how high you want it to grow. If you want a six-foot plant you’re going to have to choose a wild red cultivar. Though bee balm has been bred to bloom in a wide variety of colors, the more unusual plants tend to be quite short.

Trouble-shooting and Tips

Some of the older cultivars are susceptible to powdery mildew, especially if growing in a shaded area. Other diseases to watch for are rust and, if you happen to live in an area where tobacco is cultivated, occasionally bee balm can contract a tobacco mosaic virus.

With care the plant can shrug these problems off, though slugs can be a problem. Early in the year, slugs can eat the entire new plant, leaving nothing behind. If you have a slug problem, try leaving out small saucers of beer to drown them.

Bee balm is a good companion plant to tomatoes, as the oils in its roots will deter pests from gaining a foothold. However, be warned that since bee balm is in the mint family, it will spread. Be ready to cut it back every year if you want to keep it small.

Removing Trees for Your Bee Balm

When cultivating bee balm and need to clear away trees in order to create an ideal environment, careful consideration and planning are key. Begin by identifying which trees need to be removed so your bee balm receives enough sunlight. Before undertaking tree removal, it is vitally important to first check local regulations or if there are permits required.

Once this step has been accomplished, professional arborists may help safely and efficiently clear away trees. Emergency tree service can also be called if necessary, for instance if a diseased or dangerous tree threatens your property. Safety must always come first when removing trees and also ensure you dispose of them appropriately afterwards. Once the trees have been removed, clear away any debris and enrich the soil by adding compost to increase its moisture-retaining capability.

By doing this, well-draining soil rich in nutrients will provide optimal conditions for bee balm to thrive, while at the same time decreasing risk for shade-induced diseases like powdery mildew, which will contribute to greater plant health and vitality overall.

Bee balms brings nature to your yard!

Bee balm is a good plant to choose if you want to attract wildlife to your garden. The long tube-shaped blooms attract hummingbirds to feed.

As the name suggests, it readily attracts bees. The plant is also a necessary component in the life-cycles of several species of butterfly.

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Tags: garden, gardening, herb gardening, herbs, rural lifestyle, sustainable living
Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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