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Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata

Monardas — Pollinator Favorites

Wisconsin Native Monarda
Scientific Name: Monarda
Family Lamiaceae (mint family)
Habitat Moist but well-drained soils.
Fragrance Bergamot: citrus
Bee Balm: Oregano with hint of mint and thyme
Sun Shade tolerant, but prefers full sun to partial shade
Common Names Bee balm, Wild Bergamot, Bergamot, Oswego Tea, Golden Melissa, Indian Nettle

Meet the Monardas — the crowning glory of the mint plant family! The bee balm uses and benefits are many, both for you and your garden. There are 4 native plants belonging to the species Monarda that come in various colors available for adding visual delight as well as edible and medicinal benefit.

The Oswego Indian tribe used this plant to make an herbal tea and they taught the early American settlers how to do so as well. This just happened to come in very handy following the Boston Tea Party. As the settlers revolted against the British tax on tea, they drank tea made from Monarda instead, thus thumbing their noses at the British and their taxes.

Monarda brings a lot of charm and interest to the garden. 'En masse' plantings in naturalized areas are a showstopper and create a high-traffic area for butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

Enjoy these as specimen plants paired with your favorite summer-into-fall bloomers in the middle of the garden. When they are in full flower (with a few to spare), you can pick a few flowers and leaves to make a batch of iced Bee Balm tea and watch the garden grow. Or dry some and save it for hot Oswego tea on a cold winter’s night!

Native Americans used the foliage of beebalm as an anti-septic in traditional medicines, and the foliage as a light tea.

How To Plant Monardas

Monardas are available to plant in the spring and fall. Plant them as soon as they arrive in well-drained soil that has been amended with organic matter. If you cannot plant them at once in permanent positions, shallowly heel them into a temporary position and keep them well-watered until transplanting.

  Light: Bee balm does best in full sun. Though it will grow in part shade, it tends to stretch and become leggy over time.
  Soil: Bee balm does best in evenly moist soil rich in organic matter. It can tolerate lighter soil, but richer soil will encourage taller, stronger specimens. Boggy conditions are not tolerated, nor are soils that are allowed to dry out for long periods of time.
  Spacing: Plants should be spaced 18-24 inches apart.
  Dividing: Bee balm is in the mint family, and absolutely lives up to the family name. It will intensively spread over a season via a mat of underground stems (stolons), but can be kept under control by regular digging and dividing.
  Planting: Plant bee balm in the spring or early fall. Either time of year works well; however, when fall-planting Bee Balm, it's best to trim back the foliage to encourage the plant to focus its energy towards the roots.

Plant Care

  Monardas perform best in full sun or partial shade
  The are adaptable to a variety of soils
  Requires moist, rich soils for best grow
  Can be susceptible to Powdery Mildew — prevent by providing good air circulation
  Attracts butterflles, bees and hummingbirds
  Deadhead spent flower to encourage new blooms
  Monarda spreads vigorously, best to divide every 2-3 years
  Cut to the ground after flowering to promote the growth of new healthy shoots and leaves

Wisconsin Native Monarda Catalog

Bergamot

Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand, Clay
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Lavender

Bradbury's Beebalm

Bradburys Beebalm, Monarda bradburiana Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 5
Soil : Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple, Pink

Scarlet Beebalm

Scarlet Beebalm, Monarda	 didyma Height: 3-5 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Red

Spotted Beebalm

Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow, Lavender

Lemon Beebalm

Lemon Beebalm, Monarda citriodora Height: 1-2.5 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Lavender, Pink

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Lovely Native Phlox
 Use Eggshells For Your Plants
 How to Use Banana Peels in Your Garden

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