Named after a sixteenth-century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicholas Monardes (Labiatae). A small genus of annual and perennial herbs from North America, with fragrant leaves and flowers, related to Salvia. The leaves are nettle-like and the flowers have a spiky appearance and are clustered together in whorls: the colour ranges from white through pink, mauve and purple to red.
Species cultivated M. didyma, bee balm, oswego tea, 2-3 feet, scarlet flowers, sometimes in twin whorls, late summer; cultivators include ‘Adam’, 2-4 feet, cerise ;
‘Beauty of Cobham’, purple leaves, pink flowers ; ‘Cambridge Scarlet’, crimson-scarlet; ‘Croftway Pink’, soft pink; ‘Dark Ponticum’, dark lilac ; ‘Melissa’, soft pink; Pale Ponticum’, lavender; ‘Pillar Box’, bright red; ‘Sunset’, 4 feet, purple-red.
M. fistulosa, wild bergamot, 4-5 feet, purple flowers, summer, not as showy as
M. didyma ; var. violacea (Violacea superba), deep violet-purple. M. menthaefolia, similar to M. fistulosa, with mint-like foliage.
Cultivation Any ordinary garden soil will suit these plants but there must be plenty of moisture and good drainage. They will grow in sun or partial shade. They can be planted in the autumn or spring and need top-dressing. Propagation is by division in February or March, or they can be raised from seed sown out of doors in a semi-shaded position in spring or in boxes placed in the greenhouse or cold frame in March. Seeds germinate easily, but the plants will need rogueing and any drab coloured varieties discarded.
How to Grow Monarda