Bee Balm is Blooming in Social Circle!
We’ve got a couple of stunners in bloom this week at the Pollinator Sanctuary at Friendship Park in Social Circle. Both are cultivars of bee balm (Monarda didyma).
Bee balm, a North American native, is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial in the mint family. Like mint, its leaves are delightfully aromatic but, unlike mint, bee balm is not overly aggressive. Bee balm is not fussy, growing best in rich humusy, moisture-retentive soils but can tolerate heavy clay and requires full to part sun. While not invasive, bee balm is a vigorous grower so clumps should be divided every few years to prevent overcrowding. When grown under ideal conditions, bee balm is trouble-free and tough as nails.
At the pollinator sanctuary ours are in full sun and standing up to this week’s brutal heat like champs! Powdery mildew can strike in wet, overcrowded gardens with poor air circulation and/or insufficient sunlight, but ours are doing fine right now.
The flowers, reminiscent of fireworks, are comprised of arching tubular petals in vibrant colors including red, fuchsia, and purple. A blooming powerhouse, bee balm produces an abundance of 2 to 3 inch blooms June through July much like the 4th of July finale. Deadheading will prolong the bloom period.
Throw out the welcome mat for pollinators! Bee balm provides a rich source of nectar for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Rabbits and deer, however, stroll on by in search of more palatable offerings! Many cultivars are commercially available, providing the perfect color and size for every garden from the petite ‘Balmy’ series measuring in at just 10 inches to ‘Jacob Cline’ that towers to 4 feet. Bee balm is most striking when planted in mass or as edging but also makes a striking accent plant. Bee balm is also great for cut flowers.
In our Pollinator Garden, we grow 2 varieties - ‘Jacob Cline’ is an attention grabber, producing screaming red flowers on tall stems. Due to its height and flower size Jacob Cline can get a bit floppy. To rectify, we cut back new growth by about 1/3 in early to mid-May.
The second cultivar is Marje Rose which produces vivid rose-pink blooms on compact, bushy plants reaching 18 inches tall. Both are stellar performers – great looks, delightful aroma, heat tolerant, all while supporting pollinators. What’s not to love?
Come visit the Friendship Park Pollinator Sanctuary to check out bee balm and all the other lovely pollinator friendly plants. Its easy to find – right across the street from Ace Hardware in downtown Social Circle.
Interested in creating a pollinator garden and need help getting started?
Just reach out to us at email@example.com