Beebalm ~ Monarda didyma

trudi_dJanuary 1, 2013

Image by: wintersown

Beebalm is a lovely wildflower that can survive in both dry or soggy soils. It enjoys either full or part sun. Monarda is a perennial plant that spreads with underground stolons. Do not be tempted to feed this wildflower or treat it to enriched soil for it can become a garden thug with the slightest amount of tender loving care. The nectar of monarda is adored by both bee and butterfly. Its scented leaves are similar to the delicious bergamot flavoring of Earl Grey Tea. Early settlers and Native Americans used the leaves to infuse medicinal Oswego Tea. To this day the plant is still often referred to as Bergamot.

Collection can be challenging because the seeds are very small and not produced in abundance. Gather the mature seed heads and allow them to dry for a few days. Place them in a tightly lidded plastic container and shake it for several seconds. This will help loosen the seeds from the heads. Use a fine meshed kitchen sieve to filter out the seeds onto a plate. Gently, gently puff away any chaff or use a tweezer to pick out the seeds.

Seeds are very small, a scant 1/32" across and wheat colored. It is an accepted norm to trade seeds with chaff because of the great difficulty in separating them. Sowing instructions should include patting both seeds and chaff onto the surface of moist soil.

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