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Portland Nursery

MONARDA: Bee Balm

A member of the mint family, Monarda species include annual and perennial upright growing herbaceous plants endemic to North America. They range in height from 8—35” with equal spread. The leaves are lanceolate, opposite on the stem, smooth to slightly hairy, and have lightly serrated margins.

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Photo Credit: Scott Weber from his wonderful blog: Rhone Street Gardens

Monarda plants bloom brightly colored whorls with leafy bracts from mid- to late summer. Flower colors are varying shades of reds, pinks, and violets. The leaves, when crushed, exude a spicy, highly fragrant oil.

Monarda has historically been used as a medicinal plant by many Native American tribes. It has been recognized for it's antiseptic properties and was traditionally used as a poultice for skin infections and minor wounds. Monarda is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas and was traditionally used to treat mouth and throat infections. Monarda has also been used as a digestive aid for settling the stomach and relieving excessive flatulence.

Monarda is often used in beds and borders to encourage and increase the appearance of hummingbirds, pollinating insects, and predatory insects that hunt garden pests. Because of oils present in its roots is sometimes used as a companion plant around small vegetable crops susceptible to subterranean pests. Bee balm is considered a good plant to grow with tomatoes, improving both health and flavor.

Monarda pairs beautifully with Echinacea, Achillea, Salvias, and Perovskia.


Monarda 'Aquarius'

‘Aquarius’

  • Height: 3-4 ft
  • Spread: 1 ½ ft
  • Bloom: Mauve with green bracts
  • Foliage: bronze-green
  • Comments: Mildew resistant

Monarda 'Blue Stocking'

‘Blue Stocking’

  • Height: 2-4 ft
  • Spread: 1 ½ ft
  • Bloom: Dark violet-blue with purple bracts
  • Foliage: Dark Green
  • Comments: vigorous, mildew resistant, good cut flower

Monarda 'Jacob Cline'

‘Jacob Cline’

  • Height: 3-4 ft
  • Spread: 1 ½ ft
  • Bloom: large, deep red with dark red bracts
  • Foliage: Dark green
  • Comments: mildew resistant

Monarda 'Petite Delight'

‘Petite Delight’

  • Height: 12-15 in
  • Spread: 12 in
  • Bloom: rosy-lavender
  • Foliage: dark green, glossy
  • Comments: Compact, good for containers, very mildew resistant

Monarda 'Raspberry wine'

‘Raspberry Wine’

  • Height: 2-4 ft
  • Spread: 2 ft
  • Bloom: berry-red
  • Foliage: large, dark green
  • Comments: deer resistant, mildew resistant

CoralReef250

‘Coral Reef’

  • Height: 3-4 ft
  • Spread: 2 ft
  • Bloom: vibrant pink with pale pink bracts
  • Foliage: mid-green
  • Comments: Good cut flower

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Monarda 'Grand Mum'

FACTS: MONARDA

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Monarda

Common Name: Bee Balm, Bergamot, Horesemint, Oswego Tea

Origin: North America

Characteristics: Monarda is a genus consisting of approximately 16 species of flowering plants.

Culture: Monarda plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Plants established in partial shade or filtered sun tend to flower less. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings.

Maintenance: The plant should be divided every 3 to 5 years to reduce spread, keep the central core of the plant healthy, preclude root rot, and improve air circulation about the foliage. Deadheading as flowers fade can prolong bloom time. Cutting the plant back before flowering can encourage compact growth.

Pest & Diseases: Powdery mildew can be a problem with Monardas if the plants get too dry in the summer or if the foliage becomes too dense. Slugs can be a major pest devouring the plants new growth so slug baiting in early spring is recommended.