Growing Bee Balm

red bee balm flower closeup

A wonderful flower for attracting hummingbirds to your garden. This guide is about growing bee balm.


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Article: Growing Bergamot (Bee Balm)

Bergamot (Bee Balm)

Botanical Name:

Monarda didyma

Common names:

Bergamot, Bee Balm, Oswego tea


Bergamot is grown for its decorative flowers and aromatic foliage. The plants consist of tubular, crown-like flowers on top of 3 to 4 foot stems with dark green aromatic leaves. Usually bright scarlet in color, the flowers bloom in mid to late summer and also come in salmon, pink, mauve, purple or white, which, along with most gardeners, bees and hummingbirds also find attractive.

Life Cycle:



full sun or partial shade


Bergamot like moist, fertile soil so work plenty of compost into the ground before planting each spring.


seeds or cuttings; divide clumps in autumn every two years; named cultivars must be propagated by cuttings or division.

Parts Used:

leaves; sweet orange-like fragrance

Harvesting and Storage:

cut fresh leaves for use as needed

Medicinal Uses:


Culinary Uses:

use leaves in salads, fruit salads, fruit drinks, teas (flowers), pork and other meat dishes.

Other Uses:

use flowers and leaves for wreaths, posies, aromatic bath water, cut flowers, perennial border and beds, potpourri, perfumes, scented oil and candles

Editor's Note: This is not the same bergamot as is used in Earl Grey Tea. That flavoring is derived from Bergamot oranges but the scent is very similar.

By Ellen Brown

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Article: Growing Bee Balm

two colors of bee balm

Botanical Name:

Mondarda didyma

Life Cycle:


Planting Time:



3' to 5'


full sun to light shade (hot climates)


nutrient rich, moist, well-drained soil


zones 4 to 8

Bloom Time:



variety of colors including maroon, pink, white, purple and scarlet




division in spring

Suggested Use:

beds, borders, and wildflower gardens

Growing Hints:

Purchase a young plant or sow seeds directly outdoors two weeks prior to the last spring frost date or in early fall at least two months before the first frost date. Sow seeds 1 inch apart at a depth of 1/8" to 1/16". Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last spring frost. Thin seedlings to 12" apart. Avoid powdery mildew by keeping good air circulation around plants.

Interesting Facts:

Bee Balm is a must have to attract hummingbirds. Its flower petals can be used to make tea as well as adding color and taste to green salads. Stem leaves can be made into a tincture and used as a bug repellant.

By Ellen Brown

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Here are questions related to Growing Bee Balm.

Question: Growing Bee Balm in a Pot

Can I grow Bee Balm in a pot for the first season?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By PUDBON from Halifax, PA

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Best Answer

By kathleen williams [76] 07/26/2009

I think you can. I grow everything in pots, good luck.

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Question: Growing Bee Balm from Seed

Are there seed pods on a bee balm plant and can I start a new plant from them? Thanks.

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By Warren from Halifax, PA

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Most Recent Answer

By kathleen williams [76] 10/04/2009

Yes, info below.

Flower Type: Perennial
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 3'
Exposure: Full Sun, Light Shade in hot climates

When to Sow Outside: Spring, two weeks before average last frost or late summer/early fall at least 2 months before first fall frost.
When to Sow Inside: 8 - 10 weeks before last frost.
Seed Depth: 1/8" to 1/16"
Seed Spacing: 1"
Days to Emerge: 5 - 10
Thinning: 12" apart, good luck.

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