July 24, 2013

A couple of wild Monardas

fistulosaborder

If you'd like to add a bit of pastel lavender whimsy to your garden, two species of Monardas might be just what you're looking for. Neither are currently in my garden--all of these captures are from the wild. But I think you'll agree they're definitely garden-worthy.

fistulosa1

Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa), is prized for its color, sweet scent, and attractiveness to pollinators. Named a 2013 "notable native" by the Herb Society of America, Wild Bergamot is native to most of North America.

Other nicknames include Purple Bee Balm, Horsemint, and Oswego Tea. Wild Bergamot has a slight Citrusy scent, and is used in the flavoring of Earl Gray Tea.

fistulosarudbeckia

It makes a great companion for golden Rudbeckias, Helianthuses, and Silphiums--all of which I saw blooming alongside or near it while capturing these photos.

fistulosamacro

I think the whimsical form of all the Bee Balms, including this one, makes them especially fun. They're great additions to butterfly, hummingbird, and rain gardens. Wild Bergamot is hardy in USDA zones 3-9, it prefers full to partial sun and dry to moderate moisture. It reaches heights of 2-4 feet, and grows best in well-drained loam, sand, or clay, but it will tolerate poor soils, according to the Herb Society of America.

punctata2

Another Monarda I wasn't familiar with until recently is Spotted Horsemint (M. punctata). Other nicknames include Spotted Bee Balm and Dotted Mint. Although also native to most of North America, it appears to be less common in my state, based on various sources, including UW-Stevens Point's Freckmann Herbarium.

punctata1

While closely related, these two Monardas are distinctly different in appearance except for their foliage form and pastel color. If you happen across M. punctata in the wild before it flowers, you might not notice it among thick blades of grass.

punctatawhite

Here's a shot of it in the bud stage, before adding its unique lavender-tinted bracts and spotted blooms.

punctata3

Spotted Horsemint reminds me of a Pineapple plant in its growth form. It also is hardy in USDA zones 3-9, has a sweet scent, and prefers full to partial sun and dry to moderate moisture. Slightly lower-growing (1-3 feet tall) than Wild Bergamot, Spotted Horsemint prefers sandy, well-drained soil--which is where I found it.

punctatamacro

But the truly fun part about this wild Monarda can only be appreciated up close--its spotted, Orchid-like blooms.

I'm linking this post to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday, over at Clay and Limestone.

48 comments:

  1. My Monarda just started blooming this week, both the wild natives and my red ones. They look nice and the bees are loving them already. JC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they really look nice in mass plantings. I had some in a previous garden and really enjoyed them. I like to watch bees find their way into the blooms!

      Delete
  2. I love Monardas and brushing up against the foliage when I'm weeding. Such a lovely fragrance. The flowers are pretty nice, too! I've never seen horsemint in the wild, would love to have it in my garden, but, there's not a bit of sandy soil here abouts! You are spot-on! Those blooms are fun! gail

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I need to add Monardas back to my garden. The Spotted Horsemint wouldn't work for me either, because the soil here is too moist and loamy. But there's a sandy area of the state not far from here, which seems perfect for them. Aren't the Horsemint blooms crazy?!

      Delete
  3. Like it has been said . . . learn something every day. It is the first time I have learned of the varieties of Bee Balm and the formal name of Monardas. Very pretty in the lilac . . . Wild horse mint is interesting with the Orchid like centers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can't believe how much I learn every day--especially as a garden blogger and naturalist. We'll never run out of things to learn, right?! I agree with you--I really like the color!

      Delete
  4. I have literally thousands of Monarda punctata a few miles East of Montello growing in a sandy field. It actually can grow well in a variety of soils from my experience, but the trick is establishing the plants. It isn't a long-lived plant and needs to reseed in order to maintain a population. The main reason why it doesn't do well in soils other than sand is due to competition and lack of soil disturbance. If you'd like some seed to play around with let me know this Fall. The seeds are tiny and can remain viable for a number of years - in soil or in storage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, lucky you, Nick! To be honest, I found it growing wild near Montello--on some property that we own. So I might try to gather seeds there...or just enjoy it while it lasts. Thanks so much for the offer! It makes sense that you would have it growing near you, too. That Central Sands region is perfect for growing some unusual, as well as common plants.

      Delete
  5. Even if i am not familiar with them, they are lovely, however i love most the green flower. It is not often that we see green flowers, especially here in the tropics when most flowers are very loud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy "loud" colorful plants and blooms, too. This particular plant starts out quiet and nondescript, and then grows purple bracts and wild flowers. I don't recall seeing it before, but it's a fun one to see in the wild.

      Delete
  6. I have the spotted beebalm in my garden. It is lovely and spreading. Makes me so happy! I am visiting my mom in Michigan and on a walk yesterday we saw lots of Monarda in the transition area between the woods and the sand dunes. It was so great to see so many native plants there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I wonder if I've seen pictures on your blog before and just figured we didn't have it hear (or I just don't remember seeing it). It's certainly a fun plant. Glad to hear you're having a nice visit in Michigan. This is the best time of year (in my opinion) to visit the Upper Midwest. I love the Michigan Dunes! We used to vacation there when I was a child. Enjoy!

      Delete
  7. I've never seen the spotted Horsemint before, or if I have, I didn't know what it was--what an interesting plant! I also didn't know the wild beebalm was used for Earl Grey tea; I'll think of this the next time I drink some. Love all the little critters visiting these natives!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Spotted Horsemint certainly is unique when it's flowering! I enjoyed seeing the critters, too. Sometimes I don't notice the bugs and pollinators until I start organizing the photos. ;-)

      Delete
  8. I have a lot of M. fistulosa and it is one of my favorites. As you say, it combines well with many plants - including more hot-colored M. didymas. Also a great plant for pollinators and hummingbirds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it looks great in large plantings--so you swaths of color. And anything that attracts pollinators is welcome! If I had more sun here, I would plant it.

