Bee Balm (Monarda) Plant's Many Uses with 7 Photos
Bee Balm in the Garden
Easy to Grow
Monarda, commonly known as bee balm, is a joy to grow. First, it is a perrennial, which means you plant it once and let it return and propagate as it will. Next, it tolerates partial sun and dry-ish soil. This is not a fussy flower. If you deadhead it, you'll have the bonus of another set of blooms.
I find it dramatic and gorgeous.
Deadhead for Second Blooming
As you brush the leaves on the plant, it releases the Bergamot oil fragrance. This is the same fragrance in Earl Grey tea. I love it.
Edible Leaves and Flowers
Eye Candy and Belly Filler
When it comes to ingesting plants not normally found in the grocery store or farmers' market, I am a chicken. Or, shall we say prudently cautious? In any case, I have eaten the leaves and flowers of fresh Monarda as salad ingredients and lived to report it. :D The photo above also includes smaller, darker leaves of spearmint from our garden and store-bought baby spinach leaves. The very large leaves and red bits are from bee balm. Supposedly everything above the ground on bee balm is edible for humans, but I am not interested in trying the stem.
Drying for Tea or Sachets
The uses of Bee Balm abound. Dried, crushed leaves are part of the notable Earl Grey tea. Alternatively, history texts indicate that native Americans and colonists used these leaves alone for tea. The dried leaves can also be used in pot pourris or sachets. Additionally, many claim that dried Monarda has medicinal properties, but i am not qualified to comment on that aspect.
In eastern Pennsylvania, this flower is considered to be ecologically sound. It provides nectar for bees and butterflies, so it makes the "A" list for gardens.
If you have a square foot or so of space which cries out for sprucing, I suggest you try Bee Balm. After the initial investment (very reasonable) and planting, it's a breeze!
Monarda for all
- Front Yard Vegetable Flower Combo Garden
If you enjoyed the Bee Balm hub, you may like this account of mixing flowers and vegetables every which way.
Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan