Mt Cuba Center
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Trial Garden

Monarda punctata

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Gardeners are most familiar with Monarda that has one flower head at the top of each stem. However, Monarda punctata has stacked inflorescences with large, leafy bracts that radiate out from the stem, just below each flower head. These bracts can vary in color from light pink to white and provide ornamental interest for much longer that the actual flowers. The flowers are yellow with brown spots and only visible up close. These flowers are incredibly popular with pollinators, especially wasp species. As such, M. punctata, is a great plant for attracting beneficial predatory wasps to the garden to control things like grubs and pest caterpillars. Unfortunately, this species tends to look very poor late in the season, with significant yellowing of the leaves and subsequent defoliation. To be fair, many bee balms do this after flowering, and it may just be that Monarda punctata needs more selection work to find better-performing clones. While this species is discussed as being everything from annual to completely perennial, we observed our plants to be reliably perennial in our garden, though that may not be the case in every soil. This species is typically found in sandy soils with excellent drainage, and while our soil is a not sandy, but rather a clay-loam, it does have excellent drainage.


  • Rating
  • Common Name
    dotted bee balm  
  • Peak Bloom
  • Flower Size
    2.5” wide (stacked flowers) 
  • Peak flower coverage
  • Weeks in full bloom
  • Height
  • Width after three years
  • Powdery mildew resistance