Bee Balm, also known as Monarda Didyma, Bergamot, and Oswego Tea, is a common native wildflower in North America, and one of my favorite perennials. Monarda is easy to care for, just plant young plants in sandy well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade.
Bee Balm spreads easily by sending out rhyzomes, and can spread up to a foot a season. This makes them an excellent candidate for naturalizing in wildflower gardens, and meadows. Since the roots are not deep, Monarda is easy to contain, any plants popping up where they do not belong can be removed, and given to friends, or (gasp!) added to the compost pile.
Bee Balm is excellent for attracting wildlife to your meadow or garden. Hummingbirds and butterflies love Bee Balm, and it gets its name because it reportedly soothes bees. The flowers are fragrant, and come in a variety of colors, including red, white, pink, purple, and lavender. Monarda Didyma blooms from late June to August depending on location.
These flowers are also called Oswego Tea, because they make an excellent, fragrant herbal tea. The main disease Bee Balm is susceptible to is powdery mildew, which will occur in some varieties if the summer is hot and humid or damp.