With tubular petals that come in shades of pink, red, purple, and white, bee balm is a real beauty. Bee balm is a flowering plant native to North America.
It is also called Monarda didyma scientifically or wild bergamot or Oswego tea. It is an ornamental plant with an attractive foliage scent.
It is an excellent addition to a pollinating garden. This is because its bright flowers and scent attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. It is an aggressive plant that is not invasive.
There is a need for cutting the plant back to encourage the production of new flowers.
When To Prune Young Bee Balm
The cutting back can help prevent the infestation of mildew. There are different stages in the growth of the bee balm when the pruning activity is needed. It is required for a young bee balm to allow for a better spread in development.
To encourage a fair and bulky spread of the bee balm plant, pinching back can be used. Side growth is achieved more when the plant is cut back at an early stage.
The plant grows to an average height of 3 feet and about 2 feet in width. To allow for more stems developing on the sides, it is best to pinch it back when it is about a foot tall.
You can cut the plant back to 5-6 inches from a foot tall. This allows for more spread of new stems towards the side. There is invariably more space around the plant’s center, leading to sufficient ventilation around the plant.
The increased ventilation prevents mildew, which is common to bee balms. The plant is maintained at a desired size and height with this pruning practice. Also, a more even spread of stems and foliage is achieved with the side growths.
Cut Back During And After Flowering
The bee balm produces flowers as earlier as summer starts and can last till the start of the fall. There is a need to deadhead the flowers as they age and fade. You should cut off the blossoms as they fade to allow for fresh flower production.
Since it is still in its flowering season, it will produce new flowers when the old ones are removed. This is also good to prevent seed production that may lead to reseeding and congestion of the flower bed.
After the plant has finished flowering, cut back the plant. The cut back may be necessary because of mildew infestation, which is common after flowering. Cut back the infected leaves to leave the plant base.
New and fresh foliage will come forth from the base left behind. A more luxuriant bee balm will emerge after this cutback. The plant is kept fresh and alive.
Cut Back In The Fall
The third pruning of the bee balm plant is done towards the end of the fall. When it is late fall, in preparation for winter, you should cut back your bee balm. This is also to keep the plant from mildew growth as the winter begins.
It also helps to keep the plant fresh and luxuriant. Before winter starts, cut back the bee balms to about 1.5 inches in height.
This removes the old stem and foliage, allowing for new ones to grow. It is like a plant renewal system that keeps the foliage and stems renewed as the season change.
This cut back also causes increased blooming when the time comes. The aesthetics the plant offers are maintained and even improved upon.
Divide The Bee Balm
When the bee balm tree has grown for about two years or more, it is good to divide the plant. This can be done every two or three years. This is for keeping the plant vibrant and maintain its vigor. This is done in early springs. Dig up the plants, then cut them into divisions.
Each division should contain a bunch of healthy roots and two or three shoots. These divisions are then replanted with the usual spacing of about 20 inches. The planting should be done in full sunshine and well moist soil.
The divisions can be first planted in pots and transplanted in the field later as new leaves develop.
The dividing and replanting control mildew growth. The old leaves and stems are completely removed.
Care For The Beauty
Bee balm offers beautiful flowers and lovely scented foliage; it is also a good attractor of pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and birds love to greet the sight of the plant.
To keep these advantages, it is necessary to take good care of the plant. One good way to care for it is pruning and cutting back.
Bear in mind that the pruning process starts as soon as the plant begins to blossom. Cut off the fading flowers to give way for new and brighter ones.
After the flowering, cut back the plant to about 2 inches above the ground. This cut back to about 2 inches above the ground is also done late fall in preparation for winter. It is also necessary to divide the plant and replant after two years of growth.
All these are to keep the flowers fresh and blooming. Also, to ensure the stems are well and alive all season round. It is also a means of keeping mildews out. It is ultimately for the health of the bee balm plant and a tidy flower bed.
There Is More
Asides from these pruning processes, you also need to take off your bee balm in other ways. The plant requires a large amount of sunshine, so you must be careful with the location.
The sunny condition, apart from being suitable for the growth, help in stopping mildew growth. Moist, well-drained soil is also needed. This is why watering is vital for the bee balm plant.
To ensure the soil is kept moist, a 2-inch layer of mulch should be around each of the plants.