Scarlet Monarda

Scarlet Monarda

Its botanical name, monarda was given after the Spanish medical botanist, Dr. Nicholas Monardes of Seville, who described wild bergamot in his work, American Floras, in 1571. Monardes probably called Monarda, bergamot because the leaf fragrance resembles Italian bergamot. John Bartram of Philadelphia was instrumental in introducing the plant into England. He collected seed near Oswego, New York and sent them to Peter Collinson. Collinson named the plant "Oswego tea" after it bloomed in his garden in 1745. The other common name, bee balm, came about when people used the flowers to make it into a poultice, taking the sting out of bee stings. The poultice was used for other skin disorders, too.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones: 4-9

  • Height: 3 feet

  • Width: 18 inches

  • Flowering period: July

  • Flowering attributes: Cool toned, red flowers with brown-red calyces

  • Leaf attributes: Minty fragrance, dark green leaves

  • Growth habit: Clump forming

  • Light: Full sun to partial shade

  • Soil: Humus rich, moist, well-drained soil

  • Pests and Diseases: Very susceptible to powdery mildew

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Information source: University of Missouri - Horticulture

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