Propagating Bee Balm Plants: How To Propagate Bergamot Seeds, Cuttings And Divisions

By: Jackie Carroll

Propagating bee balm plants is a great way to keep them in the garden year after year or to share them with others. They can be propagated by division in spring or fall, by softwood cuttings in late spring, or seeds.

Bright flowers and a minty fragrance make bergamot (Monarda) plants ideal for perennial borders. Bergamot is known by several other names, including bee balm, monarda and Oswego tea. The shaggy-looking clusters of flowers begin blooming in midsummer and last for several weeks. These mopheaded flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, making the plant ideal for a wildlife garden. Even better is the fact that bergamot is appropriate for nearly all climate zones.

Propagating Bee Balm Plants through Division

Bergamot needs dividing every two or three years to keep the plants vigorous, and this is a great time to propagate the plants. Begin by loosening the soil around the roots and then sliding the shovel underneath the roots and prying upward.

Once the root ball is out of the soil, shake gently and brush off as much loose soil as possible so you can get to the roots. Cut through thick roots with pruning shears and separate the plant into at least two clumps by pulling apart the remaining roots with your hands. Make sure each plant section has plenty of roots with it.

When you are satisfied with your bee balm divisions, prune the tops to remove damaged stems and clip off any unhealthy, dark-colored or slimy bits of root. Replant the divisions right away to prevent the roots from drying out.

Bee Balm Cuttings

Take cuttings of new bee balm growth from the tips of the stems in late spring. Cut tips no more than 6 inches (15 cm.) in length just below a set of leaves. Remove the lower set of leaves and dip the cutting in rooting hormone.

Stick the cuttings 2 inches (5 cm.) deep into a small pot filled with perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, or a combination of these materials. Water well and place the cuttings in a plastic bag.

Once the bee balm cuttings root, remove the bag and repot the cuttings in potting soil. Place them in a sunny window and keep the soil lightly moist until you are ready to transplant outdoors.

Collecting Bee Balm Seeds

Bergamot grows readily from seeds. When collecting bergamot seed, time the collection to the maturity of the flowers. The bergamot seeds usually mature one to three weeks after the flowers bloom. You can test for maturity by bending the stem over a bag and tapping it. If brown seeds fall into the bag, they are mature enough and ready for harvesting.

After collecting bee balm seeds, spread them on paper to dry for two to three days and store the dried seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Planting Bergamot Seeds

You can plant bergamot seeds outdoors in early spring while the soil is cool and there is still a chance of a light frost. Cover the seeds with a light dusting of soil. When the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, thin them to 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm.) apart. If you prefer to start the plants indoors, start them eight to 10 weeks before you plan to transplant them outside.

When propagating bee balm plants from seeds, first make sure the parent plant isn’t a hybrid. Hybrids don’t breed true and you may get unexpected results.

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How to Grow Wild Bergamot

By Erin Marissa Russell

Looking forward to growing wild bergamot in the garden this year? Look no further than this comprehensive guide to growing wild bergamot for everything you’ll need to know to plant and care for your wild bergamot, from choosing the perfect location and time for planting to keeping your plants healthy and nurturing them as they grow.

About Wild Bergamot

Just to clear up any confusion, be aware that the wild bergamot plant may also be referred to as bee balm, horsemint, honey plant, Oswego tea, or simply bergamot. Its official names are Monarda fistulosa, Monarda pringlei, and Monarda didyma. There are varieties specifically cultivated for resistance to powdery mildew, called Marshall’s Delight, Jacob Cline, and Raspberry Wine. All these terms are used interchangeably by nurseries and gardeners.

Wild bergamot is native to the eastern part of the United States. The perennial plants can achieve heights of two to four feet and are known for being easy to propagate, whether they’re grown from seeds, cuttings, or root division. The stems are square in shape, producing gray-green foliage and showy flowers that blossom from June to September. The Monarda fistulosa variety blooms in lavender, and Monarda didyma has scarlet-hued flowers. Marshall’s Delight produces vibrant pink blossoms, while Jacob Cline and Raspberry Wine both bloom in deep red.

Historically, bergamot has been put to use in almost countless ways. The Tewa tribe valued wild bergamot because they enjoyed its flavor when cooked alongside meat, while Iroquois preferred using bergamot in beverages. People of many Native American tribes would use bergamot leaves to relieve headaches, chewing leaves into a paste and inserting the chewed plant material into a nostril or using the dried plants to soothe the sneezes that come along with a cold.

As a cold remedy, wild bergamot was also administered as an addition to a hot bath, inhaled in a sweat bath, or applied directly to affected areas in a poultice. Some groups also used bergamot to alleviate headaches, assuage stomach pain, cool a fever, or subdue acne and other skin conditions.

