Growing Bee Balm

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


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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.

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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.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By WARREN from Halifax, PA


July 26, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

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

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October 3, 2009

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


October 4, 20090 found this helpful

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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Photo Description
This variety of Monarda has the common name, 'Eastern Bee Balm'. Its typical range covers the central and southeastern U.S. I was fortunate to get these pictures in mid April as its usual bloom time is May. A perennial, it is hardy through zones 5-8. It reaches a height of about 2 ft. The blooms are said to be fragrant. Mine are not. However, the leaves when crushed do have a rather strong medicinal scent. Not unpleasant, though.


They will do well in full sun to part shade. Mine are grown in pots above ground. They are thriving and easily withstood a 3 degree night. They are hardy! As you might have guessed, my plants were around $10. I got them at a reduced price of $3.

I may not be fortunate about the bloom time, after all. This Monarda is well known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have not migrated to my area, just yet. I fear by the time they do get here, the blooms will be gone.

These plants are tough. They are not fussy about soil, they tolerate drought and require little care. Lowe's is sure to have them marked down later this year.

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Home and Garden Gardening PerennialsApril 29, 2013
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