Bee balm (Monarda didyma), also known as bergamot or Oswego tea, is a stunning flowering plant that can attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. With its bright flowers and intoxicating fragrance, bee balm is an excellent addition to any garden. However, certain plants can inhibit the growth and spread of bee balm. When planning your garden, it’s important to know what not to plant with bee balm.
Why Companion Planting Matters ?
Companion planting refers to strategically placing plants together in a way that benefits growth. The right plant partners can:
- Deter pests
- Improve pollination
- Enhance flavor
- Balance soil nutrients
- Maximize garden space
But incompatible plants will compete for sunlight, nutrients, and water. They can also encourage more pests and diseases. That’s why avoiding these bad bee balm pairings is key.
Plants That Inhibit Bee Balm Growth
Here are the top types of plants you’ll want to keep away from your bee balm:
Bee balm spreads readily on its own via both seed dispersal and underground rhizome growth. Fast-growing, aggressive plants will quickly overtake bee balm if planted too closely. Avoid pairing bee balm with: mint, lemon balm, chives, oregano, Jerusalem artichokes and strawberries. Space these plants far from bee balm to prevent crowding.
Some plants are heavy feeders that rapidly deplete soil nutrients like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage and broccoli. Pairing these with bee balm can starve your bee balm of vital nitrogen and cause stunted growth.
Certain species release natural chemicals into the soil that suppress the growth of their neighbors. These allelopathic plants include: black walnut trees, sunflowers, marigolds and wormwood. Avoid planting bee balm within the root zone of these plants or trees.
Similar Pest & Disease Attractors
Plants that attract similar pests and diseases in close proximity just amplify the problem. Do not plant bee balm near phlox, asters, zinnias. These annuals and perennials also draw powdery mildew, a common and unsightly fungal disease.
Ideal Bee Balm Companions
When pairing plants with bee balm, choose:
Herbs like dill, borage, and calendula attract pollinators. More pollinator traffic means better fruit and seed production for your bee balm.
Pair bee balm with other tubular flowers preferred by hummingbirds and butterflies. Foxglove, salvia, and honeysuckle make great partners.
Vegetables Needing Shade
Position leafy greens, peas, carrots, and other vegetables that appreciate some shade underneath the tall bee balm flowers.
Other native plants have shared growth requirements and pest resistance. Asters, coneflowers, and lilies do well with bee balm.
Onions, garlic, beets, and other root veggies don’t compete much above ground. Just don’t plant them too densely around bee balm.
Tips for Growing Bee Balm
Follow these tips to keep your bee balm happy and healthy among other plants:
- Provide full to partial sun and rich, moist soil. Mulch to retain moisture.
- Space plants 12-15 inches apart for good air circulation.
- Divide clumps every 2-3 years to control spread.
- Cut back flowers after bloom to encourage re-blooming.
- Monitor for common pests like powdery mildew and aphids.
- Choose resistant cultivars like Jacob Cline or Marshall’s Delight.
- Grow in containers if aggressive spread is a concern.
With smart companion planting, your bee balm will thrive! Just steer clear of aggressive spreaders, heavy feeders, and competing species. Then sit back and enjoy the busy pollinators flocking to your garden.