Monarda didyma, often called bee balm, is a long-flowering plant that is attractive to bees (hence the common name) butterflies, and hummingbirds. Easy to grow in sun or partial shade, Monarda spreads happily for me among phlox, asters, and sedums. Some gardeners find it invasive, but I have found simply cutting it back where I don’t want the plants is sufficient to keep Monarda in line. Of course, your mileage may differ.
Right now, red Monarda is blooming in my garden but I also have patches of deep garnet and coral colored Monarda that have yet to bloom in other spots. This Monarda is in the early stages when the petals, still furled, look like a luscious red spider sitting inside its prickly web. And here’s a double-decker bloom, because you can’t have enough of a good thing, right?Note the unfurling “legs” of the spider on the bottom. Here’s the fully unfurled bloom. Monarda blooms are great because they’re long-lasting and have an interesting structure once they’re bloomed out. So if one of your summer goals, as it is for me, is to provide something for the bees and birds, try a patch of Scarlett Beebalm in your garden. You’ll be glad you did.