Monarda didyma, pronounced mo-NAR-duh DID-ee-muh, is a square-stemmed perennial that has brightly-coloured, narrow, two-lipped, tubular flowers that form tiers around the stems. The shaggy, outwardly coiled blossoms resemble a beautiful spider or a “Raggedy Ann” doll’s hair. Hummingbirds are attracted to the plant for its delectable nectar.
Monardas are members of the mint family with relatives that include: coleus, lavender, rosemary and sage. They are easily recognized by their square stems and fragrant foliage. Most Monardas are native to the Mediterranean and North America.
Monarda is named for Nicolas Monardes (1493-1588), a Spanish botanist and physician. He wrote about this plant in 1569 and called it “bergamot” because the foliage scent is similar to the Italian bergamot orange, a source of oil used in cosmetics. The species name didyma means “in pairs,” referring to the stamens, the male part of flowers where pollen forms.
Monardas also go by these common names:
- bee balm, because bumblebees love it
- Indian’s plume
- red balm
Care for Cut Flower
- Monardas may need a warm room temperatures to open.
- Cut the ends and hydrate them in flower food solution, once harvested.
- Monardas are heavy drinkers; top the vase with water frequently.
They are field-grown flowers and are available from June through the summer months from domestic and Dutch growers.
Monardas are available in:
- deep red
Monardas do best in vase arrangements because of the amount of water they need.
- If floral foam is used, ensure there is plenty of water in the containers at all times.
- The spiky petals will add texture and contrast to any arrangement.
- The range of colours can enhance any arrangement, making the bloom very versatile.
- As a cut flower, monardas can last up to nine days.
- The stems and bracts can dry to form seed pods, which can be saved to be used in dried arrangements.