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Pollinator Flower for Bees: Bee Balm and Its Many Uses

Maren gardens in PA, specializing in earth-friendly, unconventional, creative, joyful artistry. She works for eco & climate health.

Glorious Bee Balm Flowers

Monarda flowers come in several shades of red and also violet.

Monarda flowers come in several shades of red and also violet.

Easy to grow bee balm.

Easy to grow bee balm.

Perennial, Easy To Grow, And Earth Friendly

Monarda, commonly known as bee balm, is a joy to grow for three reasons.

First, it is a perennial, which means you plant it once and let it return and propagate as it will.

Second, it is not a fussy flower - it tolerates partial sun and dry-ish soil. And, if you deadhead spent blossoms, you'll have the bonus of another set of blooms.

Third, it provides nectar for bees (earning its name: Bee Balm) and other pollinators. We need these pollinators in our farming and food production.

I find the plant to be dramatic and gorgeous. And, I love that I am helping Mother Gaia at the same time that I enjoy the aesthetics and human uses of the Monarda plant.

Deadhead Fading Flowers For A Second Blooming

Snip off blooms when they fade.

Snip off blooms when they fade.

By cutting off the old flower heads, you encourage the plant to sprout more blossoms.

By cutting off the old flower heads, you encourage the plant to sprout more blossoms.

Bee Balm's Bergamot Scent in Earl Grey Tea

As you brush the leaves on the bee balm plant, it releases the Bergamot oil fragrance. This is the same fragrance in Earl Grey tea. It smells heavenly.

Bee Balm Is Edible

When it comes to ingesting plants not normally found in the grocery store or farmers' market, I am a chicken. Or, shall we say prudently cautious?

In any case, I have eaten the leaves and flowers of fresh monarda as salad ingredients and lived to report it.

The photo below also includes smaller, darker leaves of spearmint from my garden and baby spinach leaves. The very large leaves and red blossoms are from bee balm. Supposedly everything above the ground on bee balm is edible for humans, but I am not interested in trying the stem.

Bee Balm Has Edible Leaves And Flowers

Bee balm leaves and flower petals in a salad with spinach and mint leaves.

Bee balm leaves and flower petals in a salad with spinach and mint leaves.

Drying For Tea Or Sachets

The uses of bee balm abound.

Dried, crushed leaves are part of the notable Earl Grey tea. Alternatively, history texts indicate that native Americans and colonists used these leaves alone for tea. Among the Amish of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it is still prepared as a tea.

The dried leaves can also be used in a pot pourri or in sachets. Additionally, some herbalists claim that dried bee balm has medicinal properties.

Drying Bee Balm

Hang Bee Balm drying in an upside down position so that the essential oils flow to the leaves.

Hang Bee Balm drying in an upside down position so that the essential oils flow to the leaves.

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Environmentally Correct: Helping Pollinators

Bee Balm provides nectar for bees and butterflies, so it makes the "A" list for including in pollinator friendly gardens.

If you have a square foot or so of garden sunny space which cries out for sprucing, I suggest you try bee balm. After the initial investment (very reasonable) and planting, it's a breeze!

Monarda Also Known As Bee Balm

A blossom peeks out from the foliage.

A blossom peeks out from the foliage.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Jill Spencer from United States on December 06, 2017:

Maybe it was all the freezing and thawing that we had last year. The white bee balm was protected from that a bit. I'm glad yours is still going strong. It's such a beneficial, beautiful plant.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on December 05, 2017:

Hi Jill, Thank goodness no problems with my bee balm. I have moved it from berks, to Lebanon (very poor soil) and then to Lancaster counties in southeastern PA and it had flourished. In Lancaster, it is absolutely going bonkers-happy. I hope your experience was atypical and isolated.

Jill Spencer from United States on December 04, 2017:

Hi Maren, I love bee balm, too. Our shade-loving bee balm is still going strong, but the Jacob Kline, which looks like what you have, died out in our yard and at a community garden where I volunteer. Have you had this problem?

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on July 06, 2011:

Esmeowl12, lucky you, having bee balm as a pleasant surprise!

Cindy A Johnson from Sevierville, TN on July 06, 2011:

I have no recollection of it but I must have planted bee balm seeds last year because I now have beautiful blooms right by my front porch. I have noticed that when I brush by the leaves, they smell wonderful. Thanks for the additional info. Voted up and useful.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on July 05, 2011:

Thanks. This is the first year I have used it in salads. This is a money saver, too. You use less greens from the store because you are adding greens from your garden.

MyMastiffPuppies on July 05, 2011:

Beautiful hub, I love my Bee Balm. I had not seen it in the red, I will have to add that to my garden. Mine is violet and it is so easy to care for. Great info, voted up, useful, awesome and beautiful...

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