Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bee Balm, Beebalm, Bergamot, Firecracker Plant, Horsemint, Mountain Mint, Oswego Tea
Monarda didyma

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Monarda (mo-NAR-da) (Info)
Species: didyma (DID-ee-muh) (Info)

8 vendors have this plant for sale.

75 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
Scarlet (Dark Red)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By poppysue
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There are a total of 32 photos.
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13 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive greshamdadjohn On Apr 29, 2012, greshamdadjohn from Gresham, OR wrote:

Some years our wet winters in western Oregon kill it despite good drainage. I just got done replanting as I write this. I might try potting it up in the fall and keeping it in my sunporch.

Positive anelson77 On May 31, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

I inherited a patch of these with the house. They are in a half sunny spot, clay loam, watered semi-regularly, fertilized with slow release organic fertilizer once a spring. I do not know the cultivar, but they are bright crimson-red, bloom all July and August, and do not get mildew. They are vigorous and spreading. I have divided them once, which they seemed to like.
A hummingbird favorite.

Positive beansandpenney On May 1, 2009, beansandpenney from Orchard Park, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

We have a beach house, and I threw this into the little garden up there, along with some coneflower. The soil is sandy up there, and I can only take care of that garden on the weekends. Well, both plants went NUTS, it was a jungle, and heaven for the bees, butterflies and hummers!! Everyone loved watching the show. I recommend this plant with the coneflower. I am going to start it at my real house where I have coneflower, along with phlox and russian sage. Should smell wonderful and bring more friends...
The monarda did get mildewy, even with the nice lake-air circulation...but I decided it was worth it for the fragrance and the butterfly/hummer attraction...

Positive RosemaryA On Aug 2, 2008, RosemaryA from Toronto, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

Bought a small plant, about 1 foot high, in May or June. By July it was 4 feet tall and covered with long-lasting, big red flowers! The supermarket where I bought mine was marketing it as a "very easy perennial", and it definitely is very easy in my garden!

Neutral kd2000 On Nov 17, 2007, kd2000 from toronto
Canada wrote:

Despite having purchased numerous specimens of this plant and placing in different areas of the garden I find they all eventually become plagued with powdery mildew. They do spread well for me in Zone 4/5, and flower profusely the first year when small 3" pot plants are purchased in the spring.

Neutral macybee On Nov 1, 2007, macybee from Deer Park, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Monarda - Bergamot, Horsemint
This is a genus of 15 species of perennials or annuals from North America with green, sometimes purple-tinged, veined, aromatic leaves. They are much loved by bees and are used for flavoring teas and in poppourris, as well as for their ornamental value, flower color and scent. Plants can be single stemmed or sparsely branching, and bear 2-lipped, tubular flowers from mid-summer to early fall.
Cultivation: They are very frost-hardy plants best planted in full sun although some shade is acceptable. They must be well-drained; in fact the annual species do best on sandy soil. The perennials are happy in moist soil and in some climates like a good feed of manure or compost. Annuals are sown directly into their permanent spot, and perennials are usually grown by division of established clumps.
Monarda didyma - Bee Balm, Oswego Tea
This herb was used by the American Indians and early colonists as a tea. With its spidery white, pink or red flowers borne in late summer, it is one of the showiest of the culinary herbs. The young leaves may be used in salads or as a soothing tea; they can also be used as a stuffing for roast meat. The species grows 3' or more tall. 'Aquarius' has deep, purple-lilac flowers with purplish green bracts. 'Cambridge Scarlet' is a vigorous perennial to 3' with dark green, slightly toothed leaves that when crushed or brushed against emit an exotic, citrus-like scent. 'Croftway Pink' grows to 30" tall and has rose-pink flowers from mid-summer to early fall.
Zones 4-10.

Neutral earlinagrey On Sep 13, 2006, earlinagrey from Naknek, AK wrote:

I am not sure what our zone in King Salmon, Naknek, Alaska, is, but I am searching for anyone who has had success growing bergamot or bee balm. I love bergamot in tea.

Positive raisedbedbob On Jan 31, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

In addition to being a beautiful plant, it is puported to have medicinal uses. In the 19th century an infusion was made from the leaves and used to treat everything from coughs to infertility.

Positive flowercrazy39 On Aug 25, 2005, flowercrazy39 from Manchester, NH wrote:

So far I like this plant. Had to move it to full sun though because in Zone 5 it wasn't doing well in part shade. Looks much better now. Beautiful color.

Neutral nevadagdn On Mar 24, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I managed to kill this plant. I have NO idea now. I planted it in an area where mint grew happily, and figured Monarda would like similar conditions.

Positive sparkyann2 On Aug 10, 2004, sparkyann2 from Madison, ME wrote:

We purchased a farm in Maine and to my delight we have beebalm. Just wanted to let those in zone 4 know that my plants are doing well. Colors purple, pink, red and bright red.

