Bee Balm Plants
Growing Bee Balm Plants is an easy task & is also extremely rewarding. Monarda plants are technically categorized as herbs, though they have been used in flower gardens for years. You might occasionally see Bee Balm plants growing in zoo’s, theme parks or other public attractions, due to their beautiful, large flowers which will attract an array of beneficial insects to the garden. Many landscapers use these versatile plants due to the fact that they are easy to maintain and don’t require much attention once established. Their leaves are often times crushed for their essential oils.
This article will provide you with the growing information required to successfully germinate your Monarda / Bee Balm seeds. We will cover topics including, site specifications, such as sunlight, soil and moisture requirements, as well as germination & growth habits. You will learn when, where and how to plant your Bee Balm plants from seeds.
A Little Bit About Bee Balm Plants
There are many types of Bee Balm / Monarda plants. Four of which we offer here at Seed Needs. These varieties include, Lemon Mint, Wild Bergamot, Spotted Bee Balm / Horsemint, as well as Monarda didyma, or “Panorama Shades.” Bee Balm plants will produce gorgeous flowers, which typically open up to 2 or 3 inches wide. They come in in many colors, such as red, pink, lilac, white, purple & mauve. Monarda plants will grow anywhere between 10 inches and 48 inches tall. Refer to your seed packet to be sure of the height that your plants will grow.
Bee Balm plants are popularly chosen for use in many butterfly gardens & beneficial insect gardens as well. They will attract an array of insects, such as butterflies, bumblebees, honeybees, hummingbirds & even ladybugs. The majority of Bee Balm plants are in fact perennials, which means that the plants will establish a deep root system the initial year of growth. This root system allows them to regrow each Spring season, even after all plant life has wilted on the surface. Some varieties are categorized as annuals, such as Lemon Mint. This means that the flowers will grow quickly from seeds, bloom profusely through the summer months, and will later die with the first killing frost. The plants can be regrown the following year, if you collect fresh seeds that fall from the dried flower heads.
Bee Balm Plants are used by many home gardeners, since the plants will form erect stems, which will make them perfect for cutting. They can be enjoyed in many floral arrangements & bouquets as well. Both the flowers and leaves are edible. The flowers are often times used in green salads, fruit salads, cakes or preserves, while the leaves are crushed to be used as a mint substitute, or dried to be used in tea. Bee Balm flowers are also dried to be used in potpourri mixtures and small sachets as well.
In The Northern states of America, Bee Balm plants will thrive in an area of full sunlight for the majority of the day. In warmer regions to the south, the plants can tolerate a bit of light shade, which will help prolong healthy blooms. Temperatures should be kept higher than 70F, for optimal germination. Bee Balm plants will also prefer a sowing medium that is fertile & rich in organic matter. Just be sure that the soil is also well drained. Adding a light compost to areas that contain hard, compact soil will increase your drainage. This will prevent the soil from becoming soggy & the roots from becoming waterlogged.
We suggest that you test your soils pH level to achieve best results. The average pH level should be between 6.0 and 6.7 for Bee Balm plants. The plants can be watered lightly each day, especially when the leaves look a bit dry. If possible, use a soaker setting on the garden hose to directly water the roots.
How To Plant Bee Balm Seeds
Bee Balm plants can be established from sowing indoors, or directly outdoors.
Sowing Indoors: To begin, you should purchase a rich & fertile potting mix, as well as starter pots prior to planting. We recommend peat pots, since they will prevent root shock when transplanting later on. Sow 4 to 5 seeds per pot, 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost. The seeds will require direct lighting to germinate properly, so we suggest not burying your Bee Balm seeds with topsoil. Water the seeds daily by misting them with a spray bottle. Because temperatures should be above 70F as mentioned above, you might consider moving the pots on top of the fridge at night to keep them nice and warm. Another neat trick to retain moisture, is to cover the pots with cling wrap as well.
Transplant your Bee Balm plants into the garden when the weather is warm and all danger of frost has passed. If you used peat pots as we had recommended, you can transplant the entire pots into the earth, since peat pots are made from organic peat moss. the pots will eventually break down in time and the roots will shoot right through them.
Direct Sowing Outdoors: If sowing your Bee Balm seeds directly outdoors, we recommend that you prepare your sowing area by removing all unwanted weeds & other plant life. Turn the earth, or replace it with a fresh new soil, which should be filled with organic matter. Sow your seeds directly to the surface of the soil, not covering the seeds with any topsoil. Because sowing Bee Balm seeds directly outdoors is a bit more risky, you may consider sowing on a day that is calm & free of high winds. Sow 4 to 5 seeds to establish 1 complete plant. Once your Bee Balm plants get taller, you might want to add a 2 inch layer of mulch around the base of each plant. This will suppress the growth of weeds and other unwanted plant life from returning to the area. Renew this mulch every Spring season.
Check Germination & Growth below for additional spacing and growth habits.
Germination & Growth Habits
Bee Balm seeds are known to germinate in roughly 14 to 28 days after sowing. Most plants typically reach a mature height of anywhere between 2 to 4 feet tall, however some selections will only grow to 1 or 2 feet tall. Refer to your seed packet for the exact height, for each of the varieties you are trying to grow. The plants will also grow to a width of roughly 1 to 2 feet wide and can be spaced anywhere between 12 and 18 inches apart from one another. Though Bee Balm plants are technically in the mint family, they do not grow as an invasive species like spearmint or peppermint.
Often times, many gardeners will experience mildew problems with their Bee Balm plants. There are a few ways to prevent mildew, one of which is to water the plants directly at the roots, versus watering the entire plant and wetting it’s leaves. A soak setting on the garden hose is the best way to achieve direct watering. You will avoid disrupting smaller plants this way as well. You might also consider spraying a fungicide on the plants as well, or using a mixture of milk and water.
If powdery mildew has already consumed most of the plant life you can definitely cut back the plants, disposing the infected plant life in a garbage can that’s away from your growing area. Dispose of all infected leaves and other foliage that drops to the ground beneath as well. Cutting back thick foliage to allow better airflow between your Bee Balm plants is another way to prevent powdery mildew.