Bee balm, or monarda, belongs to the mint family. They produce colorful large flowers on long stems which grow from a bushy plant. Flower colors range from white to lavender and red. The aromatic foliage adds a mildly minty flavor to teas, while the scent of the plant and its flowers also attracts bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden bed. They require only minimal care to grow into healthy and attractive plants.
Plant bee balm in a bed that receives full sun all day or full morning sun and light afternoon shade. Choose a bed that drains well and isn’t prone to standing water.
Spread 2 inches of mulch around the base of the plants to help prevent weeds and to retain soil moisture. Use an organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark.
Water bee balms once weekly when less than an inch of rain has fallen in the preceding seven days. Irrigate at the base of the plant until the top 6 to 8 inches of soil feels moist.
Fertilize bee balms in spring when new growth begins. Sprinkle 2 tsp. of slow-release, 10-10-10 analysis fertilizer on the soil around each plant. Water after fertilizing to force the nutrients down into the soil and into the root zone of the bee balm.
Cut off the flower heads once the petals begin to wilt. Removing the flowers prevents seed formation and encourages the plant to produce more blooms.
Harvest foliage and flowers for tea throughout the gardening season. Remove healthy, fully mature leaves and use these fresh or dried.