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As you'd guess from the name, bees love bee balm (Monarda didyma). These helpful garden visitors transfer pollen as they zip around the tube-shaped flowers, which are held in loose, daisy-like clusters. Bee balm plants were once used by Native Americans as a medicinal herb and early colonists who turned it into tea — and turned up those noses at the highly taxed British stuff. Monarda is a lovely, useful perennial plant for gardens or containers.Monardas spice up the summer garden with their fragrant foliage and shaggy flowers. Sixteen species of this tough perennial are native to North America, but most of us grow red Monarda didyma (commonly called bee balm) or lavender to pinkish Monarda fistulosa (also known as wild bergamot). Shown here: 'Pardon My Cerise.
To start bee balm seeds indoors, sow them in a tray of moistened seed starting mix, barely covering them, eight to 10 weeks before your last spring frost. Seal the tray in a clear plastic bag. Keep it in indirect light in a spot that stays between 60 and 70 degrees. Remove the plastic when the seeds sprout and move the tray to a bright window. When the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, thin the young bee balm plants to every 2 inches. Transplant them outside once there's no more danger of frost. native plant to North American, bee balm is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the mint family. Though unlike some mint plants, it’s quite manageable. Bee balm plants have sturdy, square stems and ovate leaves that are delightfully aromatic, especially when crushed. The plants have a mounding habit and, depending on the cultivar, can grow up to 4 ft. tall. Some new varieties, though, are more compact and only grow up to 12 inches tall.
A low-maintenance perennial, bee balm has a long blooming period, giving your garden up to 8 weeks of colour in the summer and early fall. The bee balm plant is treasured for attracting beneficial bees as well as other pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds who come to feast on its nectar. Colorful flowers, fragrance that floats on the summer air and butterflies fluttering about all make your garden come alive—and delight your senses.Bee balm plants are hardy in zones 4 to 9, and can be grown in many areas of the United States. The fast-growing, perennial plants return and multiply every year. While bee balm plants can tolerate most types of soil, as long as it’s well-drained, they don’t like standing in water. Also, the plants are susceptible to powdery mildew, so make sure they have lots of air circulation and aren’t overcrowded. (Source: www.brecks.com)