Plant of the Week: Bee Balm (Monarda)

Bee balm is a perennial flower that blooms in the summer. You can expect to see colors of pink, purple, red or white. 

The Native American flower can be planted in the spring or the fall, but keep in mind that it requires at least six hours in full sun for proper growth. Partial shade may result in powdery mildew, a fungal disease that appears as dusty, white, circular spots on the foliage.

How to grow bee balm

  • Space 18-24 inches apart
  • Water thoroughly upon planting, and then every seven to 10 days during dry spells
  • Amend soil with compost and add mulch if necessary (mulch preserves moisture and controls weeds)
  • Avoid over fertilization, as it can contribute to powdery mildew

Companion plants and pollinators

Bee balm attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Plants that grow well alongside bee balm include deciduous shrubs, early to late-season perennials, and warm-season annuals.

  • Cosmos
  • Verbena
  • Nasturtium 
  • Petunias
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers

Fast facts

  • Bee balm gets its name for its soothing treatment of bee stings. 
  • Native American tribes used the leaves and flowers in a variety of salves and drinks to ease sore throats, upset stomachs, fever, cough, congestion, and even venomous bites.
  • Bee balm is a member of the mint family.
  • Bee balm is said to symbolize good health, and protection against evil and illness.

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