Scarlet Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea
Synonyms of Monarda didyma (8) (Updated on 1-2-23 from Plants of the World Online): Monarda coccinea Michx., Monarda contorta C.Morren, Monarda didyma var. angustifolia Torr., Monarda didynama Stokes, Monarda kalmiana Pursh, Monarda oswegoensis W.P.C.Barton, Monarda purpurascens Wender., Monarda purpurea Lam.
Monarda didyma L. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Monarda. Both the genus and species were named and described by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-2-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 22 species in the Monarda genus. It is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae with 232 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
THERE ARE A FEW LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
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 do 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 its leaves on bee stings. It is also known as Bergamot, Oswego Tea, Firecracker Plant, and probably others.
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.
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…
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.
Well, even though this plant did well over the summer in 2017, it did not return in 2018… Maybe I can find another one (or more) when the garden club has a plant sale in the future.
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.