17 Best Bee Balm Varieties for the Home Garden

If you are looking to draw more pollinators to your garden, very few plants do the job as well as bee balm. Here, pollinator gardening enthusiast Melissa Strauss shares 17 colorful varieties of this plant for your garden.

Graceful and slender stems support the regal presence of purple bee balm flowers. Below, a carpet of lush green foliage provides a verdant foundation, enhancing the elegance of the floral display with its vibrant contrast.

Contents

Bee balm is the common name for plants in the genus Monarda. These members of the mint family have gained popularity for their quirky, colorful flowers. These flowers are highly desirable by pollinators as a rich source of nectar. 

This easy-going plant prefers lots of sunlight and well-draining soil to perform its best. It makes a great companion in the vegetable garden because of how well it draws in beneficial insects. 

Bee balm plants are heat and cold-tolerant, growing in a wide range of climates. The most prevalent problem for this plant is powdery mildew. You can prevent this by planting in full sun and ensuring proper air circulation. Let’s take a look at some beautiful varieties of bee balm for your garden

Rockin’ Raspberry

A close-up of the Rockin' Raspberry variety. The Rockin’ Raspberry variety boasts striking magenta blossoms, exuding a captivating allure in the sunlight. Its deep green foliage complements the vivid blooms, creating a visually stunning display against the sunlit terrace backdrop.
The mid-sized rockin’ raspberry plant reaches about two feet.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Rockin’ Raspberry’ PP28752
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 20”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Rockin’ Raspberry’ is a member of the Sugar Buzz series bred by Walters Gardens, Inc. Bred for excellent resistance to powdery mildew, this bee balm variety is sturdy in the garden. It’s exceptionally showy with deep green foliage with purple veining and large fuchsia flowers. 

This is a mid-sized plant, reaching about two feet at maturity. It forms a mound of foliage decorated with splashy flowers in well-branched stems. This variety doesn’t spread too quickly and is great for containers. 

Jacob Cline

A close-up of Jacob Cline variety. Jacob Cline Bee Balm variety showcases brilliant scarlet flowers that stand out against the surrounding foliage. Its deep green leaves form a lush canopy around the vibrant blooms. Sturdy stems support the radiant blossoms, adding to the plant's allure.
Position this tall plant towards the back of your garden beds.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This brilliant red variety will bring tons of hummingbirds to the garden. Red is a hummingbird’s favorite color, and the tubular flowers of ‘Jacob Cline’ are too enticing to pass up. This is a taller variety, which can reach heights of four to five feet over the season. It is an exceptionally vigorous grower and stands up well to the elements

Plant ‘Jacob Cline’ near the back of your garden beds. Its height will cast a shadow on smaller plants. However, it makes an excellent backdrop and coordinates well with salvia or other flowering herbs. The plant will spread to about three feet and blooms best when it is divided every few years. 

Panorama Red

A close-up reveals the vibrant, velvety petals of Panorama Red bursting with crimson hues and delicate texture. The flowers boast intricate layers and intricate patterns, inviting pollinators with their sweet nectar. Surrounding them are lush green leaves, providing a verdant backdrop to their radiant blooms.
Cold-hardy ‘Panorama Red’ boasts scarlet blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma ‘Panorama Red’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2’-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

In addition to being a great pollinator attractor, bee balm has other practical uses. ‘Panorama Red’ is a bright and cheerful variety that makes gorgeous dried flowers. The blooms retain a lot of their color when dried. This plant also makes a nice herbal tea from dried leaves and flowers. 

‘Panorama Red’ is a mid-sized plant, reaching between two and three feet tall. The apple green foliage with deep red veining perfectly complements the scarlet blooms. These are cold-hardy all the way to Zone 3, making them one of the most cold-tolerant bee balm varieties.

