Old time perennials, such as BeeBalm (Monarda) continue to be a favourite in many local landscapes.
BeeBalm can be found growing in various types of landscapes because of its versatility. It can be grown in flowerbeds, herb gardens, butterfly gardens, near or in vegetable garden or in close proximity to fruit trees and small fruits. This hardy North American native perennial seems to have it all as this easy to grow perennial has attractive, fragrant flowers and foliage which has many uses.
Beebalm prefers to be grown in moist well drained soil. It will tolerate some drought but does better when it receives enough moisture. Plant it in a sunny to partial shade location where it will receive good air circulation as it can be bothered by powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus that looks like a grey/white powder on the surface of the foliage, stems and flowers. If it becomes a problem, remove the infected foliage and in extreme cases when the entire plant is infected, the plan can be cut back to ground level as i will grow back again. It can also be treated with a garden sulphur.
BeeBalm is a member of the mint family and spreads by underground rhizomes which can become invasive, so give it some space. Lawn edging can be used to keep it contained to an area, or putting the beebalm in a container with the bottom cut out and planting it in the garden that way.
Every 2-3 years, when the centre dies out the plan can be dug up and divided in either the spring or fall. Re-plant only the healthy outer edges and toss out the older dead centre.
There are several varieties. Some, grow tall, great for the back of flowerbeds, some are short, ideal for borders. To create bushier plants, pinch out the grow tips in the spring. Plants should not become too bushy as you want to keep the air circulating. when in bloom, remove the finished flowers which will promote more flowers and a longer bloom period.
BeeBalm has a lemon/orange citrus scent that becomes even more fragrant when the plant is touched. The flowers grow on sturdy square stems and are attractive and fragrant in fresh floral bouquets. The flowers can also be used as a fresh garnish. Dried flowers are often used in potpourris or sachets because of its ability to retain fragrance. BeeBalm oils are sometimes used in the making of perfumes and lotions. Back in the time of the Boston Tea party, the people of Oswego used the leaves to make tea., It also has medicinal uses as the leaves were pounded and made into a poultice to help relieve bee stings which be helpful as BeBalm attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. If you want to attract bees to the vegetable garden or orchard, to help with pollination, plant some nearby. BeeBalm is coming into bloom now and is one of those perennials that tick all the boxes.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road,
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road