      Delete
  9. Wow, that Spotted Horsemint is Far Out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it wild! I have to admit, at first I thought it must be an invasive exotic, so I was glad to learn it's native to the U.S.

      Delete
  10. M. punctate - is fascinating! I've done a bit of research and can buy seeds here in the uk, trouble being it is said to prefer a dry site. No good in my garden. I grow a couple of cultivated Monarda - they do toil at bit but as the pollinators love it, I persevere!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose it could be invasive, but it sounds like you have a good arrangement for it. I could see growing one or both in pots, too. Attracting pollinators is a definite benefit!

      Delete
  11. I love M. punctata and must find it for my garden. (Not that I have room for it.) I love its form. Totally cool plant. Thanks for visiting my blog. It's always nice to meet fellow plant people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I had sandy soil and more sun, I would plant it for sure. Grace, it has been nice getting to know you on Facebook, and it will be fun to follow your blog now, too!

      Delete
  12. I grew M. didyma and it didn't last, I would like to try the two you write about, the M. punctata looks quite exotic and interesting. Perhaps it would work on a dry bank. Lovely photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it sounds like a dry bank would be a good spot for M. punctata. I was glad to happen across it recently, because I don't remember seeing it before.

      Delete
  13. The two monarda's in the top photo look lovely together, i'll think about the wild bee balm next time I drink earl grey tea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The top photo shows M. fistulosa with Rudbeckias--they were really pretty together. For some flowers--like Monarda--I think I like them best in mass groupings.

      Delete
  14. Oh those are beautiful...I had no idea that they were also available as natives..hmmmm I have clay like soil.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think your garden would like either type of Monarda! I can picture them there ... with Bootsie weaving in and out of the tall stems. ;-)

      Delete
  15. Z zaciekawieniem przeczytałam Twoją informację o tych dziko rosnących roślinach. Obie są bardzo ładne i są pożyteczne ponadto. Pozdrawiam.
    Very interesting to read your information about these wild plants. Both are very nice and are also useful. Yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Giga! I hope your summer has been very pleasant. I imagine the wildflowers in your country are beautiful, too!

      Delete
  16. Bergamot is a truly beautiful plant, althugh I only think of bergamot as one thing, what we in Norway call bergamot orange (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia), a bit different from the Wild Bergamot you have photographed :-)
    The Spotted Horsemint really look a bit like an orchid, would have liked to have a few but I don't think they would like my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that is interesting, Helene. It sounds like the two plants aren't related at all--funny that they ended up with the same common name. The Spotted Horsemint is nifty, isn't it?

      Delete
  17. I took a walk at the State Park and it is blooming all over this year. It is such a pretty native in an unusual color for a native plant. I love seeing it in the meadows, but prefer the reds for the garden. Oddly, no insects were buzzing them. In fact, insects in the Park are down tremendously this year. Very few bees and pollinators. No butterflies and I have been there a lot lately. In the garden they are present, but not the local huge meadows. Any thoughts on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I noticed it today a lot, too, when we were hiking at Devil's Lake State Park--and the scent was very strong. I didn't see any butterflies today, but it was very cold--65F for the high, which is extremely unusual for us in July. Ick. We did see a lot of bees, but they were frozen in place. I'm sure they'll resume normal activity levels when the air warms in a couple of days. My butterfly sightings have varied so widely this summer. Very few here in town--but they were plentiful up at our cottage and at various state parks--until this latest cold snap. I know lots of people are saying the pollinator and butterfly numbers are down this summer. The dragonflies and damselflies seem more plentiful this summer, though.

      Delete
  18. Wild Bergamot grows in the meadow...love its light and airy ways...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really does have a nifty scent ... when my allergies aren't acting up. ;-)

      Delete
  19. I was going to say this would make a great Wildflower Wednesday post. Thanks for sharing it with everyone. I don't think I've ever seen those two here, but I'll look for them now.~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep seeing the Bergamot everywhere lately--along country roadsides, in meadows, at the state parks. But it seems the Spotted Horsemint has slightly more particular growing requirements. Actually, I would think the Horsemint might find Oklahoma gardens to its liking.

      Delete
  20. I love these, especially the Spotted Horsemint! I would welcome either into my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Horsemint is unique! The Wild Bergamot is pretty in gardens, and in the wild. I like both, too. Hard to believe they're closely related!

      Delete
  21. I enjoyed seeing these plants in the wild. So, you own the land they are on, but don't live there? I have a nice sized clump of fistula. I love that other kind, but my soil probably has too much clay for it. Oh, and I like the insects in the photos as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue: Yes, we have a "cottage" (a modest double-wide) north of here. The property includes a "meadow" filled with native plants, some non-natives that we need to deal with, and lots of Black Raspberry canes. The Spotted Horsemint was growing along the edge of the meadow--mainly on the southeast edge. The M. fistula seems to be quite plentiful around here this summer!

      Delete
  22. That spotted horsemint is extraordinary, I would never have taken it for a monarda. The M. fistulosa is beautiful, I'd be very happy to have it in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's really different. I wasn't sure what it was and I was concerned that it might be a problem plant, but I was happy to find out it's native here and not particularly invasive.

      Delete
  23. Oh that Spotted Horsemint is uniquely beautiful... never seen such a Monarda.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love all Monardas but the spotted horsemint is very striking. Wish I could go to Italy with you ~ looks like a fabulous trip and I'm sure you'll have a great time. It's on my bucket list just not at this time...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really different, isn't it? Regarding the trip, if things change it would be fun to travel together, Kathleen. No need to commit until January!

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)