Beebalm is sometimes more commonly known as Bergamot – the name originates in the apparent attraction its fragrance has for bees. Bee balm was extensively used for tea in North America, and is still used in the composition of the famous Earl Grey tea.
This plant has exquisitely beautiful flowers and is exceedingly popular with gardeners – the flowers range in colour from white to red to a lovely purple and have a lovely fragrance, making them a truly attractive addition to any garden.
This is one spectacular flower for shade albeit preferring light shade. Not only is it beautiful with a wonderful fragrance, it has uses beyond the garden for making tea and can also be used as an ingredient in salad.
Beebalm is perennial, loves some sunlight, is characterized by rapid growth, and is known for its ability to spread. It flowers through the middle of the summer up to the beginning of fall, with white, pink, red or purple blooms. Generally speaking, the red and purple or violet shades of flowers are far more common than the more occasional white and pink varieties.
These plants grow to about four feet tall and spread out to approximately three feet.
As mentioned earlier it has a considerable attraction for bees, but also for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Beebalm is propagated by dividing the roots, and this is something that is best done in spring, or failing that, in fall or autumn.
It is necessary to propagate these plants every three years or so as the centres have a tendency to die.
If you find the center of the plant dying off, you can dig up any dead parts that you can locate. Then use compost to fertilize the soil in those areas.
This process enables the shoots of the plants to re-colonize the richer soil, thus rejuvenating the plant.
The procedure called ‘dead heading’ is also something that should be done as this encourages the plants to flower again.
“Propagate by division in Spring or Fall every 3 to 4 years. Dead heading is also recommended to encourage a second blooming. A humus rich moist soil is what is needed to get the most out of this flower.”
Despite all its good and interesting qualities, and despite the color, fragrance and interesting insect and bird visitors that it attracts to a garden, you will find that Beebalm can be rather a possessive colonial, always looking to conquer new territories and with a tendency to replace companion plants.
You have to limit its spread in spring, using a sharp shovel to cut it back to within the areas you have designated for it. You can give away the cuttings to neighbors or friends, so that they can enjoy this undoubtedly attractive plant in their gardens.
Any soil that you attempt to grow this plant in is best if it is rich enough in humus and relatively moist.
The correct soil makes all the difference when you want to get the best out of a flowering plant.
Mulching is something that is sure to benefit the plant, keep it healthy, as well as retaining coolness in the soil.
Mulch also tends to keep moisture in and generally speaking, using it will improve the blooms, both in terms of color and how long the flowers last.
Some of the new hybrids of Beebalm are resistant to mildew and disease strains and are particularly interesting. These include; ‘Dark Ponticum’, with lovely purple flowers, ‘Gardenview Scarlet’, which as its name suggests has beautiful scarlet blooms, and ‘Jacob Cline’ Beebalm, a variety with big red blossoms.