Leading Lady Plum

A close-up of Leading Lady Plum showcases its elegant duo of deep purple flowers, each adorned with delicate, fringed petals and contrasting white stamens at their center. The glossy, green leaves of the plant glisten in the sun, absorbing its warmth and energy, while adding to the overall beauty of the scene.
This variety attracts honey bees with its large, flashy blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Leading Lady Plum’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Leading Lady Plum’ is a wonderful compact variety. It only grows to about one foot tall, making it a good fit for borders and foreground plants. It also works very well in containers. This cultivar has dark green foliage that offsets electric purple flowers.  

Since blue and purple are a bee’s favorite colors, this is one to plant to attract both native and honey bees. The flowers are large, prolific, and flashy. ‘Leading Lady Plum’ is an early bloomer that will begin flowering in late spring to early summer. 

Bee-True

A close-up of the flowers of Bee-True display a cheerful array of vibrant pink petals, forming clusters that dance gracefully in the breeze, beckoning bees and butterflies alike. Below, slender stems and lance-shaped leaves adorn the plant, providing sturdy support and a lush, green contrast to the blossoms.
This cultivar is highly resistant to powdery mildew.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda hybrid ‘Bee-True’ MON0005BTR’PP29097
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

‘Bee-True’ is part of the Bee-You series, and a fast grower in the garden or container. The plants are mid-sized, reaching about two feet tall. They form nice, compact clumps of dark green foliage, quickly. The flowers are large and magenta, with velvety red centers. 

The aromatic foliage of this variety has a scent that suggests basil and mint. It is herbaceous and pleasant. It grows in a nice shape with little attention and has excellent resistance to powdery mildew.

Bee-Free

A close-up showcases the vibrant blooms of Bee-Free variety, displaying delicate petals in shades of pink and purple. Its sturdy stems rise gracefully amidst lush, dark green foliage, adding a striking contrast to the surrounding earthy tones of soil and grasses.
A breathtaking display of ‘Bee-Free’ captivates with its vibrant hues.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda hybrid ‘Bee-Free’ PP#29,032
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 15”-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

‘Bee-Free’ is another Bee-You variety with a similar, low, mounding growth habit. The aromatic foliage is fresh and herbal and great for making tea. The best quality of this series is its incredible powdery mildew resistance. It is mildew-proof. 

A mass planting of ‘Bee-Free’ is a stunning and colorful sight. This cultivar has maroon buds that open to red-violet flowers. It is clump-forming and reaches just over one foot tall over the summer. 

Raspberry Wine

A close-up of the Raspberry Wine variety reveals its rich, burgundy-hued blossoms, each petal bursting with intricate details. The lush green leaves provide a lush backdrop, their serrated edges adding texture and depth to the overall composition.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the tubular flowers of Raspberry Wine.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3’-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

‘Raspberry Wine’ is a great background plant as it grows to heights of up to four feet tall. It is a heavy bloomer with bright magenta flowers, which begin to bloom in mid-summer. Under the right conditions, this variety can become invasive, so it will need regular thinning out. 

The apple green foliage virtually glows in the garden. It provides a wonderful backdrop for the brilliant blooms. Hummingbirds are fond of this variety and can be often seen visiting the tubular flowers. It has great resistance to powdery mildew, as well. 

Claire Grace

A close-up of the Claire Grace variety displays its dainty, lavender-colored flowers, attracting pollinators with their sweet nectar. The glossy green leaves of Claire Grace exude vitality, their vibrant hue complementing the soft pastel tones of the blooms, creating a harmonious visual symphony.
This variety boasts large, pinkish-purple flower heads.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3′-4′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

If you live in a coastal area, this salt-tolerant variety will grow well in your garden. ‘Claire Grace’ is a medium to large variety with a vigorous growth habit. Though not as dense as some smaller types, the foliage is attractive and dark green with purple stems. 

‘Claire Grace’ is especially showy with large, pinkish-purple flower heads. This variety is popular with butterflies, in particular. It makes a great addition to the pollinator garden. The long stems make this a nice cultivar for the cutting garden, too.

