Well, sort of anyway. It calls out to hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators, the tiniest of critters, with its mint-like scent. It really creates a buzz in the garden attracting pollinators with its nectar rich flowers. Look for the teeny, tiny buzzer in the photo below….
Monarda will make a rather large drift and take up a big area if you let it. It is best sited where it has a lot of room to breathe and grow. I really keep mine in check and it is new to the lily bed, so we will see how neighborly it can stay.
It comes in sizes both big…
We find Monarda in new and interesting colors, ranging from pale pinks to deep reds and dark purples. In the days of my youth and picking wild bee balm, the deep red bee balm is still my favorite, although I love to see all the new colors clustered in gardens, like the pink below.
Monarda didyma or scarlet bee balm, which happens to start out on the pink side, is in my lily bed, shown two photos below in the pink stage.
Monarda is enjoyed by bees so it is best sited away from seating areas, but it has never presented a problem in my tiny yard. The bees get to know the gardener and are very tolerant. A native variety is Monarda fistulosa, or wild Bergamot, is drought tolerant in comparison. It blooms in shades of lavender from June through July.
Bee Balm works well with other players, but will overtake a bed if allowed; unless it is a diminutive variety like this pink, Petite’s Delight, and is situated next to an aster that is a bit of a bully too. It is a long bloomer and can be extended with dead-heading. Deer are not very fond of Monarda either.
It is endemic to North America and has a native range as shown on the USDA map.
It grows best in full sun, like in the lily bed, but I have it in highly composted conditions getting about 3 hours sun also. The more shaded locations will sacrifice some flowering, but also keep it under control. They also bloom later in the season than those in full sun, extending the show. I keep Monarda well watered in dryer times which helps ward off fungus. I have been lucky it has never gotten powdery mildew, even in the crowded locations. But crowding is highly ill-advised. Monarda should be divided every three years to keep it looking neat and tidy.
And I can not leave you with my dull looking Monarda.
Let it not just speak, but scream. Here is the original, left, and the remastered (Photoshop manipulation) on the right. Click to enlarge, it is quite a difference and very cool.
Usually a Green Apples trick and tip, maybe I will show how to make a Lomo photography image some time. It really brings out the crisp detail and shine. The new growth really does shine by the way. A great way to substantially enhance an image (the judges will be none the wiser), unless they know the technique. lol! And who’s to say you did not use a Lomo camera to produce it!
Original and Steely Cool