Is Bee Balm Invasive: Tips On Controlling Monarda Plants

Monarda Plants
bee balm control
(Image credit: summersetretrievers)

Bee balm, also known as monarda, Oswego tea, horsemint, and bergamont, is a member of the mint family that produces vibrant, wide summer flowers in white, pink, red, and purple. It is prized for its color and its tendency to attract bees and butterflies. It can spread quickly, though, and requires a bit of care to keep it under control. Keep reading to learn more about how to manage bee balm plants.

Bee Balm Control

Bee balm propagates by rhizomes, or runners, that spread under the ground to produce new shoots. As these shoots multiply, the mother plant in the center will eventually die off over the course of a couple years. This means your bee balm will eventually be far from where you planted it. So, if you are asking the question, “is bee balm invasive,” the answer would be yes, under suitable conditions. Luckily, bee balm is very forgiving. Bee balm control can be achieved effectively by dividing bee balm. This can be achieved by digging between the mother plant and its new shoots, severing the roots connecting them. Pull up the new shoots and decide if you want to throw them away or begin a new patch of bee balm elsewhere.

How to Manage Bee Balm Plants

Dividing bee balm should be done in early spring, when the new shoots first emerge. You should have a sense by their numbers whether you want to cut some back or not. If you do want to propagate some shoots and plant them elsewhere, sever them from the mother plant and dig a clump of them up with a shovel. Using a sharp knife, divide the clump into sections of two or three shoots with a good root system. Plant these sections wherever you like and water regularly for a few weeks. Bee balm is very tenacious, and ought to take hold. If you do not want to plant new bee balm, simply discard the dug up shoots and allow the mother plant to continue growing. So now that you know more about controlling monarda plants, there’s no need to worry about them becoming out of hand in your garden.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.