how to grow bee balm from seed

How to Grow Bee Balm from Seed: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Bee balm, also known as monarda or wild bergamot, is a perennial flowering herb that belongs to the mint family. It is a wonderful plant for any garden, as it attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with its colorful and fragrant blooms. Bee balm also has medicinal and culinary uses, as it can help treat infections, soothe sore throats, and flavor teas and salads.

If you want to grow bee balm in your garden, one of the easiest and most rewarding ways is to grow it from seed. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to grow bee balm from seed, from harvesting to sowing to caring for your plants. You will also discover the different varieties and colors of bee balm that you can choose from.

Here are the main steps involved in growing bee balm from seed:

Step
1. Harvest bee balm seeds from mature plants in late summer or early fall
2. Sow bee balm seeds indoors in winter or outdoors in spring
3. Transplant bee balm seedlings into their final location after the last frost
4. Care for bee balm plants by watering, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, and overwintering them
5. Propagate bee balm by division, cuttings, or layering if you want more plants

Are you ready to grow your own bee balm from seed? Let’s get started!

How to Harvest Bee Balm Seeds

photo of bee balm seed heads drying on the stem

The first step in growing bee balm from seed is to harvest the seeds from mature plants. You can do this in late summer or early fall, when the flowers have faded and the seed heads have turned brown and dry.

To harvest bee balm seeds, follow these steps:

  • Cut off the seed heads with scissors or pruners and place them in a paper bag or a bowl
  • Shake or rub the seed heads gently to release the seeds
  • Separate the seeds from the chaff (the dry husks and debris) by blowing or sieving them
  • Store the seeds in a cool, dry, and dark place until you are ready to sow them

Bee balm seeds are small and black, and look like tiny peppercorns. They can remain viable for up to two years if stored properly. You can also buy bee balm seeds online or from a local nursery if you don’t have any plants to harvest from.

How to Sow Bee Balm Seeds

how to grow bee balm from seed

The next step in growing bee balm from seed is to sow the seeds indoors or outdoors. You can sow bee balm seeds indoors in winter, about 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date in your area. This will give you a head start and allow you to enjoy the flowers earlier in summer. You can also sow bee balm seeds outdoors in spring, after the danger of frost has passed. This will give you more natural results and less work.

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To sow bee balm seeds indoors, follow these steps:

  • Fill a seed tray or small pots with moist potting soil
  • Sprinkle the seeds thinly over the soil surface and press them lightly into the soil
  • Cover the tray or pots with plastic wrap or a dome lid to create a humid environment
  • Place the tray or pots in a warm (about 70°F) and bright location, such as a windowsill or under grow lights
  • Keep the soil moist but not soggy by misting it regularly
  • Remove the plastic wrap or lid when the seeds germinate, which should take about 10 to 14 days
  • Thin out the seedlings by removing the weakest ones when they have two sets of true leaves
  • Harden off the seedlings by exposing them gradually to outdoor conditions for a week before transplanting them

To sow bee balm seeds outdoors, follow these steps:

  • Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil
  • Loosen the soil with a fork or a tiller and mix in some compost or organic matter
  • Rake the soil smooth and make shallow furrows about 1/4 inch deep and 12 inches apart
  • Scatter the seeds along the furrows and cover them lightly with soil
  • Water the soil gently and keep it moist until the seeds germinate
  • Thin out the seedlings by removing the weakest ones when they have two sets of true leaves

How to Transplant Bee Balm Seedlings

bee balm seedling being transplanted into a garden bed

The third step in growing bee balm from seed is to transplant the seedlings into their final location. You can do this after the last frost date in your area, when the soil is warm and workable.

Bee balm plants prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil. They can tolerate some shade, but they will produce fewer and smaller flowers. They can also tolerate some moisture, but they will be more prone to fungal diseases.

To transplant bee balm seedlings, follow these steps:

  • Dig a hole for each seedling that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball
  • Gently remove the seedling from its container and loosen the roots
  • Place the seedling in the hole and fill it with soil, making sure that the crown (the base of the stem) is level with the soil surface
  • Press the soil firmly around the seedling and water it well
  • Space the seedlings about 12 to 18 inches apart, depending on the variety and size of your plants
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How to Care for Bee Balm Plants

how to grow bee balm from seed

The fourth step in growing bee balm from seed is to care for your plants throughout the growing season. Bee balm plants are easy to grow and maintain, but they do need some attention to thrive and bloom.

