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Plant of the Month: Monarda

Grand Parade

Monarda didyma ‘Grand Parade’

Latin name: Monarda didyma ‘Grand Parade’

Common name: Bee balm
Flowers: 3” clusters of vivid violet-purple
Mature size: 20” tall x 24” wide
Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Soil: Not picky
Exposure: Full sun 
Water usage: Average to moist
Sources: Local retail or Internet

Imagine a dwarf bee balm that actually thrives in areas like North Texas and doesn’t get consumed by powdery mildew. It took me three years of trialing before I believed it, too! ‘Grand Parade’ bee balm quickly forms compact mounds of shiny green foliage that are crowned in mid-summer with 3-inch balls of rich lavender to violet-purple flowers. Unlike other varieties we’ve tested at the Dallas Arboretum, this one seems to be somewhat resistant to the dreaded powdery mildew. It may end up with a few leaves infected, but it won’t defoliate or die from the problem.

Bees and butterflies flock to the fragrant flowers from mid-June to August. As an added bonus, deer dislike this plant! Plant in full sun and keep well watered; this is not a xeriscape plant. At 20 inches tall, ‘Grand Parade’ is perfect at the front of the perennial border. I like it mixed with Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ or at the feet of yellow daylilies. The only yearly maintenance needed is to cut the plants to the ground after the first hard freeze. Other than that, this perennial is relatively maintenance-free.

‘Grand Parade’ may be hard to locate at your local retailer, but many online vendors sell it. Just type the name into Google, along with mail order and you should be able to locate it.