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Scarlet Bee Balm Monarda didyma

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

Bee balm is an herbaceous perennial in the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Native to the North Carolina mountains, it may be seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway flowering during the summer months. 

This plant prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun but will tolerate some shade. Bee balm can reach a height of 4 feet and will spread rapidly by underground stolons. Blossoms attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, and the leaves have a minty aroma when crushed. 

Bee balm provides color and contrast for the perennial border, cottage garden, specimen planting, native and pollinator garden, meadow, naturalized planting, and along ponds or streams. It is used in herbal medicine, and its flowers are edible.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Stems are erect and square with opposite leaves
  • Leaves are coarse, pubescent, minute axillary leafy shoots
  • Inflorescence is leafy-bracketed, dense glomerules
  • Flowers are two-lipped, elongated, thin corolla tubes

 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Plants are susceptible to powdery mildew and rust. Avoid overhead watering to minimize mildew.

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Vegetable Garden and Pollinator Plants Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden Davidson County Demo Garden Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Foundation Planting- West Side of House Pollinator Garden- Partial Shade Border Landscape Pinewild County Club, Moore County Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Foundation Planting- West Side of House Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden Bee Hive Garden, Wake Co Pond Garden Bee Hive Garden, Wake Co Wildlife Garden- Bird Sanctuary
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jacob Cline'
    Large red flowers, mildew resistant
'Jacob Cline'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#perennials#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#yellow flowers#native perennials#nectar plant#fall interest#rabbit resistant#playground#specialized bees#cpp#fire medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#native garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#late spring flowers#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#wet soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#HS302#pollinator garden#bee friendly#black walnut toxicity tolerant#Audubon#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Jacob Cline'
    Large red flowers, mildew resistant
'Jacob Cline'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#perennials#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#yellow flowers#native perennials#nectar plant#fall interest#rabbit resistant#playground#specialized bees#cpp#fire medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#native garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#late spring flowers#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#wet soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#HS302#pollinator garden#bee friendly#black walnut toxicity tolerant#Audubon#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Monarda
    Species:
    didyma
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The plant resins have been used to soothe bee stings. The Oswego Indians of New York state also used the leaves for tea. Used in herbal medicine.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Leaf Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Distribution:
    CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , SC , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts bumblebees, swallowtail butterflies, and Ruby-throated hummingbirds. It is a larval host to the hermit sphinx, orange mint moth, and the raspberry pyrausta. Members of the genus Monarda support the following specialized bees: Dufourea monardae, Perdita (Perdita) gerhardi, and Protandrena abdominalis.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is resistant to damage by deer and rabbits.
    Edibility:
    Used in teas, flavor jellies, soups, stews, and fruit salads; edible flowers.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Ovoid nutlets display from September to October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The scarlet flowers are in a compact rounded 2-4 inch head, usually single and terminal. Each flower head is subtended by a whorl of showy, red-tinged, leafy bracts. Flowers are zygomorphic and are borne in 1-2 whorls. Flowers are 13-15 veined, have 5 teeth, and the corolla is narrowly tubular. Lobes of flowers are 2-lipped, erect and spreading. The upper lobe is longer than the lower lobe. Blooms from July to September.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    3-6 inch long lance-shaped to ovate fragrant leaves with serrated margins and reddish veins. Undersides have spreading hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Description:
    Stems are square and thinly pilose.
  • 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
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Weedy