Bee Balm

Bee balm flowers are brilliant additions to late-summer herb gardens and flower borders. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other nectar-seeking creatures covet the tubular flowers on the plant's rounded flower heads, and the leaves and flowers can also be made into tea. Other common names include horsemint, wild bergamot, and Oswego tea.

About This Plant

Bee balm flower colors include pink, red, and white; new double-flowered forms are also available. The plant blooms from early to late summer and grows 2 to 4 feet tall, depending on the variety. Some bee balm species tolerate wet soil and will thrive along a waterway or in a bog garden. Bee balm is susceptible to powdery mildew disease, so select resistant varieties. Under favorable growing conditions the plant can become invasive.

Special Features

Easy care/low maintenance
Multiplies readily
Attracts hummingbirds
Attracts butterflies
Tolerates wet soil

Site Selection

Select a site with full sun to light shade and rich, well-drained soil. Some species tolerate wet soils, while others are adaptable to a wide range of soil moisture levels.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart. Prepare garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant's container. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole so the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the rootball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

Care

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Remove spent flowers to keep plants looking tidy. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line. Divide plants in spring every few years or when you notice the center of the plant dying out.

Other Plant Care Guides in Perennials
Anemone
Aster
Astilbe
Baby's Breath
Baptisia
Bearded Iris
Bee Balm
Bellflower
Blanket Flower
Bleeding Heart
Canna
Catmint
Columbine
Coralbells
Coreopsis
Dead Nettle
Delphinium
Dianthus
Foxglove
Geranium
Hosta
Lamb's Ears
Oriental Poppy
Ornamental Grasses
Penstemon
Peony
Phlox
Rudbeckia
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Shasta Daisy
Veronica
Yarrow

« Return to the Plant Care Guides Home Page

Article published on June 23, 2008.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "Lilium 'Pink Perfection'"