There are plenty of excellent reasons that this plant has such a history of being cultivated by gardeners throughout the ages. Other than the obvious beauty of the plant, there are plenty of other incentives for making wild bergamot part of the garden,

Growing wild bergamot makes your garden appealing to pollinators.

Every garden needs pollinators, especially if you’re growing fruit or vegetables. Wild bergamot is a natural way to attract pollinators to the garden. They don’t call the wild bergamot plant bee balm for no reason!

Wild bergamot repels mosquitoes.

This benefit is surprising because people (and bees) are so fond of the smell of bergamot, but the plant has the opposite effect on mosquitoes. One of the many perks of growing bee balm in your garden is that it has the ability to repel mosquitoes as it grows, making your time working in the garden or enjoying your yard more enjoyable. The plant’s distinctive scent isn’t just repellent to mosquitoes it also discourages deer from taking a nibble. v

Wild bergamot flowers aren’t just pretty—they’re edible.

The delicate lavender flowers of the wild bergamot plant are good for more than just beautifying the garden. These flowers are edible, which means there are lots of ways you can use them. Aside from the teas, tinctures, and oils we’ll talk more about later, you can simply add the minty-flavored flowers to salads, use them to top a cake, or just add them to a plate as part of an edible garnish for a fancy meal.

Your wild bergamot harvest can be used to make a tasty tea.

Oswego tea made from wild bergamot flowers and leaves was the favorite choice of Americans who turned to native plants to make their tea after losing access to British teas as a result of the Boston Tea Party. Bergamot is also responsible for the lemon-like citrus scent and taste that’s a classic component of the beloved tea blend known as Earl Grey, making it a no-brainer element to include in a tea garden.

Growing Conditions for Wild Bergamot

Wild bergamot is so easy to grow because it’s a member of the mint family, which is notorious for being so prolific it’s almost a pest if not controlled by the gardener. This bountiful productivity is because the bergamot plant spreads through rhizomes, horizontally oriented stems that grow underground, developing shoots and roots along the way.

Wild bergamot is infamous for thriving in all kinds of soil, whether it’s an ideal mix or leans toward sand, clay, or loam. Areas that are drier than usual or stay a little wet are also acceptable planting locations for wild bergamot.

How to Plant Wild Bergamot

Feel free to plant your wild bergamot either in the spring or the fall. Although this hardy plant can grow in areas that are less than ideal, it prefers full sun and rich, well-draining soil. Wild bergamot does require a spot with plenty of air circulation to prevent powdery mildew.

Space plants between 18 and 24 inches apart. After planting, water thoroughly, whether you’re starting with seeds, divided rhizomes, or cuttings.

Care of Wild Bergamot

Once wild bergamot is planted, water regularly to keep the soil it grows in evenly moist. To help soil retain water and prevent the infiltration of weeds, you can mulch around wild bergamot plants.

Deadhead spent flowers from your wild bergamot plants. Removing the blossoms once they’re expended doesn’t just keep plants looking attractive—it helps keep the entire plant healthy because resources are no longer wasted on parts whose time has come to an end.

When you notice that leaves near the bottom of the plant are going yellow, cutting the stems down to three or four inches from the ground can actually get you a second blooming period. You should also do this pruning after the first frost in the fall.

How to Propagate Wild Bergamot

Divide wild bergamot plants every three years in springtime as the center begins to die out, after which the removed edges can be split up and replanted. Even if you’re pleased with the amount and placement of bee balm in your garden, go ahead and divide it. Propagation helps maintain healthy air circulation around the plant and keeps your wild bergamot healthy and thriving.

Garden Pests and Diseases of Wild Bergamot

You shouldn’t struggle much against infestation or illness with your wild bergamot plants since they are so hardy. However, there is one exception: a fungal disease called powdery mildew. Although this fungus is normally a surface-level issue that won’t threaten the life of the plant unless it continues for years, powdery mildew can cause premature leaf drop. (And who wants to see the distinctive gray-green foliage and delicate blooms of wild bergamot defiled with unsightly fungus?)

Plants will display this disease as powdery white splotches on the surface of the leaves. Gardeners can prevent the problem in the first place by selecting a location for their plants that offers plenty of air circulation. Also avoid overhead watering and be sure to thin the stems of plants regularly.

Whenever plants are deadheaded or pruned, be sure to remove trimmed plant matter and debris from the area and dispose of it properly. Times of high humidity can cause an uptick in powdery mildew. If you suspect this is the cause in your garden, reduce watering until things even out.

Should powdery mildew still strike your garden, there are things you can do to stop it in its tracks. Strike back with fungicide, such as ones utilizing neem oil, sulfur, or potassium bicarbonate. As a last resort, you can simply remove and destroy all affected plants to prevent further spread of the disease.

Videos About Growing Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa & M. didyma) how to identify it and its medicinal uses:



Jerry Newman says

Are there any special preparations for winter? Should mulch be applied over the pant?

