One of the showiest summer-blooming perennials, Monarda has very distinctive, brightly colored flower-heads that create captivating border displays and provide a great impact when used in mass planting. The blooms consist of asymmetrical, two-lipped tubular flowers borne in dense, globular terminal heads, which rest upon a whorl of decorative bracts that attract scores of butterflies and hummingbirds. Monarda is also grown for its aromatic foliage that can be enjoyed in salads or simply by passing by.

  • Monarda didyma (Bee Balm) and Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) are the most commonly cultivated of the 16 species native to North America. Monarda didyma produces scarlet-red flowers collared by red-tinged bracts, whereas Monarda fistulosa enjoys light lavender to pinkish-white flowers surrounded by bracts that are often tinted with pink.
  • Both species have tall, sturdy stems and a spreading habit.
  • Blooming for weeks from mid summer to early fall, these showy perennials are a striking addition to informal borders, wildflower meadows or water edges. The boldness of Monarda blooms makes it terrific for massing or as an accent plant. They combine very well with other summer perennials such as phlox, irises, daylilies and yarrows.
  • They make excellent cut flowers!
  • Growing in clumps of upright stems, up to 4 ft tall (120 cm), clad with aromatic, ovate-lanceolate leaves, they perform best in full sun or partial shade. They are not too fussy about soils, provided they are consistently kept moist.
  • Monarda fistulosa is more tolerant of dry conditions than Monarda didyma which requires rich, moist soils for best growth. Many of the commonly grown cultivars, which are hybrids of Monarda didyma and Monarda fistulosa are often more tolerant of drier soils too.
  • Providing good air circulation to combat powdery mildew is important as this plant is often prone to this problem! Many hybrid cultivars have been developed between Monarda Didyma and Monarda Fistulosa, not only with the effect of widening the color range but also to improve their drought tolerance and disease resistance.
  • Monarda flowers attract streams of butterflies, hummingbirds and other beneficial pollinators. Deer and rabbit resistant.
  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage new blooms. Fast growing, Monarda spreads vigorously and will need to be divided every 2-3 years.
  • Should be cut to the ground after flowering to promote the growth of new healthy shoots and leaves.