Bee Balm Monarda for the South
Oswego Tea, Bergamot, Scarlet Bee Balm
Monardas are perennial wildflowers and are members of the mint family (note the square stem) so they are considered an herb. All parts of the plant are aromatic. Butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators are attracted to the nectar rich flowers. The Monarda family has been used as a medicinal herb since the early Native Americans.Monarda photos by Y.L. Bordelon All Rights Reserved
The Monarda species is a native herb that contains many beautiful and easy to grow perennial flowers.
The Monarda family is filled with lovely flowering plants that are also aromatic herbs. Many have been used in herbal medicine for years by Native Americans. They make delightful tasting teas and are also used in potpourris. Most Monardas bloom in the spring, but a few, like Spotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata) bloom in the late summer and fall. Wildlife including hummingbirds and butterflies use the flowers. Most are easy to grow and spread by thin rhizome like roots or seeds.
Oswego Tea, Bee Balm
Oswego Tea, Bee Balm, Scarlett Bee balm, Red Bergamot, Monarda didyma
Two to four feet tall plants display balls of red flowers in late spring to early fall. Aromatic leaves and fruit can be brewed into a delightful tasting tea. In fact history says that this was the tea that many colonist enjoyed after the Boston Tea Party. The crushed leaves are supposed to help alleviate the pain of bee stings. Monarda didyma performs better in the upper regions of the coastal south.
Bee Balm Print on Zazzle
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M. didyma prefers acid, moist soil. It's native habitat is rich woods, stream banks and meadows. In the deep, coastal south, Scarlet Bee Balm doesn't bloom well. In fact, our hot humid summers will often kill it altogether, but in the cooler areas of the south it is hardy and gorgeous.
Propagate by root division or seeds.
Herb Garden Series - Bergamot on Zazzle
History and Medicinal Uses
Herb Garden Series - Bergamot print by Spice can be purchased on Zazzle.com.
One of the names of Monarda didyma, Oswego Tea, came from the Oswego Indians who taught the colonists how to use the herb after the Boston Tea Party (1773) and the resulting Blockade.
This native herb has long been used as a medicinal plant by many Native Americans. The Blackfeet used this plant as an antiseptic in poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from M. didyma was used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental problems and gingivitis. Bee Balm contains Thymol, which is the primary active ingredient in many commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago also used Bee Balm tea as a general stimulant. It was also used by many Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence.
Scarlet Bee Balm Seeds
Wild Bee Balm, Bergamot
Bergamot, Bee Balm Monarda fistulosa
Monarda fistulosa is well suited for the southern United States. It is a perennial plant that grows 2 to 4 feet (sometimes 6 feet) tall with pink, white to purple ball shaped blossoms in late spring to early to mid summer. As with M. didyma, all parts of the plants are aromatic and make good tasting tea, either alone or in combination with other herbs. It is also said to draw out bee stings. Unlike M. didyma, M. fistulosa will bloom consistently in the coastal south.
Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa Print on Zazzle
How to Grow
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M. fistulosa is a hardy, easy to grow perennial and is happy in full sun to part shade. It prefers rich soil, but acid soil, poor sand or clay is okay. Soil that is moist to dry is fine and it will even tolerate some wetness in the winter.
Propagation: The rhizomes of M. fistulosa often colonize, so they can be propagated by root division, seed or by cuttings.
The Native Americans used Monarda fistulosa in much the same way as they used Monarda didyma, to treat colds and the flu.
Hummingbird Moth Postcard on Zazzle
Hummingbird Moth Postcard by naturegirl7 can be purchased on Zazzle.com. Check out more Monarda prints and products below.
Wild Bergamot Bee Balm Seeds
Spotted Horsemint - Monarda punctata print on Zazzle
Buy Spotted Horsemint, M. punctata print by naturegirl7 on Zazzle.com.
Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata
The unusual creamy yellow blooms with purple spots of M. punctata are butterfly magnets. This drought tolerant, short lived perennial grows to about 3 feet tall so the plants are good additions to the rear of a border. It prefers full sun (to part shade in the lower south) and well drained sandy soil of average fertility. it tolerates salt spray, so it can be grown by the seashore. It is perfect for the back of a flower border, a butterfly garden or a natural meadow area.
Propagate by root division, but it is easier by seed.
History and Medicinal Use
Like the other members of the Monarda family, Horsemint contains Thymol, an effective natural fungicide and bactericide. A tea made from its leaves was used by Native Americans to treat colds, flu and fever. It increases sweating. It was also used to expel hookworms.
Monarda punctata pdf fact sheet from U. Florida
Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata Print on Zazzle
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Hummingbird Moth Mug
Monarda on Zazzle
See More Zazzle Designs at Naturally Native Creations
Go Green with Natives Bumper Sticker on Zazzle
Spotted Horsemint Postage
Weeds of the South Book
Another great book from Wormsloe Foundation featuring "weeds" of the south. One man's weeds are another man's wildflowers. You'll find many beautiful wildflowers in this colorful and informative book. Be sure to check out other wildflower books from Wormsloe Foundation.
Hummingbird Moths and other pollinators often visit Monarda flowers to drink the sweet nectar.
Hummer Moth on Bergamot - Zazzle
Buy Hummer Moth Postcard by naturegirl7 on Zazzle.com
Links to More Louisiana Wildflowers
- Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower
Beautiful native Indian pink deserves a place in any garden. It attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a joy to behold.
- Native Cardinal Flower and Other Lobelias
Native Lobelias including Cardinal flower, great blue and pale Lobelias are colorful additions to late summer and fall gardens. Here you will find photos and information about these perennial plants.
- 15 Easy to Grow Southern Wildflowers
This page features 15 native perennial flowering plants complete with photographs of and information plus links to more about each. These beauties will thrive in the hot, humid South.
© 2009 Yvonne L B