Bee Balm

1 entry found.
Bee Balm
Common Name: Bee Balm, Bergamot, Monarda
Botanical Name: Monarda didyma (mo-NAR-da DID-i-ma)
Decorative Life: About 5-9 days.
Post Harvest Care:
  • Remove bottom leaves if present, recut stems under water and place into a fresh flower food solution is one common recommendation. However, flower food can sometimes cause leaf discoloration/damage and therefore is not recommended by some researchers. On the other hand, flower foods improve flower color.
  • Even after flowers abscise, the remaining colored bracts still look attractive.
Harvest Instructions: Often spreads in the garden setting with the center portion decreasing in flower productivity over the years.
Family Roots:
  • Member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae (mint family).
  • Native to the Eastern US.
  • Its square-stemmed relatives include coleus, lavender, rosemary and sage.
  • Flowers are narrow and 2-lipped, in shaggy, crowded rounded clusters at stem ends that are surrounded by colored bracts.
  • Stems are square, leafy, up to 24 inches long.
  • Plant is a herbaceous perennial, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Has herbal, aromatic foliage.
Availability: Summer.
Flower Color: Red, purple, pink.
Storage Specifics: 36-41 F but not recommended.
  • Named for Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), Spanish botanist and physician. He wrote of this plant in 1569 and called it bergamot because the foliage scent is similar to the Italian bergamot orange, source of oil used in cosmetics.
  • Monarda was a tea substitute in New England and New York after the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Another common name is Oswego Tea, named after Oswego, NY. The tea is said to relieve nausea and insomnia. When placed in boiling water, a yellowish, pleasant tea is produced. Bees love this flower which also explains another common name, Bee Balm.
  • The specific epithet name didyma means in pairs, in reference to the stamens, the male part of flowers where pollen forms.
  • Family members are easily recognized by their square stems. Many family members are important for volatile oils used in the perfume industry.
  • According to Creasy (1999), petals are edible. Can be used in teas, salads, jellies and over fish.