Blue Stocking

A close-up reveals the vibrant hue of Blue Stocking flowers, showcasing its deep magenta petals. Each flower is a tiny marvel, intricately designed with slender pistils and stamens, inviting pollinators with its nectar-rich center. In the background, the lush foliage creates a soft blur, emphasizing the focal beauty of the blossoms.
Optimal drainage is crucial for bee balm to prevent root rot.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Blue Stocking’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2’-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Blue Stocking’ with its blue-violet blooms, is a good bee attractor. Plant this variety in the vegetable garden for an increased harvest. This is a great bloomer, beginning in mid-summer and blooming well into the fall. It is mid-sized, with a mature height of around three feet tall

Make sure to plant your bee balm in an area with very good drainage. These plants like a fair amount of moisture, but they won’t tolerate wet feet. Be aware of this during the winter months because cold, wet soil can easily lead to root rot while the plant is dormant. 

Bee Merry

A close-up of Bee Merry variety displays its charming flowers, boasting cheerful red color petals. Its sturdy stems provide support for the blooms, while the lush green leaves offer a striking contrast, enhancing the overall appeal of the plant.
The vibrant pink blooms of this variety emerge from magenta buds.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Bee-Merry’ PPAF
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Also a Bee-Free variety, ‘Bee-Merry’ is a cheerful and compact variety of bee balm. This cultivar quickly grows to about a foot tall and has a naturally rounded habit. It is clumping and easier to manage than some of the more aggressive varieties. 

‘Bee-Merry’ along with all the Bee-Free cultivars, are bred to be resistant to powdery mildew. This one has bright pink flowers that come from magenta buds. The foliage is dark green with hints of red and aromatic. 

Blue Moon

A close-up of Blue Moon  variety showcases its enchanting flowers, with soft petals and a captivating shade of blue. Surrounding the blooms are the lush green leaves, adding depth and texture to the plant and complementing the beauty of the flowers.
The dark green foliage of ‘Blue Moon’ forms a dense clump.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Blue Moon’ PP29249
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1’-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Blue Moon’ is a Sugar Buzz series variety. The plants in this series are all similar in stature and growth habit, so they look great together. They are roughly two feet tall at maturity, making them great mid-ground plants. Their mildew resistance is above average. 

If you like seeing bees in the garden, the blue-violet flowers on ‘Blue Moon’ will be highly attractive to these garden helpers. The foliage is dark green and forms a dense clump. The flowers glow in contrast to the deep foliage. This variety is vigorous but not aggressive in the garden. 

Marshall’s Delight

A close-up of Marshall’s Delight reveals its intricate pink flower, with a honeybee nestled at its center, collecting nectar. In the background, a gentle blur highlights other pink flowers of Marshall’s Delight, creating a serene floral landscape.
Crushing the leaves of this plant releases an intense spicy scent.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma ‘Marshall’s Delight’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 28”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

‘Marshall’s Delight’ has some wonderful qualities to extoll. For one thing, the flowers are unusual and extra flashy. Rather than a disk shape, this variety has rounded flowers that are nearly spherical. The bright, clear pink flowers are large, and with tall stems, this plant works very well in the cutting garden. 

Many varieties of bee balm are fragrant, and ‘Marshall’s Delight’ is no exception. The flowers and foliage have a pleasant, spicy fragrance. The scent of the leaves intensifies when crushed. 

Balmy Rose

A close-up of Balmy Rose Bee Balm unveils its intricate flowers, adorned with layers of soft, rosy petals. Surrounding them, emerald green leaves provide a lush backdrop, contrasting beautifully with the vibrant blooms. Each leaf exhibits a glossy sheen, catching the light in a mesmerizing display.
The plant has vibrant pink flowers, about three inches wide.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma ‘Balbalmose’ #26,567’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 10”-12”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

‘Balmy Rose’ is a member of the Balmy series, with great disease resistance and an abundance of blooms. A great attribute of this series is their early blooming habit. They begin blooming in early summer and continue into the fall months. 

