Monarda didyma-Scarlet Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea

Monarda didyma (Bee Balm) after I brought it home on 5-20-17, #331-13.

Scarlet Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea

Monarda didyma

mo-NAR-da  DID-ee-muh

Monarda didyma L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Monarda. It was named described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

Plants of the World Online lists 22 accepted species in the genus Monarda. It is one of 237 accepted genera in the Lamiaceae Family.


Bud on the Monarda didyma on 5-26-17, #334-26.

I found this Monarda from the local garden club plant sale in 2017. I asked this one lady what species of Monarda it was and she said she would get the one who brought them. She told the lady I wanted to know the name of the plant. The lady who brought them came up to me and asked me what I wanted to know. I asked her what species of Monarda it was and she said it was bee balm… SO, for a long time, I didn’t know what species it was or anything. You know how that drives me nuts!

It only took going to the Missouri Botanical Garden website to figure it out which I didn’t to until I started writing this page. I just went to their Plant Finder and did a search for Monarda. There are 24 species and cultivars listed but several have no photos, including Monarda didyma but the description says they produce red flowers and grow up to 48″ tall. I read their description then I did a search about Monarda didyma on the internet.

It gets the common name Bee Balm for the use of it’sleaves on bee stings. It is also known as Bergamot, Oswego Tea, Firecracker Plant and probably others.


Monarda didyma flower on 6-5-17, #341-10.

This plant grew fairly tall, so I knew it probably wasn’t a cultivar since they usually grow much smaller. Of all the species of Monarda, there are only two main species that are usually grown in gardens and that there are cultivars from. Monarda didyma and Monarda fistulosa. There are several species of Monarda that are native to Missouri, but only one that I have found so far that produce red flowers. The others are pink and lavender shades. We have many Monarda fistulosa growing on the farm…

While Monarda fistulosa is very drought tolerant, Monarda didyma prefers moist soil and is generally found growing along streams and in bottomlands. I will have to remember that if this plant returns this spring.


Monarda didyma flowers on 6-11-17, #343-33.

I always liked the flowers of the Monarda, especially the red. My brother had several Monarda at his home in Minnesota, but they were lavender…


Monarda didyma  flower on 6-18-17, #345-40.


Family: Lamiaceae
Origin: Parts of North America
Zones: USDA Zones 4a-9b (-30 to 25° F)
Size: 18-48” tall
Light: Sun to light shade
Soil: Average, well-drained soil
Water: Average water needs to slightly moist
This species of Monarda prefers soil somewhat on the damp side. The species M. fistulosa prefers the dry side.


New Monarda didyma. shoots on 8-20-17, #367-19.

Hopefully, my Monarda didyma will return this spring so I can add more photos and information. If not, maybe there will be more at the garden clubs plant sale this spring. Now I can tell the lady the species is Monarda didyma

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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