Bee balm is an herbaceous perennial in the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Native to the North Carolina mountains, it may be seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway flowering during the summer months. Common names include bergamot, bee balm, horsemint, and oswego tea.
Several species, including Monarda fistulosa and M. didyma, have a long history of use as medicinal plants by many Native Americans, such as the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa and Winnebago. The Blackfoot recognized the strong antiseptic action of the plants, and used them in poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. Native Americans and later settlers also used it to alleviate stomach and bronchial ailments. A tisane made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee balm is a natural source of the antiseptic compound thymol, the primary active ingredient in some modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a bee balm tisane as a general stimulant. Bee balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to prevent excessive flatulence.Although somewhat bitter due to the thymol content in the leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation. Best planted in the spring or fall, bee balm plants will produce clusters of scarlet, pink, or purple tubular flowers in mid to late summer. The distinctive "spiky hairdo" blooms are among their chief selling points, along with the plants' ability to attract a variety of wildlife to the garden landscape (among them, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds). Plus, if you're looking for a pick that imparts long-lasting color to your garden, bee balm may just be it—the plants are long-blooming perennials that grow quickly and can reach up to three feet or more in height In addition to the bee balm's employment for aesthetic purposes in the landscape, it is also an edible herb. Its flowers are used to garnish and flavor salads and other dishes, and it can be dried and used to make a spicy-sweet herbal tea. Medicinally, it can also be used to treat rashes and other skin irritations and can be made into a balm to treat bee stings (thus the primary common name). Hummingbirds and butterflies also like red bee balm, and it is commonly grown to attract bees, which help pollinate other nearby plants.
Bee balm is susceptible to powdery mildew (a fungus that thrives in wet conditions), especially in late summer, when rain and humidity team together and can cause issues for the dense plants. If your plants succumb to powdery mildew after you have enjoyed the flowers for a while, it may be best to trim them back to the ground and properly dispose of the cut growth. Alternatively, if your bee balm plants come down with powdery mildew too early, and cutting the plants down is out of the question, try spraying with a solution that is three parts water to one part milk.Vegetable Garden and Pollinator Plants Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden Davidson County Demo Garden Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Foundation Planting- West Side of House Pollinator Garden- Partial Shade Border Landscape Pinewild County Club, Moore County Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Foundation Planting- West Side of House Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Pollinator Garden- Full Sun Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden Bee Hive Garden, Wake Co Pond Garden Bee Hive Garden, Wake Co Wildlife Garden- Bird Sanctuary#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#perennials#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#yellow flowers#native perennials#nectar plant#fall interest#rabbit resistant#specialized bees#cpp#fire medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#native garden#playground plant#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#flowers late spring#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#wet soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#HS302#pollinator garden#bee friendly#black walnut toxicity tolerant#Audubon#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden (Source plants.ces.ncsu.edu