Julie says

The bergamot in Earl Grey tea is not from Monarda. It is flavored with the oil of the fruit of Citrus bergamia, the bergamot orange.

After They Germinate

Remove the bag as soon as the seeds begin to germinate. Place the tray of seedlings in a bright, preferably south-facing, window and keep the soil moist. Bee balm seedlings grow slowly and should remain in the flat for six to seven weeks before transplanting them into individual pots, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Thin the seedlings to 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart by clipping out the unwanted seedlings at soil level with scissors. Feed with half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer every other week once the seedlings have four true leaves.


To propagate by seed, cut off ripe seed heads and air dry them on a clean dry surface indoors for several days. Place the seed heads in a paper bag and shake to release the seeds. Sow seeds during January in flats or in zippered plastic bags with a soil mix of one-third sand and two-thirds commercial plug mix, placed in a cool location. The seeds should germinate in one to two weeks. Seedlings will need a starter fertilizer solution for up to seven weeks, at which time you can transplant them into 3-inch pots. Water and fertilize the seedlings regularly, then plant in the garden when the roots fill the container.

To propagate using cuttings, insert stem tip cuttings into a sand and perlite rooting medium and mist the stems several times a day. They should root quickly enough to transplant within five weeks.

How do You Take Care of Bee Balm?

Bee balm will succumb to root rot in cold, wet soil during the winter months. It’s a good idea to add a couple of inches of mulch to the bed during the fall months.

In humid conditions, bee balm plants can suffer from powdery mildew. Although powdery mildew is not usually fatal to the flower, it is undesirable. Provide good air circulation and water the plants at ground level whenever possible.

Once you have established a bed of bee balm, sit back and enjoy. Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies pollinate them while you delight in the pleasant fragrance.

Does Bee Balm Attract Bees?

Honey bees take a significant role in the pollination of plant species all around the world. In fact, the British Bee Keepers Association estimated that honey bees contribute 165 million pounds every year to the UK economy.

Your gardening can be improved if you select bee balm for inclusion in your local landscape. It will aid in our efforts to save bees, if we all add more flowering plants when we can.

Which Pests do Monardas Attract?

Unfortunately, bees, birds, and butterflies aren’t the only creatures bee balms attract. There’s a number of pests you need to look out for, including:

Spider mites: They suck out a garden bee balm’s fluids through its foliage. This eventually leads to the loss of leaves.

If you notice them, applying insecticide soap should help protect your flowers.

Aphids: Not only do they suck on the leaves, but they also emit honeydew onto them. When the flower’s foliage is covered in honeydew, it can result in molding.

To deal with these insects, you can plant herbs such as basil. These plants attract aphids’ predators such as ladybugs.

Stalk borers: These pests are also known as stem borers. Their larvae dwell and nourish themselves on the plant’s tissue. You’ll know they’ve infested your flowers if you observe tiny cracks and yellow fragments. You’ll also find caterpillars in the fresh flower stems.

Weeding on a regular basis minimizes the chances of a stalk borer invasion.

Should Bee Balm be Deadheaded?

At the end of each flowering season you should remove (deadhead) the flowers, just above and close to the next flower bud. Also, once the entire stem has completed flowering you ought to cut it right back to the ground with small, sharp secateurs.

This will encourage further growth in the years ahead and you’ll have a lovely collection once again.

Bee balm

#1 PsyBearknot

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  • #2 Myc

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  • I went and did some reading.

    Collecting Bee Balm Seeds

    Bergamot grows readily from seeds. When collecting bergamot seed, time the collection to the maturity of the flowers. The bergamot seeds usually mature one to three weeks after the flowers bloom. You can test for maturity by bending the stem over a bag and tapping it. If brown seeds fall into the bag, they are mature enough and ready for harvesting. After collecting bee balm seeds, spread them on paper to dry for two to three days and store the dried seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

    Read more at Gardening Know How: Propagating Bee Balm Plants: How To Propagate Bergamot Seeds, Cuttings And Divisions http://www.gardening. balm-plants.htm

    Edited by Myc, 04 August 2016 - 07:41 AM.

    #3 PsyBearknot

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  • I'm guessing that these are your flowers - possibly at your living location.

    It also looks like there is the remnant of a flower petal in your photo. Perhaps give them a little more time - up to 3 weeks after flowering according to the article.

    Keep at it and lemme know what happens.

    Second thought - do you have a microscope or a hand-loupe?

    #5 Il19z8rn4li1

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  • Ive found that some plants really pose a problem when collecting seeds, the problem..

    they seeds get eaten SOOO FAST.

    Its like.. teh MOMENT the seeds are RIPE and MATURE, buds know it and they go to TOWN.

