Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Notable Native Herb: Wild Beebalm

Wild Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
Height: 2-4 ft.
Culture: Sun, tolerates partial shade; good drainage
Flowers: Lavendar or pink in
Leaves: Herbal uses such as tea
Fruits: None
Hardy: Zones 3-9 (Franklin County is Zone 6)
Native - deer resistant - attracts pollinators

Selected by the Herb Society of America, Monarda fistulosa [Mo-NAR-da  fist-yoo-LOW-suh], or Wild Bergamot, is the Notable Native Herb for 2013.

This perennial plant is native to the lower 48 states as well as Canada and is hardy in zones 3-9, although it is a self-seeding annual in the higher zones.

The plant grows 2-4 ft. with lavender or pink flowers atop the stems. Excellent in the middle of a perennial border, its lower green foliage provides attractive background for lower flowers in front. A member of the mint family, it can be aggressive so keep this in mind when picking a site.

It tolerates poor soil, likes sun to partial sun and good drainage plus it’s deer-resistant.  Propagate it through diving clumps in spring or fall, doing root stem cuttings or saving and germinating the seed.

This plant attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds who are drawn to the tubular flower petals. The cut flowers are long lasting in arrangements and the dried leaves and petals are used crafting wreaths, making potpourris and tussie-mussie nosegays.

Unlike the Monarda didyma, or Oswego Tea, plant with its citrus aroma and taste, M. fistulosa tastes like thyme and can be used as a thyme substitute. As a tea, or added to tea, expect a tangy flavor.

Consider adding this Notable Native to your yard or garden this year.

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