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.