Perennial of the Year 2021 – Monarda

Thu. Jan. 14, 2021

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Perennial of the Year 2021 – Monarda

The national Garden Bureau has selected Monarda as the Plant of the Year for 2021. To be honest I thought, REALLY? It’s prone to powdery mildew and can get leggy. Well, I had another think coming.

Monarda, grasses

Also known as BeeBalm, this plant has been used medically for centuries. It’s nickname is beebalm, and not just because it is a bee attractor but it’s also a balm for bee stings. How handy for those of us growing it. The flowers are really fun and beautiful, the leaves have a fantastic scent that have been used to brew tea, again, for a very long time!

Monarda fistulosa, or wild Bergamot, is one of the species commonly used for medicinal purposes.

native Monarda aka wild bergamot

Monarda ‘didyma’ was primarily used for tea. Many of the plants now are hybrids of the two.

Monarda ‘Pardon my Pink’ by Proven Winners

Both species grow well in full sun or partial to light shade and are adaptable to a variety of soils. Monarda didyma prefers rich, moist soils for best growth. However, many commonly grown cultivars are often more tolerant of drier soils because of hybridizing.

‘Garden View Scarlet’ is a great selection that is less likely to get powdery mildew. Butterflies and hummingbirds also love it! Looking like starbursts or firecrackers, these 2-inch blooms are held straight up above mint-scented foliage on bushy, beautiful plants. It will begin flowering in midsummer and continue until the colder weather of early fall. This plant grows to 3 ft. with a 2 ft. spread.

‘Gardenview Scarlet’

Check out ‘Sugar Buzz Grape Gumball’, this variety forms a dense mound of magenta-purple flowers on well branched, strong stems, over lush dark green foliage that has an excellent resistance to powdery mildew; great for massing along borders.

‘Sugar Buzz Grape Gumball’