Bee Balms got their common names because of their attractiveness to bees. They might as easily have been called hummingbird flowers. Many of the most poplar cultivars are red, with a crown of tubular florets around the flowerhead, a combination hummingbirds cannot resist. And neither can gardeners because bee balms are a staple in just about every perennial garden.
Bee balm grows 2 to 4 feet tall. Like other mints, bee balm has tubular, two-lipped blooms. Whorled atop the stem, the flowers have a raggedly charm, like a red daisy trimmed with pinking shears. You can find natural white forms, and cultivars and hybrids extend bloom colors into pink, lavender and shades in between.
Bee balm grows naturally along moist stream banks, usually in dappled shade, so it demands rich, moist soil. It does best in zones 4 through 9. Flowering starts in mid-summer and continues for two months if you remove spent blooms.
Bee balm may self-seed and spreads by underground stems. Clumps die out in the center, so you need to divide it every couple of years.
- Other names: Bee balm, Horsemint, Oswego tea, and Bergamot
- Synonyms: Monarda
- Family: Lamiaceae
- Native to: North America
- Jeff Cox – Perennial All-Stars: The 150 Best Perennials for Great-Looking, Trouble-Free Gardens
- Karan Davis Cutler, Kathleen Fisher, Suzanne DeJohn, National Gardening Association – Herb Gardening For Dummies