Brillant beautiful Monarda lands in many places in my gardens as a favorite perennial. This easy to care for perennial has a lot going for it! Besides its easy care, it attracts nectar seeking hummingbirds, butterflies, honey bees and the humble bumble bee.
Monarda is commonly known as bee balm, but is also known as wild bergamot, bergamot mint, horsemint, wild oregano and Oswego tea. It comes in an array of pink, red, white and purple colors and some even have double-flowers.
Monarda is not to persnickety in our garden, but in hot climates light shade keeps the leaves from burning out and it does best if it isn’t allowed to dry out the first year while establishing its root system. Most Monarda varieties seem to adapt to most soil conditions, but bloom better in well-drained rich soil. Prepare planting site by loosening soil to the depth of 12-15 inches with a digging fork, then add a 2 to 4 inch layer of compost. Each spring add a new layer of compost to retain moisture. Remove spent flowers to keep plants looking tidy. After frost arrives in fall or winter, plants will die back to the ground and it’s time to cut back to one or two inches above soil line. Plants can be divided in early spring to keep them looking healthy and the bonus…More plants!
My favorite herb garden has a nice clump of Monarda of various sizes and colors. I suggest a chair nearby to take a few minutes and enjoy the bumblebees and other flying friends that come and visit! Now if that doesn’t relax you, I don’t know what would!
Monarda isn’t just for looks though, it’s a fabulous remedy for a sore throat. Harvest a handful of leaves and flowers and let them wilt. Once they have wilted (12 hours will work), infuse/submerge them into some local raw honey and let them sit for at least 4 weeks. Strain out the plant material after the four weeks and transfer honey into a dry bottle and label. Take 1-2 teaspoons as needed for sore throats and coughs.