Bee Balm

Bee Balm

monarda

It soothes gastric and intestinal pain in the absence of inflammation and overcomes nausea and vomiting. Bee balm is strongly anti-fungal, lending itself to combating topical infections.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Wild Bergamot, Horsemint, Sweet Leaf
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves & Flowers
  • Side Effects: Do not use in pregnancy
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About Bee Balm

Bee balm belongs to the genus Monarda that is a highly reputable member of our very own mint family, Lamiaceae. It is also recognized as horsemint, Oswego tea, and bergamot (because of the fragrance of its leaves that remind us of bergamot orange). This perennial plant has whorled blooms that can grow in cheerful pink, red or lavender shade and resembles the shape of a daisy.

The plant of bee balm can attain a magnificent height of 8-35 inches. It is characterized by a slightly hairy stem of about 2.5 to 5.5 inches in length with serrated leaves that are organized oppositely. The flowers of bee balm are hermaphroditic with colors that can render life to your garden.

The taste of its foliage renders a minty flavor with a slight essence of oregano. Its pungent and not so sweet smack highly compliments roasted meat.

Now that we know how playful bee balm is in the culinary department, it certainly doesn’t back down when it comes to its medicinal use. A cosmic proportion of medicinal benefits are associated with bee balm that favors its already soaring prestige.

It is employed in aromatherapy due to its soothing fragrance. It also deals with a variety of digestive diseases, aids in sleep, treats sore throat, fever, and congestion. Its topical preparation helps in managing pain, psoriasis, eczema, cold sores, acne, and so forth.

Growing

Bee balm is a pollination friendly plant that is quite good at attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden.

The plantation of the Bee Balm plant can be done both indoors and outdoors. For indoor setting, it is preferred to sow the seeds around 8 weeks before the last spring frost. For transplantation, a well-rooted plant is perfect if it is moved to the garden bed just a week before the last spring frost.

Bee Balm plant calls for the sunshine and winds of spring or fall to manifest a sharp growth. It prospers healthily when it is rendered the perfect amount of full sun exposure with good air circulation and a lot of water at the time of planting.

Evenly moist soil with mulch aids in robust growth. Mulch not only helps in retaining the moisture of the soil but also limits the growth of weeds.

It is instructed to snip off the faded flowers for the encouragement of fresh ones in late summer. Further, the first frost of the fall should be followed by trimming of stems at least two inches above the surface. In spring, it seems better to make small divisions of the new roots of the stable plant to witness a solid growth.

The broadcasted seeds of the Bee Balm grow happily and eventually bloom in mid, or late summer in the form of dense clusters of red, pink or lavender flowers.

The bright colors of the petals attract the pollinating insects and animals to make the process of pollination possible. After the pollination, the flower undergoes post-fertilization variations that give rise to the seed formation. The seeds account for the continuation of the lifecycle by leading the way for germination that hardly takes 14 to 28 days.

Harvesting

The best part about harvesting the Bee Balm plant is that its leaves and flowers can be harvested anytime during the growing season. It is encouraged to pick the flowers frequently to enhance the production of fresh flowers.

Better go for plucking the flowers and leaves mid-morning after the evaporation of dew to experience the best of its flavor.

The leaves and flowers of the Bee Balm are cheered for their flavor and medicinal value.
The stalks are simply clipped and are stored for later use. 

The stalks of the Bee Balm are left to dry away from the dust and sunlight.
Or the leaves and flowers can simply be plucked off of the stalk and splayed on the screen to dry for 1 to 2 weeks.

A speedy method that involves drying is by making use of the dehydrator. The leaves and the flowers are left in the dehydrator until your items have completely dried. The best judge of dryness is your touch. Just when they crumble easily, you know it’s time to store them in an airtight glass jar for later use.

Usage

There are various ways of utilizing this amazing plant to celebrate its flavor with the touch of medicinal use.

  • Tincture- Infuse freshly chopped basil leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea- Either fresh or dried Bee Balm leaves are added in the cup of boiling water. The leaves are steeped for 10 minutes and the liquid is enjoyed as a tea. Sugar or honey can be added to savor the taste.
  • Decoction- Dried Bee Balm leaves are left to simmer in water for about an hour. The strained liquid is then used as Bee Balm decoction.
  • Salve- Bee Balm leaves are blended with beeswax and other ingredients to form a salve that aids in managing various skin infections.
  • Syrup- Bee Balm flowers are simmered in the solution of sugar and water to form Bee Balm syrup.
  • Infused oil- Wilted basil leaves are added to olive oil and infused for 3-4 weeks. Once the oil is to your liking, strain and bottle to use in cooking.