When Does Bee Balm Bloom – Bees & Beekeeping Information

when does bee balm bloom

Bee balm is a very useful perennial plant, meaning it grows back year after year. It is native to North America and thrives in woodland areas. However, it can also grow very well in meadows, flower beds or pots. Its leaves are delicious in salads and teas, can be used to make a bath bomb and is host to a multitude of medicinal qualities. With all these positive attributes, you may be wondering when does bee balm bloom? Before we get into that, let's dive a little deeper into the history of bee balm and why you may want it in your garden.

What is Bee Balm?

Bee balm is a common name for Monarda, a popular, perennial plant native to the eastern United States. These colorful plants grow to be two to four feet tall although there are dwarf varieties that reach only ten inches or less. Be cautious if you purchase a white, purple or pink flower as you may find it to be red next year. It has a tendency to revert back to its natural color after time.

Bee balm has long been used for medicinal purposes by Native American tribes, the Shakers, the American Eclectic physicians, and herbalists. Other names for this plant include Oswego and wild bergamot. English settlers chose to make their tea out of this plant after they lost access to English teas following the Boston Tea Party.

Bee balm is commonly planted in bee and butterfly gardens to attract bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinating insects. It is also used to attract predatory insects to prey on the insects that eat the plants in your garden.

Although it tolerates drought, try your best to water it and feed it fertilizer once a week or every other week during the blooming season which is at its peak during the summer.

Why is Bee Balm Significant?

Bee balm is good for both plants and animals including humans. Let's discuss.

Bee balm is good for plants. It attracts natural pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other insects. In addition, it attracts predatory insects that eat herbivorous insects. This means, not only will your plants propagate but you will no longer have insects and parasites eating the plants that you have managed to grow already.

bloomed bee balm

As mentioned previously, bee balm is used by many segments of the population for medicinal purposes. But what do these include? And how do you get these healing properties?

  • Bee balm acts as a natural mosquito repellant if you rub it on your skin. Be careful to test a small patch of skin, however. Some individuals find it makes them very sensitive to the sun. While the scent itself repels mosquitos, it works best if the leaves are crushed to release the aromatics.
  • Make bee balm iced tea for nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and a host of other gastrointestinal issues. As a member of the mint family, it can be ingested safely. Avoid if you are pregnant and be wary if you have thyroid issues.
  • Bee balm is visually stunning. Put the leaves in a salad or use the petals to decorate a cake.
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    Make a tonic using one cup of bee balm leaves and flowers and one and a half liters of water, and boiling them for ten minutes. Once cool, you can use it as a spritz or splash on itchy, dry or sunburned skin or you can add it to your bath.
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    Soak a cloth in bee balm tea to make a compress. It has fungicidal, antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
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    Put fresh tea leaves in a cheesecloth or linen and tie into a bag. Keep under hot water as you are drawing your bath for effective aromatherapy. This will help relieve your cold symptoms, sore throat, fever and congestion.

But when does bee balm bloom?

When Does Bee Balm Bloom?

Now that you know the significance of bee balm, you may be wondering, when does bee balm bloom? If you are looking to plant bee balm seeds, do so in the spring two weeks before the last frost. If you have already missed your chance, plant the seeds in late summer two months before the first frost. It takes a week to 10 days usually for your flowers to appear.

a bee approaching a flower

Other Common Questions

How Far Apart Should I Plant my Seeds?

Now that you know the answer to the question "when does bee balm bloom," you might be thinking about growing it. When planing bee balm, plant the seeds one foot apart. These plants do not grow well when overcrowded and since they get to be up to four feet tall, it is important to give the plants coming up space to breathe. You may want to plant them 18 to 24 inches apart if you are planting them in a field or meadow where you have more space.

You may not need as much space for dwarf varieties of this flower that grow less than ten inches tall. These are better for planting in containers or in the front of your flower border so you can appreciate all of your other flowers.

Plant your seeds in moist, well-fertilized soil with a pH balance of between 6.0 to 6.7. While they grow better in moist environments, be sure the soil is sufficiently drained in the winter.

What Climate Can I Grow Bee Balm In?

Bee balm is very forgiving when it comes to the climate it can survive in. Although it thrives in moist, rich soil in a sunny location, it is hardy and will still grow in the shade, particularly in areas with hot summers. Being a member of the mint family, these plants are so hardy; you may have trouble keeping them from overtaking your garden.

Once the Flower Blooms, How Can I Care for It?

Keep the soil moist. When watering the plant, water only the soil. Do not water the leaves. Work a good, multi-purpose fertilizer into the soil around the plant.

If you want a bushier plant, cut the stem tips as they grow in during the spring. In the late fall, cut the plant down to only a few inches tall. Depending on how cold the winter is, they may die all the way to the ground. However, they will reappear during the next spring.

This plant is highly susceptible to powdery mildew. You will be able to recognize it as a gray, powdery substance on the leaves and buds in cool, moist weather, like in the Pacific Northwest. To treat this, spray fungicide from your local garden center. Always water from the ground and not overhead. You can also prevent powdery mildew by ensuring proper spacing of the plant (seeds about one foot apart), which allows for satisfactory air circulation.

a bloomed bee balm - when does bee balm bloom

What Else Should I Know?

As an extremely hardy member of the mint family, you may have issues with this plant beginning to overtake your garden. However, if you are trying to propagate it without buying more seeds, pick flowers frequently. This will strongly encourage growth. Furthermore, removing spent flowers, or deadheading, will help promote a new flush of blooming buds.

If you buy flowers of a certain color, be aware that these plants typically revert back to their natural color, so next year you may have a different color flower in its place.

Conclusion - When Does Bee Balm Bloom?

You now know the answer to the question "when does bee balm bloom." It also has various uses. Bee balm is a tall, visually stunning, perennial plant that is a must in many types of gardens. Some gardeners may want it to attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to pollinate the rest of their flowers. Other gardeners may want it to block off sections of different flowers.

You may want it to attract carnivorous insects to eat herbivorous insects feeding on your plants or repel mosquitos. Native Americans, homeopathic physicians, and others have been using this plant to treat a whole host of ailments including menstrual cramps, fungal infection, nausea, heartburn and indigestion. Its antibacterial properties also help you prevent getting sick or getting even sicker if you did happen to catch something.

Whatever your reason for planting bee balm in your garden, even if it is just for its beauty, be sure to take good care of these plants. They are very resilient and will grow in suboptimum conditions, but you may need to look out for powdery mildew and treat it. You can help avoid this by watering the plant from the ground rather than overhead and watering the leaves.

Look out for a gray powder and remove any infected parts of the plant. They will grow back, but this will prevent the rest of the plant from getting sick and possibly dying. Mildew can also be prevented by planting your seeds far enough apart, about one foot of separation, for the height of your plant. You can also spray fungicide from your local gardening store.

Whether you are planting seeds or whole plants you bought already grown from the store, do it in the spring or summer. If you do it when it is too cold, the plants will either not grow or die.


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