Growers Guide for Bee Balm – Monarda Plant

Monarda - Perennial Plant, How to grow

Named after a sixteenth-century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicholas Monardes (Labiatae). A small genus of annual and perennial herbs from North America, with fragrant leaves and flowers, related to Salvia. The leaves are nettle-like, and the flowers have a spiky appearance and are clustered together in whorls: the color ranges from white through pink, mauve, and purple to red.

Species grown today

  • Monarda didyma, bee balm, oswego tea, 2-3 feet, scarlet flowers, sometimes in twin whorls, late summer; cultivators include ‘Adam’, 2-4 feet, cerise ; Beauty of Cobham’, purple leaves, pink flowers; ‘Cambridge Scarlet’, crimson-scarlet; ‘Croftway Pink‘, soft pink; ‘Dark Ponticum’, dark lilac; ‘Melissa’, soft pink; Pale Ponticum’, lavender; ‘Pillar Box’, bright red; ‘Sunset’, 4 feet, purple-red.
  • Monarda fistulosa, wild bergamot, 4-5 feet, purple flowers, summer, not as showy as Monarda didyma ; var. violacea (Violacea superba), deep violet-purple.
  • Monarda menthaefolia, similar to Monarda fistulosa, with mint-like foliage.

Where to plant and propagate

Any ordinary garden soil will suit these plants, but there must be plenty of moisture and good drainage. They will grow in the sun or partial shade. They can be planted in the autumn or spring and need top-dressing.

They can be separated by dividing them in February or March, or they can be grown from seeds planted outside in the spring in a semi-shaded spot or in March in boxes in a greenhouse or cold frame. Seeds germinate easily, but the plants will need weeding and any drab-colored varieties should be discarded.

How to Grow Monarda

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