Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Purple Monarda August 25, 2008

I’ve never had huge success growing Monarda didyma (Bee balm/bergamot), due to powdery mildew, so I stopped trying for a few years. It comes in a nice variety of colors, from bright red to purple to hot pink to white, and attracts both bees and butterflies, so it seems like a worthy plant if your conditions favor it. My mom grew this interesting dusky mauve color from seed this year so I took her leftovers. So far it seems to be doing okay, and maybe if I get around to dead-heading it, it will continue to bloom into the fall. (The rust spots in the photo are on weedy aster leaves, not the monarda.)

Purple Monarda

This member of the mint family has a strong, distinctive scent and flavor that has been used medicinally by Native American peoples and herbalists. For recipes, click here. You can also harvest young leaves and use them as you would basil, in egg dishes and salads.

(A previous version of this post erroneously mentioned that the Monarda bergamot provides the flavor for Earl Grey tea. I’m sorry for the incorrect information – it’s actually an oil that is derived from the bergamot orange, Citrus aurantium spp. bergamia. The tea made from Monarda is sometimes called Oswego Tea. My mistake!)


2 Responses to “Purple Monarda”

  1. Nancy Bond Says:

    I didn’t know the connection between Earl Grey tea and bee balm! Interesting.

  2. greenwalks Says:

    Nancy –

    I have just revised this post to reflect the fact that there is actually no connection between Bee balm and Earl Grey, beyond the bergamot name and tea usage of both. Sorry for the confusion!

    – Karen

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