    This is currently happening with my Siberian Kale plant. its LOADED with pods, im talking thousands.

    but god damn if the beetles dont stop entering the pods and eating all the seeds, ima goign to have NONE.

    so. been reading and doing my usual sprays.

    The tulsi basil and spanish tyme have seemed to help a lot.

    Its just a lot of spraying because when I spray. it fucking rains RIGHT AFTER.

    but if i wait on spraying after teh rain.. it wont rains ofr fucking weeks. but if i spray.. BOOM rain somes to rinse it off..

    Im getting fucked with by HARRP lol lol lol

    #6 Myc

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  • Sounds like you've got yourself some sure-fire irrigation spray.

    If it works that good, I'll hit you up to send me some.

    As for the seed, I hadn't considered the bug angle. I have to watch the coneflowers to make sure and grab a couple of flowers before the birds find 'em.

    #7 Il19z8rn4li1

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  • Sounds like you've got yourself some sure-fire irrigation spray.

    If it works that good, I'll hit you up to send me some.

    As for the seed, I hadn't considered the bug angle. I have to watch the coneflowers to make sure and grab a couple of flowers before the birds find 'em.

    dont even get me fucking started on the birds.

    Ive been gardening for god damn almost 10 years now, "medium-large scale", NEVER HAD BIRD ISSUES.

    But now. mother fuckers ate all my strawberries and NOW they are starting to fuck with my cherry tomatoes.

    God damn greenhouses need to be finished already lol

    #8 PsyBearknot

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  • I ordered it along with my blueberries . Honeyberries and Aronia berries plants

    #9 Il19z8rn4li1

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  • I ordered it along with my blueberries . Honeyberries and Aronia berries plants

    I used to use that stuff. but now my strawberry patch is roughly. 50x25ft. and well.. all that netting

    gets to become a PITA real quick, especially if you get a raccoon or opossum stuck in it. that rips and tires it around

    the entire garden because it was struggling with the netting all night long.. only to find seriously wrapped up coon lol.

    little bastards man.. I tell ya, you can sit back and try to THINK OF EVERYTHING about pesky animals.. but ill tell ya..

    with my LITTLE EXPERIENCE. ive seen some funny damn shit happen haha but what a MESSS things become.

    (im moving my strawberries into the gutter setup inside a CAGED area using chicken wire, it will be able to support snow loads,

    but also have small enough holes to keep the bastard robins out)

    and my tomatoes. ya, no way id be able to net all them.

    Ive gotten to the point where, when allowed, animals will reap MASSIVE yields from your crops resulting in HUGE

    lose of profit for you and your efficiency plummets!!

    The apple orchard near me, finally installed deer fencing to protect the orchard. HOLY SHIT are those

    trees LOADED, easily 2x the amount of fruit.

    The gardner told me that he had to increase feeding teh trees because of how much more fruit they have.

    The reward was WELL WORTH the overhead on the proper fencing.

    But that netting WORKS AMAZING for just a few plants.

    (ive tried it with blueberries.. teh deer RAVAGED the netting and ate the entire blueberry plants out of

    #10 PsyBearknot

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  • Makes the city cats if have to battle seem. fun!

    I forget how large scale you are on so that makes sense.

    I can only imagine the damage the coon did. My dog decided to play hop scotch across my squash and peppers chasing off a cat. Watched the whole thing go down. Lol

    #11 Juthro

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    Just be glad you don't have any hungry swamp donkeys hanging around your garden :)

    #12 Il19z8rn4li1

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  • Im not "large" scale. excuse me.. Id say more accurate. medium scale :)

    Def not small. 2 acres of gardens isnt small. but def not even medium though in the scope of things :P

    I got a lot of expanding to do lol.

    #13 PsyBearknot

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  • #14 Juthro

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    I am definitely small scale here :)

    I've got less the a half an acre of garden, I would guess closer to 1/4 acre. More victory garden'ish then anything else. But I love the fruits of my labor, and as this is only supplementing the diet of two people, it goes a long ways.

    I PC'd myself 10 half pints of green beans out of the garden today (they all sealed, YEE-HA!). I figure 2 1/2, or 3 more harvests this size are left in the plants. We are pretty far north to be growing them, and they are pretty hit or miss (more often miss) around here, depending on the year.

    I think climate change may be tossing us a bone on this one. Did I mention I've got corn producing ears in a low tunnel this year. That is historically not common at 60*33' North.

    Ow the times, they are a changing.

    #15 Alder Logs

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    Birds have become a huge issue here where they never used to. They take all the chestnuts and walnuts, and they get a large share of the blueberries. I don't know what changed. The Stellar Jays are the worst for the nuts. The berries go to the cedar waxwings and some others. Squirrels take the hazelnuts. Raccoons take apples, pears, and strawberries, not to mention chickens.

    Watch the video: Lets Plant Bee Balm Seeds!

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