Monarda Citriodora, or Lemon Bee Balm, is an annual herb that grows quickly and can survive in lesser quality soils and rocky areas, making it a good choice for new gardeners. Its white, pink or purple flowers bloom from May through the end of summer and give off a minty scent that is highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
When squeezed, the fuzzy leaves have a lemon fragrance that makes a good insect repellent, specifically used to treat bee stings; and when dried, the leaves can be steeped into a tea which has been used as an alternative treatment for soothing coughs, sore throats and nausea.
Choose an area to plant your flowers that get full sunshine all day, although some light shade is tolerable. Plant your seeds directly outside after the chance of frost has passed. Lemon Bee Balm prefers warmer soil around 60 to 75 degrees F.
When the soil is workable, rake or till to loosen it, then work in compost to give it added nutrients and make it well draining. Lemon Lee Balm plants must be kept somewhat moist, but do not tolerate soggy soil conditions.
Scatter the seeds over the prepared soil and gently firm over with your hand, not pushing the seeds in more than 1/8-inch deep. In about 10 to 14 days you will see sprouts developing. Thin the seedlings when they reach about 2 inches high, leaving one foot between plants to allow room for them to reach maturity height of 1-2 feet tall.
Water the seedlings just to keep the soil moist, not allowing it to dry out during germination. Continue to keep well watered until the plants reach 10 to 12 inches high, after which time you can cut back on watering to only two to three times weekly.
Fertilize your plants in early summer with an all purpose liquid fertilizer, 10-10-10, and water in well after applying. To encourage lots of blooms throughout the growing season, pinch off the spent blossoms.
Although considered an annual, Lemon Bee Balm will come back the following season if left to reseed itself in the fall; do not cut back the plants after they finish blooming, allowing the seeds to drop into the ground.