We all desire to encourage pollinators to populate our gardens. After ~ all, there is no those pollinating insects, we don’t have flowers or produce! and so, to draw valuable insects come our yards, we tend to usage plants prefer bee balm.

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But what is it, exactly? It’s a component of the mint family members (Lamiaceae), and also an dreadful lot of civilization grow it… go that typical it’s a mint? walk it carry out anything much more than just look pretty?

Today, we’ll go over several of the Monarda species of plants, and also examine the differences in between these different varieties of punishment balm. We’ll discuss:

How to treatment for annual and also perennial varietiesHow to propagate new onesTalk about the historical uses of these plants

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Bee enjoyment Overview

Common Name(s)Bee balm, eastern beebalm, Bradbury’s beebalm, lemon beebalm, etc.
Scientific NameMonarda bradburiana, Monarda citriodora, Monarda clinopodioides, and others
FamilyLamiaceae
OriginUnited States
Height12-36” depending on species
LightFull sun to afternoon component shade
WaterModerate, however is drought-tolerant
TemperatureAnnuals choose 45 degree and up, perennials can overwinter
HumidityAverage
SoilAverage to rich
FertilizerCompost or all-purpose plant fertilizer (slow-release or liquid)
PropagationDivision, cuttings, or seeds
PestsStalk borers, spider mites, thrips. Also is susceptible to powdery mildew and also root rot in the best conditions.

Types of bee Balm

There are many different arrays of the Monarda species, and about 50 commercial cultivars generally available. But an awful the majority of bee balm ranges are naturally-growing wildflowers in the joined States. Let’s look at a short list of several of the varieties and the differences in between them.

Monarda bradburiana, ‘Eastern beebalm’

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Monarda bradburiana. Source: peganum

This perennial range has a lower cushion that rich environment-friendly foliage, v lightly-toothed edges follow me oval leaves. Climbing above, the flower stems tinge in the direction of purple, and culminate in a lavender come light violet flower. The flower produce large amounts that nectar, i m sorry draws a selection of wildlife from bumblebees to hummingbirds. It’s indigenous to the main and southeast joined States.

Monarda citriodora, ‘Lemon beebalm’

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Monarda citriodora. Source: Larry Smith2010

An annual, lemon punishment balm is often found as a wildflower in much of the unified States and also into Mexico, yet is also widely cultivated. This monarda does no look anything favor Bradbury’s, in the it has long spear-like or grassy leaves and a much more compact plant base. The stem rises native the facility of the plant and also has multiple violet or purplish-pink florets stacked atop it.

The lemon component of that is name refers to the lemony odor that brand-new leaves have when crushed, caused by naturally-forming citronellol, and also it’s frequently used as pest repellent in gardens due to the fact that of that aroma. However, it have to not be perplexed with the various other plant generally known as “lemon mint”, despite sharing the name.

Monarda clinopodioides, ‘Basil beebalm’

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Monarda clinopodioides. Source: iNaturalist

The yearly known as basil bee balm is a indigenous of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. This plant is a bit woody, with long slender pipeline on the flower stalks blended with slightly oblong leaves at the plant’s base. The flower stalk supports multiple florets of pale purple punishment balm flower stacked neatly in a conical form.

Monarda didyma, ‘Crimson beebalm’

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Monarda didyma. Source: coloneljohnbritt

This popular ornamental tree is a perennial. Aboriginal to the eastern unified States, that is widely naturalized transparent the remainder of the US and also in components of Europe and also Asia. Showy tubular flowers in inflorescences of around 30 around a main bract remainder at the reminder of a colorful green stem, surrounding by lush green leaves. Over there are many different cultivars which create colors of tool to dark red, white, purple and also pink flowers. But the ax bergamot is misleading, together no monarda is a true “bergamot” of the form used to odor teas.

Monarda fistulosa, ‘Wild bergamot’

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Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Source: wackybadger

A wild perennial, the wild bergamot produce showy lavender or pink blossoms throughout the summer months. Every flower swarm on the branch can produce in between 20-50 flowers, and also rests over brilliant environment-friendly herbaceous foliage. There are multiple varieties of this plant, numerous of which have actually slightly various odors. In fact, native American tribal world recognized at least 4 separate sport for your scents, every indicating various uses for the plant.

Monarda media, ‘Purple bergamot’

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Purple Bergamot (Monarda media). Source: tgpotterfield

Typically found in swampier environments such together riverbeds, this perennial has lance-shaped leaves and square stalks. In ~ the optimal of the stalk forms a huge inflorescence in a reddish-purple hue, made up of numerous smaller flowers roughly a seed head. While it is no a true bergamot any more than Monarda fistulosa or Mondarda didyma, it has a comparable aroma to the bergamot orange supplied for scenting commercial teas. The is common throughout the eastern joined States and also into Canada.

Monarda punctata, ‘Spotted beebalm’

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Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata). Source: mar Keim

The spotted punishment balm have the right to be either an annual or a perennial depending upon its environment. It appears to donate sandy soils with great drainage. The flower heads are stacks of flowers, each v its own bract, and are yellow with purple spots and occasionally violet petal-tips. The leaf is slender-leaved and also bright eco-friendly in hue. Monarda punctata is a significant draw for beneficial bugs, especially helpful predatory wasps. It has actually a thyme-like aroma.