Positive woodspirit1 On Jul 24, 2004, woodspirit1 from Lake Toxaway, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have bright lavender ones but don't know its name. I have given some bunches away; you can just grab them by the bottom and pull them up! I love mine and got some red today.

Positive cherishlife On Jun 8, 2004, cherishlife from Pocola, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I've just discovered a wonderfully HUGE stand of wild Monarda Didyma in the field beside my house. I've had so much fun identifying the wild flowers in that field this year. (This is our first year living in this house) I could see that the bumblebees and butterflies loved them.

Positive bayouposte On May 11, 2004, bayouposte from Bossier City, LA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Mine might be considered invasive, but since I love them, I just pot up volunteers, move them to other areas, and give them away. Most people seem to be happy to receive any free plants, and I keep a three tier plant shelf full of anything that I have too much of and when people come over, tell them to help themselves to what they want. Bee balm is always popular.

Positive ZaksGarden On May 10, 2004, ZaksGarden from Winston Salem, NC wrote:

Bee Balm is one of my favorite perennials. I find it does best in sun, or partial sun, however this plant does prefer cosistent soil moisture. It grows about 30-36" tall, and you should space it atleast 18-24" apart. Its striking flowers that bloom in the summer attract butterflies, and even hummingbirds. You should also divide every 2-3 years to control spread.

Neutral Ladyfern On Aug 7, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

"Blue Stocking" is supposedly mildew resistant, but mine had mildew even worse than the "Cambridge Scarlet." And once it's mildewed, the whole plant looks bad. Needs to have something shorter planted in front to hide its bare legs. Cutting back the flowers as soon as they're spent prevents self seeding, gets rid of the ugly leaves, and encourages the plant to put out new flowers. It does really spread, but the roots are shallow, so the volunteers are easily dug up and moved. Different cultivars are different heights, so check to make sure you're getting one that fits your garden.

Positive PurplePansies On Jul 19, 2003, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

(My garden's in the Mid-Atlantic). Cultivars with blossom colors from light pink to purple to fuschia to red. Blossoms stand above fuzzy, greysih/green foliage. Grows about 2 to 4 feet tall. Very easy to grow. Prefers richer, hummusy, somewhat acidic soils, but is tolerant of a variety of soils and conditions. Sun to part to light shade, but avoid scorching sun. Its least favorite thing is probably drought. It can sometimes get mildew in very humid weather, but don't be deterred from growing it for that reason, mildew warnings are greatly exaggerated. My plants have never had mildew. Slightly invasive, don't plant next to the shyest perennials. No bugs or pest problems or diseases. Supposed to have a "Bergamot" smell and flavor, but in the hybrids I've noticed very little. Bees, butterflies, AND hummingbirds LOVE it! Great garden plant!

Positive poppysue On Jan 22, 2003, poppysue from Westbrook, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

Bee balm is one of favorites and a staple in my northern garden. It you're interetsted in attracting wildlife it's a must! When in full bloom the plants just hum with activity. I could sit and watch it for hours.

The foliage is extremely fragrant, and the plants become covered with their shaggy, tubular flowers in mid to late summer. Bee balm is a spreader and will make a clump 4 feet wide. Plants tend to die out from the center so it's best to divide it every few years to keep it vigorous. There are many cultivars available at the garden centers, and it comes in a wide range of colors. Choose one that claims to be mildew resistant and you shouldn't have any problems. It likes sun and adequate moisture but it doesn't seem to be too fussy about the conditions.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Van Buren, Arkansas
Merced, California
Crawford, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Parker, Colorado
Stamford, Connecticut
Townsend, Delaware
Bartow, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Marietta, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Fox River Grove, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Wilmette, Illinois
Cedar Lake, Indiana
Fishers, Indiana
Fountaintown, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Villisca, Iowa
Lansing, Kansas
Benton, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Litchfield, Maine
Madison, Maine
College Park, Maryland
Ellicott City, Maryland
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Linthicum Heights, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Upton, Massachusetts
Mason, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Hopkins, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rosemount, Minnesota
Young America, Minnesota
Scooba, Mississippi
Walnut Grove, Missouri
Roundup, Montana
Omaha, Nebraska
Manchester, New Hampshire
Plainfield, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Deposit, New York
Orchard Park, New York
Patchogue, New York
Penn Yan, New York
Deep Gap, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Tobaccoville, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Page, North Dakota
, Nova Scotia
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Madison, Ohio
Pocola, Oklahoma
Gresham, Oregon
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Roscoe, Pennsylvania
Manning, South Carolina
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Belton, Texas
Colleyville, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Spring, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Waco, Texas
Springfield, Virginia
Woodbridge, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Sumner, Washington
Charleston, West Virginia
Ellsworth, Wisconsin
Marinette, Wisconsin
Mondovi, Wisconsin
Pulaski, Wisconsin
Wittenberg, Wisconsin
Lander, Wyoming

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