THE bee balm plant – botanical name Monarda – are perennials coming back year-after-year, adding cheerful colour to your garden.

The flowers are an open, daisy like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple and white that are very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Bee balms prefer to be planted in moist, rich soil, in a sunny sheltered location, but will tolerate  shade.

They will grow up to five feet tall, but there are also dwarf varieties that grow 10 inches high, ideal for containers.

Simply pick the flowers frequently, to encourage flower production. Dead-heading or removing spent flowers will also promote a flourish of new blooms.

If you want a bushier plant, pinch-off the stem tips as the new growth appears in early spring.

In late autumn, cut the plant down to just a few inches tall.  In colder areas it may die back completely to the ground.

The bee balm plant is susceptible to powdery mildew, so plant where it will have good air circulation. Also avoid watering from overhead.