Bee Balm Growing Guide
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Bee Balm Growing Guide

What is Bee Balm?

Bee balm is a native American plant not only known for its brightly-colored flowers and fragrant foliage. The flowers were used by North American Indians to make tea which were considered a useful treatment for colds, stomach aches, and insomnia. Bee balm produces slender, tubular flowers that bloom in June and July. Flower colors include white, pink, red, lavender, and purple. A perennial favorite native to North America, bee balm (aka wild bergamot) flowers in mid-to-late summer. This is attractive to pollinators like hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies! Bee balm earns its name not only because the bees adore it, but also because rubbing a bee balm leaf on a bee sting will immediately relieve the pain.

How to Start Growing Bee Balm

Direct sow in early spring after the last frost. Do not cover very small seeds, but tightly press into the earth. Keep in light shade to full sun. Bee balm can withstand a dry spell, but for best results, water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Bee balm performs best in full sun (at least 6 hours).

Did You Know?

Native Americans have long used the foliage of bee balm as an anti-septic in traditional medicines, as well as using the foliage as a light tea. In early Revolutionary days in America, the practice of using it as a tea was adopted by colonialists unable to buy black tea from England.

Our Favorite Bee Balm to Grow

Bee Balm Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Plant Spacing - 12 to 18 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Plant Spacing - 12 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Bee Balm Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Bee Balm

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 7.0
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Bee Balm Irrigation Requirements

Bee Balm plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

Bee Balm Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetles, Whiteflies, Moths, Armyworms

Monterey BT
Caterpillars, Cabbage Loppers

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Moths

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms, Ants, Slugs

Sluggo Plus
Slugs

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Complete Disease Control
Gray Mold, Leaf Spots, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Bee Balm

When & How To Harvest Bee Balm

Pick bee balm flowers in summer as they appear in full bloom. Pick them in mid-morning on a dry day, after the dew has evaporated. To dry, hang bundles of stems upside down, or lay leaves and flowers on a screen and place in a well ventilated dark area. Depending on humidity, it can take up to two weeks for the herb to dry completely. You can also use a dehydrator on the lowest setting, checking every half hour until fully dry. Remove when the leaves and flowers crumble easily between your fingers.

Storing & Keeping Bee Balm

Store in glass jars in a dark, cool pantry. Try not to crush the dried herb until you are ready to use. You can also store in a burlap or cloth bag.

Browse Our Bee Balm!

Bee Balm Growing Tips & Tricks

Mulching

Mulch is a great idea for bee balm as it is loves moist soil, is shallowly rooted, and tends to crowd itself out. A two-inch layer of organic material such as well-rotted manure, compost, or double-shred hardwood will preserve the moisture bee balm loves in order to stay beautiful.

Powdery Mildew

As you learned earlier, bee balm is susceptible to powdery mildew, but it is important to note that it is something bee balm can get VERY easily. To reduce likelihood, ensure your plants get enough sunlight and thin well in the warm months. You can also reduce watering, especially during times of high humidity, avoid overhead watering, and weed regularly to increase air circulation. If your plant does show signs of the disease, spray with Complete Disease Control as instructed, or cut back blooms about half its height and wait for reblooms. If mildew shows in the fall, remove infected growth as it could overwinter in cold conditions.

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