Monarda Species, Bee Balm, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea, Firecracker Plant, Bergamot

Monarda didyma

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Monarda (mo-NAR-da) (Info)
Species: didyma (DID-ee-muh) (Info)
Synonym:Monarda coccinea
Synonym:Monarda contorta
Synonym:Monarda kalmiana
Synonym:Monarda oswegoensis
Synonym:Monarda purpurascens
View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:



Magenta (pink-purple)


Scarlet (dark red)


Medium Purple

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

West Yellowstone, 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

Clayton, North Carolina

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

Colver, Pennsylvania

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 11, 2015, ZombiShakespear from Clayton, NC wrote:

I love this plant! It's pretty, fragrant, edible, medicinal, attracts pollinators AND predatory insects that kill the pests, plus really easy to grow (at least where I live). It's great to plant with a vegetable garden and is said to improve the growth and flavor of tomatoes, which I'm about to put to the test this year. I barely do anything to it and it thrives.


On May 7, 2015, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

I have found Monarda to be extremely vigorous in my Zone 7A garden in Petersburg, Virginia. I've got a violet-red, three to four foot strain, and this is its third or fourth year. I thinned it out it last year, and I'm going to have to thin it out again this year, because it's crowding my roses, and may leave no room for the columbine to reseed. I like it, though, and I'm finding spots in the garden where it can be appreciated. I also have pots of it to give away. If the blooms would coincide, it would look good next to a hydrangea. Any hydrangea.
August 2015 update: My extremely vigorous, violet-red monarda reached five and a half feet tall this year, following a colder-than-usual winter. I'm putting it in five gallon pot and sinking them into the border, to try to keep them ... read more


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.


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.


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...


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!


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.


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 usuall... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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, butterfl... read more


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.