Tips and Techniques for Successfully Planting, Growing, and Maintaining Monarda (Bee Balm)


Bee balm, also known as Monarda, is a popular flowering plant that is native to North America. It is a member of the mint family and is known for its aromatic leaves and vibrant blooms. Bee balm is a versatile plant that can be grown in a variety of climates and conditions, and it is a favorite among gardeners for its ability to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. If you want to add some beauty and wildlife to your garden, bee balm is a great choice.

When it comes to growing bee balm, there are a few key factors to consider. Bee balm is a sun-loving plant that thrives in afternoon shade, so make sure to plant it in an area of your garden that receives plenty of sunlight. The plant is also quite vigorous and can spread quickly, so be sure to give it enough space to grow. Bee balm is typically hardy in USDA zones 4-9, but there are different species and cultivars that can grow in other zones as well.

Bee balm is relatively easy to grow and care for. It prefers well-drained soil, so make sure to plant it in soil that has been thoroughly prepared and amend it with compost if needed. Water the plant regularly, especially during dry spells, and make sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. One of the most important steps in caring for bee balm is deadheading the flowers. Removing the spent blooms will encourage the plant to keep flowering and prevent it from spreading too much.

Bee balm is prone to powdery mildew, so make sure to choose mildew-resistant cultivars or take steps to prevent the disease. Planting the bee balm in an area with good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and regularly applying a fungicidal spray can help prevent mildew. If you do notice mildew on your bee balm, make sure to remove and dispose of the affected leaves to prevent further spread.

Bee balm can be propagated by division or by sowing seeds. Dividing the plant in early spring or early fall is the easiest way to propagate bee balm. Simply dig up the plant and carefully separate the root ball into multiple sections, making sure each section has some leaves and roots. Replant the divisions in your garden or in pots filled with potting soil, making sure to water them thoroughly. If you prefer to start bee balm from seeds, sow them in a seed tray or directly in the garden in early spring or fall.

In conclusion, bee balm is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add color and wildlife to your garden. By following these simple steps, you can successfully grow and care for bee balm in your own garden. Whether you’re looking to attract pollinators, fill out your flower beds, or simply enjoy the beauty and fragrance of bee balm, this plant is a great choice.

How to Grow and Care for Bee Balm

Growing and caring for bee balm (Monarda) is relatively easy, making it a popular choice for gardeners. This plant, also known as bergamot or horsemint, attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with its colorful and fragrant blooms. To ensure a healthy and vibrant bee balm display, here are some tips:

  1. Choose the right location: Bee balm is best grown in full sun or partial shade. It prefers moist, well-draining soil but can tolerate slightly drier conditions once established.
  2. Planting: Bee balm can be grown from seeds or transplants. If starting from seeds, it is recommended to start them indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. Transplants can be planted directly into the garden in spring or fall. Space the plants about 18 to 24 inches apart.
  3. Watering: Bee balm prefers consistently moist soil, so regular watering is important, especially during dry periods. However, make sure not to overwater, as waterlogged soil can lead to root rot.
  4. Deadheading: Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, helps to prolong the blooming period and prevent self-seeding. It also encourages the growth of new flowers.
  5. Overwintering: Depending on the cultivar, bee balm can be either a perennial or an annual. Hardy varieties like Monarda fistulosa can survive cold winters, while others may need protection or be treated as annuals. Mulching around the base of the plant can help protect it from winter frost.
  6. Disease resistance: Bee balm is susceptible to fungal diseases, including powdery mildew. To prevent this, choose mildew-resistant cultivars and provide good air circulation by spacing the plants adequately. Removing and disposing of above-ground debris in the fall also helps to reduce the risk of disease.
  7. Dividing and propagating: Bee balm can be divided every few years to control its size and promote healthy growth. It can also be propagated through stem cuttings or by layering.

With its tubular flowers and attractive foliage, bee balm is a great addition to any garden. Whether you’re looking to attract pollinators or simply enjoy its vibrant blooms, following these guidelines will help ensure the success of your bee balm plants.

