Bee Balm

  • Plant Type: Perennial in zones 4 to 9
  • Sun: Part shade
  • Plant Size: 3 to 4 feet tall, 18 to 36 inches wide
  • Culinary Use: Leaves and flowers for tea, salads, and garnish

A garden that seems alive, buzzing with activity, likely includes Bee Balm, which does double duty as an edible and a magnet for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Add this American native to your garden to help make sure that melons, squash, cucumber and other summer crops get visited by bees for pollination. Use the whorled flowers in shades of lavender, red, or pink to decorate salads. Also called Bergamot or Oswego tea, the aroma and flavor of Bee Balm leaves resemble both citrus and mint They are popular for tea.

Plant Spacing: 18-24 inches. Plants Per Person: 2 or 3.

Secrets to Success »

Give plants enough space to promote air circulation and prevent mildew. Keep soil constantly moist and water at roots, not from overhead. Remove spent flowers for fuller plants and for blooms that will last 2 months or more.

Harvest and Use »

Pick leaves and flowers. Pour boiling water over leaves and/or flowers for tea. The edible flowers make a nice garnish on desserts, fruit salads, or punch bowls. They are also nice in flower arrangements. Use Bee Balm leaves like you would use mint to flavor fresh fruit, such as berries or melon slices. The dried leaves and flowers are great for sachets and potpourri.

Try these garden companions »

  • Squash, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, melon, okra, strawberry, eggplant, beans—all depend on bees for pollination.
  • Strawberries and melons.
  • Mint and Lemon Balm. You can use both with Bee Balm in teas.

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