Bee balm Care

It’s easy to grow, together it’s a really forgiving plant. You’ll desire to pick a location with an excellent growing conditions: ample light, well-draining soil, and also if you’re growing it come encourage beneficial insects or hummingbirds come visit her yard to pollinate or to assist wipe out pests, you’ll want to location it near your food plants. But let’s look a tiny closer at what the optimal conditions to thrive bee balm are.

Light

It’s a full sun plant, for this reason in much of the unified States, you have the right to plant the in complete sun to encourage blooming. In hotter areas of the south or southwestern US, a tiny afternoon shade will aid the flowering season to critical a bit longer and also will safeguard the perennial arrays from the scorching warm of the afternoon.

Water

Most arrays are fairly drought-tolerant, but they carry out much much better with consistent watering. Maintaining the floor damp however not wet must be adequate. Be certain that the area you plant in does not get soggy during the winter months and also stays well-draining so you execute not drown your perennial varieties! An exception to this is Monarda media, which likes an ext moisture, yet even climate it does require room because that the root to breathe together well.

Soil

Monardas don’t always like too many wet soil, for this reason it’s important that her soil is maybe to drain off any kind of excess water. The wild develops of this plant are not at every picky in regards to soil fertility, and are known to flourish in anything from sandy soils to potting mix. Advertising cultivars choose slightly richer soil, likely since of years of propagation in better quality soils. The pH of your soil must ideally variety between 6.0 and also 6.7 for finest growth, and I favor to include some compost to the bed to provide the floor extra nutrient value before planting.

Fertilizer

There space two usual fertilization techniques.

A quite layer of top-dressed compost in the spring followed by a couple inches of mulch will sell plenty of tree nutrition together with some weed prevention.

Alternately, you can use a general-purpose essential fertilizer, one of two people a slow-release granular kind dug right into the soil or a liquid formula. One of two people of these alternatives should save it well-fed.

Repotting

Bee balm often develops a rather thick root round in pots. Once repotting, it is regularly a an excellent idea to division the plant to ensure that it doesn’t obtain too rootbound. Begin out through loosening the soil approximately the roots, and also then gently functioning a shovel in ~ the source ball. Pry the upward closely until you can totally free the plant from the pot.

If you are going to division the plant, shake it gently and brush off as much loose soil as possible without harming the plant. When you’re able to see the individual roots, cut through the more thick roots v a pair the pruning shears, and then gently pry the 2 segments personal to keep the smaller roots. You want to make certain that every department has plenty of root mass come regrow from.

When you have the plants split down come the dimension you desire, check the roots, trimming off any kind of which appear slimy or partially-rotten. Similarly, trim off any type of weak or broken stems native the plant. Work easily so the the roots perform not dry out, and immediately replant in brand-new pots or garden beds when you’ve gained your tree prepared.

Propagation

While you have the right to divide punishment balm together mentioned over in the repotting segment, that can also be grown from cuttings or indigenous seeds.

If propagating indigenous cuttings, select new spring development from the tips of the stems, cutting them at the very least six inch long and just listed below a set of leaves. Location your reduced stems into a small pot which is filled through perlite, peat moss, vermiculite, or a blend of any of these options. Water them well and set them within a plastic bag to help retain some moisture. Once they have actually taken root, remove the plastic bag and repot her cuttings in potting soil and also place in a sunny window or greenhouse until you are prepared to replant elsewhere.

If girlfriend are cultivation from seed, an initial make certain your punishment balm seed is not from a hybrid cultivar, as they regularly do no breed true. Plant your seeds in the very early spring as soon as the soil is tho cool and also there is quiet a opportunity of light frost. Once your seedling plants have developed at least two set of true leaves, you have the right to then thin them under to 18-24″ personally or transplant castle to space them out as needed.

You deserve to save seeds from her plants, back if it’s a hybrid, it most likely will not breed true. Generally, the seed are ready for harvest one to three weeks after ~ the flowers have bloomed. Carefully place a document bag at the basic of your plant, and also then gently bending a stalk over the bag and also tap it. If brown seeds fall into the bag, the seed is all set to it is in collected. Enable the seed to dried on record towels in a well-aerated environment for 3-4 days and then ar them in an airtight sealed container in the frozen fridge until all set to plant them.

Pruning

In the at an early stage spring, if girlfriend have developed plants, it’s great to pinch earlier their growth when lock reach around 12″ tall to encourage lateral spreading. Every you have to do is tenderness pinch off the top collection of leaves from every stem. The plant will naturally spread wider before flowering.

If you’d prefer to encourage a much longer floral display, stagger the end that early on pinching over a couple of weeks. Do about a 3rd of your plants the very first week, another third the second, and also finally the remainder top top the third week. Be certain to spread out the procedure over your whole garden so the you have even bloom distribution later.

If you have actually a big area of punishment balm plants, you have the right to opt to just prune the entire patch at when with a pair that hand clippers or shears. Once it reaches the 12″ height, you deserve to just same trim it to about half its height, which urges lateral growth as well as much more leaf mass. Doing this have to discourage her plants native going lanky or weedy in appearance.

As your flowers start to fade, you must deadhead bee balm just above the following flower bud come encourage additional flowering. When a stem has finished flowering, trim it ago down to the floor or pinch that off. This will encourage the tree to send up one more blossoming stem.

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In the autumn or winter, you must prune punishment balm after that has passed away back. Take it ago down to just above the soil’s surface. This enables you come clean up the dead tree material, and perennial varieties will start to present signs of new growth in the so late winter or early spring again.