Bee Balm Propagation 101

Bee Balm Propagation 101

As a member of the notoriously fast-spreading mint (Lamiaceae) family, bee balm ( spp.) is about as easy to propagate as it gets.

A vertical close up of a bright pink Monarda flower growing in the summer garden, pictured in bright sunshine, with foliage in soft focus in the background. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white text.dividing perennials also gives them a little extra room to spread, improving overall plant health.

By Division

This is generally how I propagate my bee balm plants.

Bee balm spreads rapidly on its own through specialized underground stems known as rhizomes, so you’ll have ample opportunity to make divisions of new growth.

A close up of white bee balm flowers growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.sharp garden knife.

How small should these smaller clumps be? Leave two to three shoots per divided clump with an intact root system that’s at least six inches in diameter.

This is also a good time to remove any damaged stems or unhealthy-looking foliage as well as any dead roots or stems.

Dividing is also a good time to check on the overall health of your plants. If parts of the root system that you dig up are slimy, this may indicate root rot.

You want to get rid of that part of the root system by cutting away and disposing of any diseased portions, and consider amending the soil in the planting area to improve drainage.

likes moist conditions, but this plant doesn’t appreciate wet feet.

You’ll want to replant your new divisions immediately, as bee balm doesn’t like dry roots either.

Choose their new homes carefully – these plants can be very aggressive and have a tendency to take over less robust plants via the spreading rhizomes.

Read more about this in our guide to controlling bee balm (coming soon!).

I also recommend applying a layer of mulch the new plantings to help them maintain moisture and prevent weed growth while they’re becoming established.

As is the case when transplanting most plants, I think it’s also a good idea to give them a kickstart with a shot of transplant fertilizer, like this product from Bonide that’s available from Home Depot.

A close up of the packaging of Root and Grow, a plant fertilizer, pictured on a white background.Bonide Root Grow Concentrate, 1 Qt.

This 4-10-3 (NPK) fertilizer mix includes IBA Root Stimulator to stimulate root growth, and helps to prevent transplant shock while providing a boost of nutrients. Be sure to dilute the concentrate and apply it according to package directions.

From Seed

Growing from seed is easy, with good germination rates, and can be done with store-bought or harvested seed.

If you plan to grow seed that you have saved from your own plants, harvest the seed about two weeks after the flowers are finished blooming.

A close up of the dried seed heads of a patch of Monarda plants growing in the garden.From Stem Cuttings

Growing from cuttings is a great choice if you have only a few large plants and want to propagate a specific variety.

Take cuttings from the tips of new growth in the spring. Cuttings should be about six inches long and the cut should be made just below a leaf node.

Remove the bottom set of leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone about two inches up the stem.

A close up of the packaging of a small tub of rooting hormone gel, on a white background.Nutri-Root Plus Rotting Gel

I like to use Nutri-Root Plus Rooting Gel, available from Growershouse.

Submerge the cuttings two inches deep in four-inch pots filled with vermiculite or potting mix.

I recommend placing pots in a bottom watering tray under a humidity dome or with a clear plastic bag suspended above the cuttings.

You can do this by taping pencils or dulled sticks to the corners on the outside of the tray, for example.

Keep an eye on the cuttings to check for root growth coming out the bottom of the pots, which should happen in two to four weeks.

I like to water all of my cuttings every few times with regular 3 percent hydrogen peroxide available at most pharmacies and department stores instead of water.

This prevents them from rotting, resulting in higher success rates.

Once they are rooted, remove the bags and place them in a sunny window or greenhouse until you plant them in their permanent position.

New Bee Balm Beginnings

Although bee balm may be easy to propagate, that doesn’t make doing so any less rewarding.

Just make sure to place your plants where you don’t mind them spreading out when you transplant, and don’t put them near any smaller plants that will be taken over easily.

Bee balm has a tendency to expand outward via its underground rhizomes.

A large swath of pink bee balm flowers growing in the garden with a pond in soft focus in the background.propagating other flowering plants? Add these guides to your reading list next:

Trent Rhode

While studying journalism in college in 2003, Trent Rhode stumbled upon the world of gardening while working on an assignment. He has been captivated by walnut trees, kiwi vines, daylilies, and the ecology of gardens and farms ever since. When he’s not on the land, Trent loves sharing his passion for gardening through his writing, with a particular interest in providing tips and tricks for working in harmony with natural processes to allow nature to do some of the heavy lifting.

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