Our B Balm has been a great success this year and attracted a lot of attention from Bees and Hummingbirds.
Now most of the petals on the flowers have gone. Should we remove the flower pods? Would this strengthen the plants or should we leave them untouched and will they then spread seeds for next year?
03 Septembet 2021
Hello, thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners for information about your Bee Balm. Bee Balm is known by many names: Bergamot , Oswego Tea and Monarda. It’s a wonderful addition to any garden as it attracts many pollinators; Bees, Butterflies, and in your case, luckily hummingbirds. It has been a great year for Bee Balm. My patch has doubled in size and the blooms were larger than ever. I typically leave the spent seed heads on as they provide food for overwintering birds as well as some structure and hight for an otherwise boring winter landscape. However, this year my Bee Balm has suffered badly from powdery mildew and as I don’t want that spreading around, I have reluctantly removed all of the affected plant material.
Bee Balm spreads rapidly via vigorous underground rhizomes, so you needn’t worry about keeping the seeds. This rapid spreading habit can cause problems, as in my case my clump became too dense and powdery mildew stepped in. To prevent this, one should divide clumps regularly to avoid overcrowding. Bee Balm is happiest in moist conditions, so avoid letting these plants dry out as it makes them susceptible to mildew and other problems.
My suggestion would be in the fall, if your plants show no sign of mildew, leave a few spent flower heads for the birds, but cut the rest down to 3 or so inches above the soil.
I am attaching a link with more information about this plant, and I wish you best of luck with your Bee Balm next year.