FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ is a sturdy perennial bee balm cultivar. Plants have deep green aromatic leaves displayed on strong square stems. In summer, stems are topped by showy terminal clusters of raspberry-wine tubular flowers. The blooms are a magnet for insect pollinators and the occasional hummingbird. This is a sun loving perennial that thrives in moist rich or average soils.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ is a cultivar of undetermined parentage but is believed to be didyma. 'Raspberry Wine' was hybridized by Darrell R. Probst of Hubbardston, Massachusetts and introduced by White Flower Farms in 1992.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ is an upright clumping perennial that expands into small colonies from underground rhizomes.
Stems are sturdy, green and square. The aromatic leaves have short petioles and opposite arrangement.
Leaf blades are deep green with a toothed edge and pointed tip. They are oval and have some pubescence.
The flowers are tubular, fragrant and about 1” long. Each corolla tube is actually a ring of united petals with a shocking hot pink color. The tubes are pubescent with lobes toward the tip and excerpted stamens.
As many as 30 flowers are born in a ring on each dense head-like cyme. The lobes and stamens of individual flowers give the flower clusters a ragged appearance. The entire head is usually about 3” across and has purplish leaf like bracts beneath.
Blooming lasts for about 6 weeks and is followed a crop of ovoid nutlets that are nestled into the disc shaped cyme.
Plants grow 24-30” tall with 2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ thrives in full sun and moist fertile soil. Plants tolerate part sun, clay, heat and some drought.
Plants bloom more vigorously if they are divided in spring or fall every 3-4 years.
This cultivar is resistant to powdery mildew. Irrigation during drought and pruning to thin dense growth helps to enhance the resistance.
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 urban Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ 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 x ‘Raspberry Wine’ with Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Hibiscus coccineus, Monarda fistulosa, Liatris spicata, Schizachyrium scoparium or Andropogon gerardii.
If flower color is not an issue, the cultivar Monarda didyma x ‘Jacob Cline’ could be substituted. ‘Jacob Cline’ is another mildew resistant cultivar that has intense red blooms.
TRIVIA: Monarda x ‘Raspberry Wine’ is very attractive to pollinators. Insects including native bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths, beneficial wasps, hover flies and beetles visit the blossoms. Hummingbirds are reported to sip nectar from the flowers as well.
Members of Monarda spp. belong to the Mint Family (Lamiaceae or Labiatae).