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Smart and Pretty

Monarda bradburyana
by MaryAnn Fink
by MaryAnn Fink


[MaryAnn Fink is a St Louis native always involved with greening the environment and the professional horticulture industry. She is presently Coordinator/Executive Director of the Missouri Landscape & Nursery Association, and promotes the professional green industry throughout Missouri and the Kansas City suburbs. She speaks on a variety of subjects including community greening, plant research, natural and butterfly landscapes. She is an ambassador for the National Wildlife Federation, America In Bloom, The Land Plant Development Center and Plants of Merit. She can be reached at and at]

July 29, 2007

Plant of Merit 2008

This Born in America, Eastern beebalm is tolerant of a great range of growing, light and moisture conditions. The tubular, two-lipped, pinkish to whitish, purple-spotted flowers form puff of flowers that rest at the top of the stems. Sometimes sitting flat on top, or cocked slightly to the side, the flower heads look like a display of feathery ladies hats in the window of an old fashion shop. Preferring average moisture, acidic soils and morning sun, it is surprisingly tolerant of drought, full sun, common clay soils and drying winds.

Only 1-2’ tall, flowering is best when spent blooms are removed. This enjoyable garden activity significantly increases flowering potential and length of bloom. Well behaved and naturally healthy, this native beebalm is tough but not rampant in a managed landscape. An underused member of the Monarda family, it is a hummingbird and butterfly magnet that should be a welcomed addition to habitat gardens as well as perennial borders.

This Missouri beebalm species is occasionally seen in dryish, acidic soils in open, rocky woods and glade margins. Disease resistant, it is rarely bothered with the mildew that plagues many common beebalms. In its natural setting it attempts to relocate to a better circumstance by self-seeding. In a cultivated space, it relishing having worn flowers removed and a defined space to call home that it minimizes its propagating tendencies. Encourage its natural clump-forming habit by root pruning around the base in early spring. This will also encourage strong upright growth.


MaryAnn Fink is a St Louis Native who herself wears many "hats". Always involved with greening the environment, plants and the professional horticulture industry, she is presently coordinating the Missouri Landscape & Nursery Association. Promoting the professional green industry throughout Missouri and the Kansas City suburbs through SHOW ME SMART GARDENING campaign, she is also an ambassador for the National Wildlife Federation and America In Bloom. She can be reached at  and at   Garden Centers and Nurseries are planning now for the 2008 Growing season and you should plan too! This plant has “Merit” and will receive its Plant of Merit recognition in January of 2008.

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