Mr. D's Plant of the Week Series: Bee Balm

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The Bee Balm is a fun and beautiful, summer ground cover plant that accents most small to medium sized Tallahassee gardens. As a dense herbaceous perennial, it will grow to a height of 12- to 36-inches tall. Its spread will range from 2- to 4-feet across, and before we forget, expect fast growth along with fragrant, attractive pink summer flowers.

The Monarda punctata, (the Bee Balm’s scientific name; pronounced: moe-NAR-duh punk-TAY-tuh), from the family of Labiatae, is a native perennial to eastern Canada, eastern United States, northeastern Mexico, and all of Florida.

Other names it is commonly known by are Horsemint and Monarda named after the physician and botanist, Nicholas Monardes. An interesting homeopathic fact, the Bee Balm has also been used to create herbal “sweating” tea to treat the common cold.

How to care and manage the Bee Balm perennial

In your garden, the Horsemint needs to grow in full sunlight. It must get planted on well-drained sandy soil that can absorb and hold minimal moisture. Should the soil drain excessively or too quickly during our Tallahassee and Leon County droughts, you will need to provide occasional irrigation.

However, the Monarda will tolerant some drought, but you will need to monitor this perennial to prevent drowning the roots from overwatering or drainage issues.

As for our cold snaps and winter season freezing temperatures we experience in North Florida, the Bee Balm though beautiful is not affected. As a matter of fact, you can cultivate this plant year-round in our region.

As for invasiveness or pest resistance, it is not an invasive type herbaceous, but it will grow in colonies. Its long-term health is not affected by pests or diseases.

Furthermore, its pink or lavender sweet-smelling blooming bracts attract bumblebees, honeybees, miner bees, butterflies, and the occasional hummingbirds.

Mr. D’s Bee Balm plant and pruning tips

As mentioned above, the Bee Balm perennial does grow in colonies due to its denseness and seasonal reseeding. Knowing its growth pattern ahead of time, you can plan out your plant spacing when breeding or growing this herbaceous. As a rule of thumb, your plant spacing should be 24- to 36-inches apart.

When it’s time for pruning you’re going to pinch the plant back in the late summer, usually after it has flowered. That process stimulates new flower growth, and the plant gets bushier. By pinching back regularly, the dense foliage stays manageable.

The other area to focus on is deadheading the flowers. Horsemint starts blooming in the early summer. It will continue to flower as late as early fall. When the blooms begin to fade, then it is time to snip off the flowers before they form their seed heads, preventing your garden from unexpected reseeding.

Let’s also not forget mildew development on your foliage. When you see the infection on the plant cut it back to its base immediately. That’s the area not affected by the disease. Also, never use or place infected or mildewed clippings in your compost pile.

If you found the Bee Balm interesting, then check out our Variegated Caribbean Agave material and let us know your thoughts!