Bee balm plant is a North American native, thriving in woodland areas. Also known by its botanical name of Monarda, bee balm is very attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
The bee balm plant is susceptible to powdery mildew, appearing as a gray, powdery dust on the buds and leaves in moist, cool weather.
If your bee balm plant develops mildew, you can treat it with a fungicide spray from the local garden center.
Mildew may also be prevented by planting bee balm where it will have good air circulation, and avoiding watering from overhead.
Most varieties of the bee balm plant are between 2 1/2 feet to 4 feet tall, but there are also dwarf varieties less than 10 inches high.
Dwarf varieties are excellent for container gardens or up front in your flower border where you can appreciate the shaggy, tubular blooms of the bee balm flower.
In the species, purple-green rosette buds show color early in the spring and grow into large red tubular flowers in whorls at ends of the foliage.
Other varieties come in white and shades of pink, purple and blue. Bee balm is easy to grow. A great deal of crossing between the red and purple flowering species has resulted in named cultivars.
These are less inclined to develop mildewed foliage in areas of summer humidity.
Varieties such as ‘Jacob Cline’, ‘Raspberry Wine’ ‘Blue Stocking’ and ‘Marshal’s Delight’ are an improvement over the species.
Monarda is vulnerable to poorly drained soils and a saturated root zone. Avoid them if you are allergic to bees.
Their common name, bee balm, attests to their legendary ability to attract all sorts of bees from very small to large black bumbles.