Here are some tips on how to care for bee balm plants:

  • Water your bee balm plants regularly, especially during hot and dry periods. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and avoid wetting the foliage to prevent fungal diseases
  • Fertilize your bee balm plants once or twice a year, preferably in spring and midsummer. Use a balanced organic fertilizer or compost tea, and follow the label instructions
  • Mulch your bee balm plants with organic material, such as straw, grass clippings, or shredded leaves. This will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil fertility
  • Prune your bee balm plants to keep them healthy and tidy. Remove any dead or diseased stems and leaves, and cut back any leggy or floppy growth. You can also deadhead (remove spent flowers) to encourage more blooming and prevent self-seeding
  • Overwinter your bee balm plants by cutting them back to about 6 inches above the ground after the first frost. Cover them with a thick layer of mulch to protect them from cold and frost. Remove the mulch in spring when new growth appears

How to Propagate Bee Balm by Division, Cuttings, or Layering

bee balm plants being divided using a spade

The fifth step in growing bee balm from seed is to propagate your plants by division, cuttings, or layering if you want more plants. Bee balm plants are easy to propagate and share with your friends and family.

Here are some methods of propagating bee balm:

  • Division: This is the simplest and most common method of propagating bee balm. You can divide your bee balm plants every 2 to 3 years in spring or fall, when they are dormant or less active. To divide your bee balm plants, dig up a clump of roots and stems and split it into smaller sections with a sharp knife or spade. Make sure each section has at least one healthy stem and several roots. Replant the sections in a new location or pot them up for later use
  • Cuttings: This is another easy method of propagating bee balm. You can take cuttings from your bee balm plants in spring or summer, when they are actively growing. To take cuttings from your bee balm plants, cut off a 4 to 6 inch stem tip with a pair of scissors or pruners. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone (optional). Insert the cutting into a pot filled with moist potting soil or sand. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a plastic bag to create a humid environment. Place the pot in a bright but indirect light location, such as a windowsill or under grow lights. Keep the soil moist but not soggy by misting it regularly. The cutting should root in about 4 to 6 weeks
  • Layering: This is another method of propagating bee balm that involves bending a stem of a parent plant to the ground and covering it with soil to encourage rooting and form a new plant. You can do this in spring or summer, when your bee balm plants are actively growing. To layer your bee balm plants, choose a healthy and flexible stem that is close to the ground. Make a small cut or wound on the stem where you want it to root. Bend the stem to the ground and cover it with soil, leaving the tip exposed. Secure the stem with a U-shaped wire or a stone. Water the soil well and keep it moist until roots form, which should take about 4 to 6 weeks. Cut the stem from the parent plant and transplant the new plant to a new location or pot it up for later use
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Bee Balm Varieties and Colors

different bee balm varieties side by side for comparison

The last step in growing bee balm from seed is to enjoy the different varieties and colors of bee balm that you can grow. Bee balm comes in a range of colors, from white to pink to red to purple. Each color has its own charm and appeal, and you can mix and match them to create a stunning display in your garden.

Here are some of the most popular varieties and colors of bee balm:

VarietyColorHeightBloom TimeFragranceHardiness
Jacob ClineRed3 to 4 feetMid to late summerMintyZones 4 to 9
Raspberry WinePink3 to 4 feetMid to late summerMintyZones 4 to 9
Blue StockingPurple2 to 3 feetMid to late summerMintyZones 4 to 9
Petite DelightPink1 to 2 feetMid to late summerMintyZones 4 to 9
Snow WhiteWhite2 to 3 feetMid to late summerMintyZones 4 to 9

You can choose the best variety and color for your garden style and goals, depending on the height, bloom time, fragrance, and hardiness of each bee balm. You can also experiment with different combinations and contrasts to create a unique and eye-catching effect.

Conclusion

garden bed showing a group of bee balm plants in bloom

Growing bee balm from seed is a fun and rewarding way to add beauty and diversity to your garden. Bee balm is a versatile and easy-to-grow plant that attracts pollinators, adds color, and has medicinal and culinary uses. You can grow bee balm from seed by following these simple steps:

  • Harvest bee balm seeds from mature plants in late summer or early fall
  • Sow bee balm seeds indoors in winter or outdoors in spring
  • Transplant bee balm seedlings into their final location after the last frost
  • Care for bee balm plants by watering, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, and overwintering them
  • Propagate bee balm by division, cuttings, or layering if you want more plants
  • Enjoy the different varieties and colors of bee balm that you can grow

Now that you know how to grow bee balm from seed, why not give it a try? You will be amazed by the results and the benefits of this wonderful plant. Share your experience with us in the comments below or ask us any questions you have. We would love to hear from you! 

About The Author

Samantha
Samantha

I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started growit.wiki to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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