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Monarda didyma

Phonetic Spelling
mo-NAR-da DID-ee-mah
Description

Monarda didyma, known by a number of different common names including bee balm, Oswego tea, and bergamot, is native to eastern North America where it typically occurs in bottomlands, thickets, moist woods and along streambanks from Maine to Minnesota south to Missouri and Georgia.  

The common name of bee balm is in reference to a former use of plant resins to soothe bee stings. The common name of Oswego tea is in reference to a former use of plants leaves for tea by the Oswego Indians of New York State. The toothed, aromatic leaves (3-5” long) are still used today for teas and in salads. The common name of wild bergamot is in reference to the purported similarity of the aroma of plant flowers to the bergamot orange. Flowers have a minty, citrus, sweet, hot flavor.

Bee-balm is native to the North Carolina mountains and may be seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway flowering in summer. 

Bee balm is a butterfly magnet for border fronts. It provides color and contrast for the perennial border, cottage garden, wild garden, native plant garden, meadow, herb garden, naturalized planting or along ponds or streams. Good plant for butterfly gardens and bird gardens.

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Late summer            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Plants are susceptible to powdery mildew, especially in crowded gardens, but it is usually in the late season after flowering.  Prune stems to increase airflow.  Severe cases may require fungicidal sprays. In addition, if the soil is allowed to dry out, the stressed plants become increasingly susceptible to disease. Rust can also be a problem.

Monarda spreads rapidly through underground runners which must be cut back to keep it in place.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#red#fall#white#butterflies#pink#sun#birds#partial shade#summer#perennial#herbs#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#nectar plant#rabbit resistant#clay soil#black walnut#wet sites#specialized bees#cpp#fire#medium flammability#deer resistant#native garden#perennials#pollinator plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#red#fall#white#butterflies#pink#sun#birds#partial shade#summer#perennial#herbs#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#nectar plant#rabbit resistant#clay soil#black walnut#wet sites#specialized bees#cpp#fire#medium flammability#deer resistant#native garden#perennials#pollinator plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Monarda
    Species:
    didyma
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used in teas, flavor jellies, soups, stews, and fruit salads; edible flowers
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Leaf Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts bees, butterflies, and Ruby-throated hummingbirds. Members of the genus Monarda support the following specialized bees: Dufourea monardae, Perdita (Perdita) gerhardi, and Protandrena abdominalis.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is resistant to damage by deer and rabbits.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Bee balm is a somewhat coarse, clump-forming, mint family member that features tubular, two-lipped, bright scarlet-red flowers crowded into dense, globular, terminal flowerheads (to 3-4” across) somewhat resembling unkempt mop-heads. The flowers are in a compact rounded head, usually single and terminal. Each flowerhead is subtended by a whorl of showy, red-tinged, leafy bracts. Long summer bloom extends for about 8 weeks from early/mid-summer to late summer. Plant foliage declines after bloom, particularly if infected with mildew.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Bee balm features 2-4’ tall square stems clad with opposite, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, medium to deep green leaves (3-6” long) with serrate margins. The leaves emit a minty fragrance when bruised or crushed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy