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Drought tolerant perennial, horsemint is good for rain gardens, restoration, meadow plantings, or use in the ornamental garden.

Drought tolerant perennial, horsemint is good for rain gardens, restoration, meadow plantings, or use in the ornamental garden. USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 8 October 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Monarda punctata

Horsemint

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Monarda punctata is a multi-stemmed unbranched perennial wildflower.  This beebalm bears narrow aromatic leaves on purplish stems.  In summer, plants are topped by showy rounded clusters of creamy purple-spotted tubular flowers.  Leaf-like pink, lavender or creamy bracts form beneath each flower cluster. The stacked combination of colored bracts and speckled flowers is unique and showy.  Pollinators flock to the blooms in sunny prairie-like settings or in gardens with sandy well drained soils.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  Monarda punctata occurs from Quebec to Vermont and Florida and west to Ontario, Minnesota, Kansas and New Mexico.

This species is indigenous to sandy prairies and savannas, sand dunes around the Great Lakes and sandy fields.  Plants occur in disturbed or high quality sandy habitats.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Monarda punctata is an upright perennial with multiple stems and a few short rhizomes.

Stems are square and pubescent with brownish or purplish color.  The aromatic leaves are arranged opposite from each other on short petioles along the stems.   

Leaf blades are medium green and narrowly lanceolate. They are about 3” long and 1” wide with toothed edges and pointed tips.

The stems terminate in a series of rounded 2-3” clusters of tubular flowers.   The corolla tubes are pubescent and creamy with violet dots.

The flowers are born in a ring on dense head-like cymes.  Several pinkish, lavender or creamy yellow colored bracts are arranged beneath each cyme.

Blooming lasts for about 6 weeks and is followed by ovoid nutlets that are produced in brown button-like cymes.

Plants grow 1-3’ tall with 1’ spread.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDSMonarda punctata thrives in full sun and dry sandy soil. 

The species is considered to be a short lived perennial or biennial.  Plants reliably emerge from dormancy for 2 years and may reseed after that.

The aromatic foliage is unpalatable to deer, rabbits and other herbivores. 

LANDSCAPE USES:  This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden, Cut Flower Garden, or sandy Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting.   Monarda punctata has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Monarda punctata with Aster laevis, Asclepias tuberosa, Bouteloua curtipendula, Rudbeckia hirta, Liatris aspera, Penstemon digitalis, Schizachyrium scoparium and Andropogon gerardii.

Blephilia ciliata has similar appearance and culture and could be substituted in some situations.

TRIVIA:  Monarda punctata has more of the aromatic beneficial phenol thymol than other members of the Mint family. 

Plant have been used medicinally for horses as well as humans.  For this reason they are sometimes called spotted horsemint or dotted horsemint.

Butterflies, skippers, hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, honeybees, bumblebees and other native bees sip nectar from the flowers.  Caterpillars of several moth species feed on the foliage.  The aromatic leaves and stems are unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.

The unusual pagoda-like flower arrangement is called a “verticillaster”.   This floral composition occurs in only a few Mint family species.  Most Monarda spp. have one terminal cyme per stem instead of this layered arrangement of cymes and colored bracts.


Height:

1-3 ft

Spread:

9-12 in

USDA Hardiness Zone:

4-9

Bloom Color:

Cream, Purple

Monarda punctata Characteristics

Exposure

  • Full Sun

Critter Resistance

  • Deer Resistant

Attracts Wildlife

  • Pollinators
  • Hummingbirds
  • Butterflies

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Moist to Dry

Attributes

  • Fragrant
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Cut Flower
  • Naturalizing

Flowering Months

  • July
  • June

Foliage Color

  • Green

Interesting Notes:

For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=MOPU


Plants that work well with Monarda punctata ''

American beach grass American beach grass (Ammophilia breviligulata)
pearly everlasting pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Pink tickseed Pink tickseed (Coreopsis rosea)
Scaly blazing star Scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa)
Poverty oat grass Poverty oat grass (Danthonia spicata)
Saltmeadow cordgrass Saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens)
Smooth blue aster Smooth blue aster (Aster laevis)
Butterfly weed Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Sideoats grama Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)
Sweet black-eyed Susan Sweet black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Beard tongue Beard tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
Little bluestem Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Sundrops Sundrops (Oenothera fruiticosa 'Cold crick')
Sundrops Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa)
Brown-eyed Susan Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)
Wild pink Wild pink (Silene caroliniana)
Grass-leaved goldenrod Grass-leaved goldenrod (Solidago graminifolia)
Early goldenrod Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
Prairie goldenrod Prairie goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)
Atlantic coastal panic grass Atlantic coastal panic grass (Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue')
Buffalo Grass Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides)
Short and Sweet Wild pink Short and Sweet Wild pink (Silene caroliniana 'Short and Sweet')
Alkali Sacaton Alkali Sacaton (Sporobolus airoides)

Substitutions for Monarda punctata

Downy wood mint Downy wood mint (Blephilia ciliata)