University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - August 1999

Monarda 'Jacob Cline'

(mo-nar' dah)

Common name: Beebalm, Oswego Tea, Monarda, Bergamot, Horsemint

Family: Lamiaceae, Mint

Height x width: 4' tall x 3' wide

Growth rate: moderate to fast

Foliage: opposite, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 4-6" long, serrate margins, smooth (glabrous) to hairy (villous-hirsute), distinctive scent to bruised leaves, 4-angled stem characteristic of family, thicker than most related cultivars

Flowers: scarlet red; 2-3" tubular flowers in dense terminal whorls either in one or two layers, to 4" across; mid to late summer

Hardiness: zones 3-9

Soil: tolerates most, prefers moist

Light: sun, spreads faster in shade

Pests and Problems: said to be resistant to powdery mildew and rust

Landscape habit, uses: borders, naturalized, bees and hummingbirds; aggressive habit especially in South

Other interest: genus native to eastern N. America; genus named for Nicolas Monardes, a 16th century Spanish botanist; name Oswego Tea is from early explorer John Bartram who found settlers near Oswego, NY using leaves for a tea (it is still used in Earl Grey tea); name Beebalm is from its attractiveness to bees; this cultivar selected by plantsman Don Cline, likely a cross of didyma and fistulosa species; more mildew resistant, taller, more vigorous and larger flowers than other cultivars, has been described as a bee balm on steroids

Other culture: division usually needed every 3 years as centers die out and to prevent excessive spread; allow air circulation and provide sufficient moisture to reduce mildew; remove spent flowers for prolonged bloom

Propagation: division of clumps in spring is most common for cultivars, also possible from seed for species and cuttings (softwood and root)

Sources: Sunny Border Nurseries, Kensington, CT (wholesale); check your local garden stores, and online catalogs as well

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