Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This member of the Mint family, native to eastern North America, grows in dense clusters along creeks and banks, as well as in thickets and woods.  Prized by humans as an aromatic herb, its distinctive ragged red flowers are attractive to a variety of garden pollinators, especially when massed.

Print Version: Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea

Monarda didyma, Scarlet Beebalm, Oswego Tea Perennial Height: 2–4 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Red Characteristics Aromatic, clump-forming, herbaceous perennial Opposite, oval, dark green leaves with reddish veins with minty aroma on square, slightly hairy stems Showy, bright red, tubular flowers with reddish bracts clustered in two-inch terminal heads from May to July (or September if deadheaded) Can colonize by rhizomes and seed Attributes Tolerates clay soil, wet soil, Black Walnut, and rabbits; intolerant of dry soil; powdery mildew can be a serious problem Deer seldom severely damage Ethnobotanical uses; source of antiseptic thymol, ingredients for tea (dried leaves and flower heads), and salad flavoring (fresh leaves); fit for fresh and dried flower arrangements and potpourri Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Prevent powdery mildew with good air circulation; remove mildew stems at base and place in trash Divide every three years to keep within bounds Use in herb, butterfly, native flower & rain gardens Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-9 Excellent Replacement for Lychnis chalcedonica - Maltese Cross
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets