do birds eat bee balm seeds

Saving seed from Bee Balm can be a tricky thing. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably followed some other guide and had disappointing results. Well, I’ve been saving this seed for over 5 years, and I will now share my process, tips, tricks and some other interesting finds about how to save Beebalm seed.

The seed will be viable for a couple of years after collection. But, the viability will reduce some with each passing year.

Process for saving Bee Balm seeds

It’s a simple step, but there are a few species whose seed heads resemble bee balm. Namely, Wild Bergamot and Monarda Citronella. Thus, before gathering the seed, make sure your plant is healthy!

do birds eat bee balm seeds

Be careful that the plant you are collecting seeds from is not a hybrid if you are doing so from a neighbor’s yard. You can be certain that the seed you gather will enable you to grow the desired plant if it is a true native species. On the other hand, if you harvest seed from a hybrid, one of the parent plants will be produced.

2 – Gather the seed heads

2-3 weeks after blooming, go inspect the plants. Gather the seed heads right away if they appear to have been damaged by birds or if they are brown.

do birds eat bee balm seeds

Cradle the seed head in your hand and gently bend a stalk over if the seed heads appear somewhat green rather than brown. Consider gathering the seed heads or coming back a few days later if any seed falls out of the seed head.

Red bee balm seed heads fall out very easily, which is why it is crucial to gather them earlier than for other species. Much more so than other Monarda species.

do birds eat bee balm seeds

Based on my own research, I have discovered that on Monarda Didyma, the clearance between the seed and tube diameter is up to 20% more. You can read this little study, which is kind of interesting, here.

However, it is crucial that you avoid tipping the seed heads sideways or upside down when cutting them. Gently chop the seed so that any loose pieces fall out, then place it upright in a paper bag or other container. or straight until the loose seed falls into your container without risk.

Extra Tips on harvesting Bee Balm seed

Get to the seed heads 2-3 weeks after bloom time. Keep an eye on the plants! You should gather the heads as soon as the plants begin to produce seed.

A large portion of seed dispersal is likely caused by violent winds, so if a wind storm is predicted, you should get to the seed heads beforehand.

Use a container that can hang around your neck. I use a travel cooler that is attached to my neck with a strap. When gathering seeds, this frees up both of my hands.

Don’t give up! Some years I receive very little seed. To preserve Bee Balm seed requires perseverance, diligence, and tenacity!

FAQ

What animal will eat bee balm?

The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees; and the seed heads will attract birds in the fall and winter. Here’s how to plant and grow bee balm in your garden! Bee balm can be planted in the spring or in the fall.

What is eating my bee balm?

The stalk borer occasionally tunnels in beebalm. This borer infests an occasional stalk of many kinds of herbaceous plants and it frequently causes rather severe injury to dahlia. As a rule its presence escapes notice until the plant begins to wilt. Then it is too late for the plant to recover.

Does bee balm bloom the first year from seed?

Bee Balm does not usually flower until the second year.

What not to plant with bee balm?

Shade-loving plants that might not thrive when you plant alongside bee balm include hostas, ferns, and astilbes. These plants have shallow roots. The vigorous growth of bee balm can easily overpower them.