Bee Balm Care

Caring for bee balm plants (Monarda) is relatively easy. These vibrant flowers from the Lamiaceae (mint) family are a great addition to any garden, attracting bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies with their tubular blooms. Here are some tips to help you care for your bee balm plants:

  • Planting: Bee balm can be planted in both sunny and partially shady areas, although they tend to bloom most profusely in full sun. Make sure to choose a proper location with well-draining soil, and the plants will thrive.
  • Watering: While bee balm plants are relatively drought-tolerant, they prefer consistent moisture. Water them regularly, especially during dry periods, and do not let the soil become dry.
  • Mulching: Mulch around bee balm plants to help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. This will also provide some insulation for the plant’s root system in colder regions.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilizing bee balm plants is not necessary unless your soil is very poor. A layer of compost or well-rotted manure in spring will usually provide sufficient nutrients.
  • Deadheading: To encourage continuous blooming, remove spent flowers by deadheading. This will prevent the plant from going to seed and also tidy up the plants.
  • Pests and Diseases: Bee balm plants may encounter some pest and disease problems, like powdery mildew or leaf spot, especially in humid conditions. Proper air circulation and avoiding overhead watering can help reduce these issues. Treating the plants with an appropriate fungicide may be necessary in severe cases.
  • Propagation: Bee balm can be propagated by seed or by taking stem cuttings. Taking cuttings is the quicker and more reliable way to propagate the plant, while sowing seeds requires more time and patience.
  • Uses: Aside from their beauty in the garden, bee balm plants have many uses. The leaves of the plant can be used in teas, as a seasoning, or to make a fragrant potpourri. The flowers also attract birds and butterflies and can be used in floral arrangements.

By following these care tips, your bee balm plants will thrive and reward you with a splash of vibrant color in your garden year after year.

If you’re a beginner gardener or have limited gardening experience, bee balm is a great choice. It’s an easy plant to grow and care for, and its numerous benefits make it a valuable addition to any garden. So why not give it a try and enjoy the beauty that bee balm brings?


In order for Bee Balm, or Monarda, to thrive and produce vibrant and beautiful flowers, it needs to be provided with the right amount of light.

Most Bee Balm varieties prefer full sun to partial shade, meaning they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. However, some varieties, such as Monarda punctata, can tolerate more shade and will still produce flowers in slightly lower light conditions.

If you are unsure whether your chosen variety of Bee Balm likes full sun or partial shade, it is always best to do some research or ask a knowledgeable gardener to find out. Finding out the required light conditions for your specific variety will help ensure the success of your garden.

When selecting a location for planting Bee Balm, it is important to choose a spot that receives sufficient sunlight or shade according to the needs of the variety you are growing. Avoid areas that are shaded by trees or buildings, as this can result in fewer blooms and less vibrant flowers.

If you are growing Bee Balm in a garden bed, it is recommended to plant it where it will be exposed to full sun or partial shade, depending on the variety. Providing the plant with the proper amount of light will help it to grow and thrive.

Keep in mind that light conditions can vary depending on the time of day and location. A spot that receives full sun in the morning may become shaded in the afternoon, so be sure to observe the sunlight patterns in your garden to ensure your Bee Balm is getting the right amount of light.

Regular observation of your Bee Balm plants can also help you determine whether they are receiving enough light. If the plants are thriving, producing numerous flowers, and attracting pollinators like hummingbirds and bees, then they are likely receiving sufficient light. However, if the plants are not blooming or appear weak and leggy, it may be an indication that they are not getting enough sunlight.

In conclusion, it is important to find the right balance of light for your Bee Balm plants. Most varieties prefer full sun to partial shade, but it is always best to research the specific needs of your chosen variety. By providing the correct light conditions, you can enjoy the beautiful blooms and vibrant colors of Bee Balm in your garden for many years to come.


Bee balm is an easy-to-grow perennial plant that thrives in a variety of soil types. However, it prefers a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH for bee balm is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

When choosing a location to plant bee balm, it is important to consider the soil conditions. Bee balm does best in soil with good drainage, as it does not like to sit in wet or waterlogged soil. If the soil in your garden is heavy clay or prone to poor drainage, you can improve it by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the planting area. This will help to loosen the soil and improve its drainage.

It is also essential to ensure that the soil is sufficiently moist but well-draining. Bee balm does not tolerate drought well and requires regular watering, particularly during dry spells or in hot weather. However, it is important not to overwater the plant, as this can lead to root rot and other fungal problems.

Bee balm also benefits from a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Mulch helps to conserve moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. A layer of 2-3 inches of organic mulch, such as wood chips or compost, should be applied around the plant, keeping it a few inches away from the stem to prevent crown rot.

In terms of fertilizing, established bee balm plants generally do not require much additional fertilization. However, if the plants appear weak or do not produce many blooms, a slow-release granular fertilizer can be applied in early spring. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate amount to use.

If you are growing bee balm in pots, it is important to provide well-draining soil. Use a potting mix that is designed for container gardening and has good drainage properties. Adding perlite or coarse sand to the potting mix can help improve drainage.

In conclusion, bee balm is a versatile plant that can adapt to a variety of soil types. However, it prefers a well-draining soil with sufficient moisture. By ensuring proper soil conditions and providing adequate care, bee balm will reward you with vibrant blooms and attract beneficial pollinators, especially hummingbirds, to your garden.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.