Bee Balm is a hardy perennial herb that grows to about four to six feet tall. It prefers a warm climate with well drained soil. It can also be found in deciduous woods and landscaped gardens. Some varieties are left unattended in the garden and others are trained into flower beds and potted in the garden. They make an excellent addition to culinary herbs such as Rosemary, chives and thyme.
Table of Contents
The History of Bee Balm
Bee balm, known as Oswego tea and bee balm honey, is a quintessential American herb. Its history, however, is somewhat intertwined with European settlers and Native Americans, and throughout the centuries it has been used both as a medicinal and culinary herb.
In fact, its uses today can be traced back to early American pioneer times when bee balms were often prescribed to alleviate symptoms of rheumatism and other rheumatic conditions, as well as being used for wounds, skin disorders, and coughs. Native American tribes, such as the Pueblo and Zuni, used the herb in food, poultices, and medicine.
They would boil bee balms flowers in water or place them on a tree to dry so that the smoke from the boiling water would clear the nostrils of irritants and help the user to breathe easier. Other Native American tribes, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and other Indian tribes, also enjoyed bee balm as a poultice to treat sunburn and other skin maladies, as well as treating flatulence.
Today, you may want to consider growing some of these plants to take advantage of their historic roots and flavor. This flavorful healing herb can be found in a number of types, including dried flowers and strips, dried pods, fresh leaves, seeds, and even tea. You can use a combination of these different parts of the plant to create a variety of different concoctions, from cold teas, salsas, and dips to sweet desserts and breads.
Many people choose to purchase ready-made bee balm mixes that contain a variety of the plants or mix the plant into their own creations, creating unique treats for themselves and loved ones. Either way, you will find that this remarkable little plant is the perfect addition to your kitchen pantry.
Medicinal Uses of Bee Balm
Bee Balm is a powerful yet gentle oil that has been in use for centuries by aboriginal tribes. As a powerful antiseptic it can be used to disinfect the skin of cuts, scrapes, and burns, and it is also known to help soothe the itchy ears of a baby or a small child. It has an assertive scent that some people find very unpleasant when inhaled.
Bee Balm is said to have originated from eastern North America where it thrived and is now grown in different parts of the world including Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, and France. It is one of the largest herb in the mint family, and is used as an antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, digestive aid and a source of essential oils and teas.
Germinating Bee Balm Seeds
When growing Bee Balm from seed, the best time to germinate is 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost. The key to germinating Bee Balm seeds correctly is to sow them fairly superficially without much or any cover and then keep them moist by misting them with a spray bottle daily.
The seeds need to be at a temperature of 70 F, and exposed to the sun to germinate. Bee Balm seeds need approximately 14 -28 days to fully germinate. You can transplant seedlings or rooted cuttings outdoors in mid to late-spring.
There are a few ways that you can germinate the seeds, but I find that the easiest way to do this is with a seed starter tray, combined with a high quality seedling mix. Both these products are available on Amazon.
Propagating from Cuttings
Bee balm can be propagated from very small clumps of cuttings. A good method of propagating these plants is by using a sharp spade. To form a large clump, a wire cage or plastic bag can be wrapped around the plant firmly and the roots are then cut frequently.
It is very important to remove all the leaves from the plant as this will allow the best air circulation around the roots. As the plant grows, it forms a strong root system that supports a good growing environment.
Selecting a Pot or Planter
When growing bee balm, select a bigger pot size, and make sure that it has holes in the bottom to allow for good drainage. They should not be made of clay, because it is porous, and does not allow good air circulation, and can easily get burned or contaminated with fungi.
The best pot materials to use are, fiberglass, plastic, and resin pots. When selecting the size of your pot, I would recommend using a pot that is a minimum of 16″ to 18″ inches in diameter. This will give your plant more than enough room, so that the roots can fully expand.
Soil is one of the most important parts in growing any kind of plants. This is because the soil will help the plant to thrive and grow. If the soil is not able to provide the right amount of nutrients needed, then the plants won’t be able to grow properly. This is where organic gardeners turn to a herb such as bee balm. The herbs can be grown in any type of soil, including potting soil.
The problem with a lot of people when it comes to growing herbs is that they fail to do proper soil research. The majority of people just look at the plant and decide if it needs any fertilizer or water. This is not the way to go about proper soil structure. The reason why it is so important to look into the soil structure is because a proper soil structure is one of the biggest factors in determining how well a plant will grow.
Without soil structure, a plant may not be able to absorb enough water or grow at all. Bee balm is a great example of a plant that does very well in a variety of soils. A lot of people think that if a plant grows better in a particular soil that it would not grow as well in another type of soil. That is not true, though.
What you need to know is what type of soil the plant needs to grow at its maximum potential. Once you determine what type of soil the plant needs, then you can make the necessary adjustments to make it grow properly. This is the most important part of proper soil structure for bee balm.
When it comes to watering, you should only water the roots and not the flowering stems or leaves. You should water your bee balm at a frequency of at least once a week or every 7-10 days, during dry periods.
One way to maintain proper moisture is by using a soil moisture meter. Using a moisture meter will remove all the guesswork of watering frequency.
Bee balm needs a lot of sun. For optimum growing conditions, the area should receive around six hours of sunlight. This can be obtained by using a large sunny area. During summer one can place these plants on the balcony and in this way the sunlight will reach the plants on a daily basis.
When pruning this plant from the garden or flower bed, one should use caution because some varieties of this plant are very prickly and will cause a stinging sensation when the pruned buds are pulled off of the plant. This is often caused by one-third of the flowering buds being removed; although there are other causes, such as harvesting at the wrong time of year.
To reduce the possibility that the plant will develop prickly growths, it is best to trim one-third of the plant’s flowers. It can take up to a year for the plant to re-grow all of its buds, but this will also allow the plant to bloom all year long, instead of just for one growing season.
To harvest bee balm, remove the stems from the flower buds and the petals. The leaves and stems can be dried for later use, while the petals and the buds can be ground up into a fine powder. Tie bunches up and hang them upside down in a dry, or air-conditioned area like your cold room or even in your garage.
The leaves can be harvested from late summer through early fall. The flowers, which are in the late autumn or early spring, are ready for making. All that is left for you to do is to dry and ferment it.
Bee balm is a perennial herb, and is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. It has been around for centuries but recently has become more popular as a culinary herb. This is not surprising since its fragrance is similar to that of many types of pepper, with a slight lemon twist. It is often served as an appetizer or spice during special occasions, such as holidays, festivals, weddings, and dinners.
One of the uses of bee balm that is gaining popularity in the culinary world today is in cooking. Bee balms can be used as a marinade for grilled chicken, lamb, beef, or shrimp; added to salads; as a hot sauce for pizza and pasta, and even used as a dressing for eggs, cheese, and chicken.
This makes bee balms versatile when it comes to culinary uses. As more people discover the health benefits of balms, they will also be able to come to appreciate the wonderful tastes that bee balms have to offer.
Bee balm is also known as a common remedy, especially in herbal medicine, as a tonic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic. This is because bee balm has been used for years to treat skin problems, including acne, boils, rashes, burns, and abscesses.
Some people even consider it to be an aphrodisiac. This may explain why bee balms are commonly found in aromatherapy books. They are also known to contain antibiotic, antifungal, and teratogenic properties.