Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata) Quick Facts
Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata) is a nectar plant to many butterflies, including Monarchs and Swallowtails
Native to Eastern, Central, and Southwest US
Perennial, hardy in USDA zones 3-9
Full to partial sun
Well-drained, sandy soil
Medium-dry to dry moisture
Pale purple to pink flowers bloom summer through fall
Grows to about 2 ft. tall
Space 8-12 in. apart
Drought tolerant once established
Deer and rabbit resistant
Eye-catching pinkish/purplish bracts are crowned by cream-colored corollas which are further accented by maroon microdots. This elegant pairing of bracts and blooms whirls its way around much of the length of a sturdy, slender stem. This is definitely one of the wildflowers for which the term “showy” was invented! Flowering begins in very late spring, at the earliest, and the plant provides nectar for weeks. Pinch off spent blossoms for maximum bloom time.
This variety of Bee Balm is especially suited for “surface of the sun” climates. Drought? This is one of the most drought-tolerant wildflowers out there! All-day full sun and temps that are hot, hot, hot? The more sun exposure, the taller and showier the flowers! Sandy soil, dry roadside dirt, even a rock garden can all nurture Spotted Bee Balm–the plant’s only non-negotiable soil requirement is that the dirt be well-draining.
The long, thin leaves are aromatic. The pleasant scent is similar to oregano or thyme, and helps keep deer and rabbits away. This Bee Balm variety does not spread by rhizomes, and so is not considered problematically invasive. It self-seeds readily, but is also easily controlled. It will grow in containers that are at least the 5-gallon size or larger.
More Buzz about Bee Balm
Honeybees, native bees, and bumble bees love to buzz about Spotted Bee Balm. And butterflies can’t keep away either! Summer Azures, Painted Ladies, Fritillaries, Whites, Sulphurs, and Swallowtails all love a little sip of Bee Balm elixir, and Spotted Bee Balm is the favorite nectar source of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. The plant almost always blooms in its first year, so no waiting for a plethora of pollinators to come indulge in some of the most popular nectar around!
Spotted Bee Balm is tall–about 3 feet tall, in most cases. It is a natural at the back of a garden bed or along a fence line. Try it with Foxglove Beardtongue, Purple Coneflower, Lance-Leaf Coreopsis, or Button Blazing Star. It plays well with almost any plants that also thrive in well-drained soil, but tends not to thrive when placed near flowers that are taller. (This means you, Sunflower!)
“And the winner is…”
Beautiful blooms. Irresistible, long-lasting nectar. Easy growing. Water-saving. No wonder the Georgia Native Plant Society awarded Spotted Bee Balm the 2023 Plant of the Year award! Order yours today from Joyful Butterfly, where we pledge that all our plants and seeds are safe for all pollinators–always!