Monarda - Bee Balm
Monarda belongs to the Mint family, Lamiaceae. It's easy to recognize Monarda's relationship to mints. Stems are squared. Leaves are slender, tapered and toothed. The flowers are quite large compared to mints, usually red to pink in color, and are produced repeatedly throughout the growing season. The fragrance is very pleasing.
M. didyma is sometimes called Scarlet Beebalm or Oswego Tea. You can find it growing wild, especially in the Appalacians where rich, moist, well-drained soils are very much to its liking.
Scarlet Beebalm is known for its antiseptic properties. It attracts bees, so is a useful honey plant. Butterflies love it, too. But most of us love Scarlet Beebalm because it is so beautiful.
Monarda grows up to 48 inches, sometimes taller, so the lovely flowers may tower above other perennials. It is suitable in perennial gardens and borders, herb gardens, butterfly and bee gardens, and wildflower gardens. New cultivars and hybrids are available in differing heights and in colors ranging from white, to pink, purplish and scarlet.
To learn more, read our article Refreshing Oswego Tea.