How to grow Monarda common name Bee Balm

How to grow Monarda common names Bee Balm and Bergamot

Monarda, a lovely scented summer flowering plant which is irresistible to gardeners and bees. There are perennial and annual varieties and for best value select the perennial varieties to come again each year.

Monarda looks great in a mixed border, its leaves are aromatic and it is attractive to bees. 

Monarda is long flowering and fully hardy, it is tolerant only of light shade  and is really a sun loving perennial . It is tolerant of moist soil and if grown in very dry conditions it can be prone to powdery mildew. Like many aromatic plants it dislikes excessive winter wet. It is a bit picky in where to plant it,  neither too wet or too dry, but essentially easy and maintenance free in the right spot.

Monarda will attract bees and butterflies and flowers in the summer. It does not need staking, most varieties grow to around 1m although there are some newer, dwarf varieties now available.

Regular dead heading will encourage long flowering and before flowering it is possible to cut it back which will make for a more compact plant and later flowering. Reduce by about one third in May- more about the Chelsea Chop.

The common names are Bee Balm, as it has great allure to the bees, and also Bergamot because the leaves are scented and when rubbed it is said they smell similar to the Bergamot oranges. Some varieties can be very short lived perennial, annuals really, such as 'Bergamo'. Illustrated above right M. 'Squaw'  which is long lasting.

Monarda is a very attractive, easy to grow long flowering perennial. 

RHS

There are a number of Monarda with the RHS garden merit award which is a good starting point when selecting. M. 'Squaw' illustrated above right one the best known, also M. 'Marshall's Delight' which flowers mauve and grows between .5-1.; M. 'Gardenview Scarlet' which is vigorous; M. 'Violet Queen'.

Monarda hybrida 'Bergamo' does not have the RHS award and is an annual but is very attractive to both bees and butterflies and has multiple purple worls of flowers for a long time as with all Monarda, prolonged by regular dead heading. 

The main problem when growing Monarda is powdery mildew and to avoid this do not plant in dry soil and the varieties M. 'Garden view scarlet', 'Marshall's Delight', 'Sunset' and 'Violet Queen' are said to be more resistant.