The large flowers are about three inches wide and vibrant pink. The plant is compact, only reaching about one foot at maturity. It holds up well in hot weather and will continue to look lush and attractive through the summer. The deep green foliage has pink accents and perfectly complements the brilliant pink flowers

Pardon My Rose

A close-up of Pardon My Rose Bee Balm captivating with its charming flowers, boasting a rich red hue and intricate structure. Delicate petals unfurl elegantly, inviting admiration. Its verdant green leaves, tinged with hints of purple, add depth to the composition, completing the picture of natural beauty.
Regular division slows the spread of ‘Pardon My Rose’.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma ‘Pardon My Rose’ PP34434 CPBRAF
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Pardon My Rose’ is a sweet, shrubby variety with dense stems and foliage. It makes an excellent container plant and looks great in a mass planting. It’s a smaller plant, but the flowers are as big as larger varieties. The rose-pink blooms are flashy and fun, contrasted with slightly glossy, green foliage. 

This more modern hybrid has very good disease resistance. Powdery mildew is no match for ‘Pardon My Rose.’ This cultivar spreads quickly, so make sure to divide regularly to slow the spread. 

Cherry Pops

A close-up reveals Cherry Pops Bee Balm's vibrant red flowers, each delicately layered with soft petals. Surrounding the blooms are lush green leaves, glossy and veined, framing the blossoms beautifully.
The scarlet flowers of this variety bloom on robust stems.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Cherry Pops’ PP27618
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 16”-24”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Another member of the Sugar Buzz series, ‘Cherry Pops’ is a brilliant red variety. All members of the series are similar in size and bloom time, so they make great partners in the garden. If you want a variety of colors, Sugar Buzz is the way to go. ‘Cherry Pops’ grows in a rounded shape to about two feet tall

This variety blooms vigorously on long, strong, well-branched stems. The flowers are two to two and a half inches across and scarlet. The series is a good clumping grower. It is not aggressive so no need to worry about it becoming invasive.

Fireball

A single Fireball Bee Balm flower exhibits fiery red hues, resembling a miniature torch. Its intricate petals unfurl gracefully, drawing attention to its vibrant center. Below the flower, small green leaves form a verdant crown, adding a touch of elegance to the composition.
This compact variety suits any garden.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Fireball’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 12”-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

‘Fireball’ is a compact variety, reaching only about one foot at maturity. It blooms in early to mid-summer and continues until late summer. The flowers are large and fluffy, in an electric shade of crimson. This variety has long stems and apple-green foliage with a slight blush in some areas. 

This dwarf cultivar will fit into any garden space. With a spread similar to its height, it makes a nice border or mass planting, as well. Butterflies and hummingbirds will come to the garden just for this plant. 

Balmy Purple

Balmy Purple Bee Balm blooms display a mesmerizing shade of deep purple, evoking a sense of tranquility. Each flower showcases intricate details, from delicate petals to a prominent stamen. The lush green leaves of Balmy Purple Bee Balm provide a lush backdrop, enhancing the beauty of the blossoms.
The deep pinkish-purple flowers of this plant are eye-catching.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda ‘Balmy Purple’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 10”-12”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

‘Balmy Purple’ doesn’t get that tall, but that means it blooms early and will continue for quite some time. This purple variety will be very popular with bees and butterflies. It makes an excellent border plant in the pollinator garden. At nearly one foot tall, this is one of the more compact bee balms. 

If you want an easy-to-care-for, disease-resistant, and compact plant, ‘Balmy Purple’ is a great choice. The dark green foliage looks beautiful with deep purple stems. The flowers are deep, pinkish-purple, and very showy.

Final Thoughts

Bee balm plants are a must-have in the pollinator garden. The taller varieties make great additions to the cutting garden, with strong stems and colorful blooms. The dwarf cultivars are ideal for containers and borders. There are so many good uses for this plant, from ornamental to its use as a tasty tea. 

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