Bee balm, also known as Monarda didyma L., is a lovely and hardy perennial that grows to a height of about 2 feet in the right conditions. The blossoms can be pink, lilac, burgundy or bright red, and shades in between. Bee balm has a bushy growth habit and can become invasive if not pruned to keep it within the boundaries that you choose. Bee balm attracts bees and butterflies, but repels moths when dried and stored with blankets or clothing.
Assess your bee balm size in the fall. If it was just the right size this year, it’s going to be too big next year, so you will want to trim it back. After the plant has died back in late fall, cut off all of the branches and drive a shovel down through the root to take off about 1/3 of it. Immediately plant this root section in another location. It will come back in the spring after its dormant period.
Trim and shape bee balm during growing season if necessary. Discovering that your bee balm is just plain too large in the middle of the flowering season isn’t that much of a problem; simply pull away the stalks from the root and separate as much of the plant as needed. You can also use small gardening scissors or nips to cut them off and, if desired, you can shape the plant to better fit the landscape you’ve created.
Divide bee balm in the spring by driving your shovel down through the root ball, cutting off 1/3 to ½ of the root and planting it elsewhere.
To dry bee balm, simply cut off the stalk near the bottom, tie several together and hang upside down in a dry area. Plant like colors together for better appeal. A large bunch of pink bee balm will stand out, whereas a few pink mixed in with all other colors won’t make much of a statement.
Bee balm attracts bees! Be cautious when handling bee balm plants or working near them.