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Monarda punctata Bee Balm, Horsemint

Edward F. Gilman, Terry Delvalle, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Horsemint is a 12 to 18 inch tall, upright, herbaceous perennial that has long been used by Native Americans to make a “sweating tea.” The branched stems of this plant bear opposite, lanceolate to oblong leaves that are 3 inches in length. These light green leaves have serrated to nearly entire margins. Horsemint produces fragrant, beautiful pink flowers which are held above the foliage in the summer and fall. It is native to moist, coastal upland sites in Florida.

Full Form - Monarda punctata: Bee Balm, Horsemint
Figure 1. Full form - Monarda punctata: Bee balm, horsemint. 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS 


Leaf - Monarda punctata: Bee Balm, Horsemint
Figure 2. Leaf - Monarda punctata: Bee balm, horsemint. 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS 


Flower - Monarda punctata: Bee Balm, Horsemint
Figure 3. Flower - Monarda punctata: Bee balm, horsemint. 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS 

General Information

Scientific name: Monarda punctata

Pronunciation: moe-NAR-duh punk-TAY-tuh

Common name(s): bee balm, horsemint, monarda, spotted beebalm

Family: Lamiaceae

Plant type: perennial; herbaceous

USDA hardiness zones: 4 through 9 (Figure 4)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Origin: native to Florida

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: ground cover; edging

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 4. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 1 to 3 feet

Spread: 2 to 4 feet

Plant habit: spreading

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: fast

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: lanceolate; ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: pink

Flower characteristic: summer flowering


Fruit shape: unknown

Fruit length: unknown

Fruit cover: unknown

Fruit color: unknown

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

This herbaceous perennial may be used in the landscape as a summer ground cover in a small garden. It also presents a nice, massed display in a perennial border.

Horsemint should be grown in full sun on a well-drained sandy soil with some moisture retentive capability. Provide occasional irrigation in drought if soil drains excessively. It is tolerant to some drought and is generally unscathed by freezing temperatures in Florida. Monarda didyma is sometimes grown in Florida but does not tolerate hot/humid conditions well. There are many other bee balms native to North and Central America.

Propagate Monarda punctata by division or from seed.

Pests and Diseases

The plant is tolerant of pests and diseases.

Publication #FPS413

Release Date:January 11, 2024

Related Collections

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About this Publication

This document is FPS413, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Terry Delvalle, Extension agent, Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture, and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design, Department of Environmental Horticulture; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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