Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)



The scarlet blooms look like bursts of fireworks in the sky. Bees love it. Hence the name Bee balm.

Bee Balm grows in a isolated part of my garden. It is what I call a ‘runner’. It spreads rapidly in moist soils. I planted in garden bed with barriers of cobblestones and cement. If you plant this plant in moist soil except it to run and take over the area.

I have it planted in dry soil and it doesn’t take over. The periodic summer droughts of Philadelphia also keep it in check.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma). A purple variety.
Monarda didyma, A purple variety.

How to Grow Monard Didyma

It is easy to grow from seed and easy to divide. The plant will spread and take over less vigorous plants when plant in its ideal habitat, moist soil. The plant is susceptible to powdery mildew.

Plant seedlings in a sunny, weed-free well-drained soil, one and one-half to two feet apart. Water, until rains come. Once established Bee balm still benefits from extra watering during dry summers.


bee balm_monarda didyma
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma). Photo by Donna L. Long.

Bee Balm Quick Facts

Common name: Bee Balm, Scarlet Bee Balm, Oswego Tea, Bergamot

Scientific name: Monarda didyma

Family name: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Attracts: Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds sip the nectar’ Fritillary butterflies are particularly draw to the nectar.

Native range: Monarda didyma is found in upland woods, thickets, and prairies from Quebec to Manitoba and British Columbia south to Georgia, Louisiana, and Arizona.

Habitat: moist soil, moist open upland woods, thickets, and meadows, stream banks, mountains to 6500 feet

Height: 36 to 48 inches tall

Light needed: partial sun to partial shade

Hardiness zones: 3 to 9

Bloom period: from June to September, deadhead to re-bloom

Bloom color: scarlet; cultivars of different colors have been breed


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