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Buy Monarda - Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea
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Hard perennial - Flowers June to August
Monarda didyma, bee balm or bergamot is a clump-forming rhizomatous perennial native to North America. They will grow in full sun or dappled shade, the long-lasting flowers are popular with bees hence their common name.
They are generally tolerant of conditions, and should do well on heavy clay soils, though they don't like winter wet. Slugs can be a problem in spring and powdery mildew in hot and dry summers. They will produce large amounts of flowers that reach about 36 inches in height, plants will spread by about half this amount.
Monarda is edible with a sweet/spicy flavor and aroma. Whole leaves and flowers can be used as a salad garnish, or they can chopped and added to a fruit salad.
Leaves can also be dried and used in potpourri or tea, Earl Grey tea is flowered with oil of Bergamot. Gather 8-10 stems with a rubber band at the cut end and hang upside down until crisp to the touch. Crush and store in airtight containers out of direct sunlight. To make a cup of tea, place 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried Monarda in a tea strainer or teaspoon and add 1 cup of boiling water. Brew for 10 minutes and enjoy!
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