“Panorama Red Shades” bee balm (Monarda didyma “Panorama Red Shades”) is a bright, cheerful, red-flowering bee balm cultivar. Although it requires a medium amount of maintenance and is susceptible to fungal diseases, “Panorama Red Shades” bee balm has a variety of garden uses and will attract wildlife.
Also called bergamot and horsemint, bee balms (Monarda spp.) are native to North America. Bee balm grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. It is also called Oswego tea because the Oswego Indians, who lived in the New York state area, brewed it as a tea.
The flowers produced by “Panorama Red Shades” are bright red and generally long-lasting. They bloom through July and August, the blooms massing atop the 2- to 4-foot-tall leafy clumps. The flowers look messy, something like mop heads, with petals massed in globular terminals and reddish leafy bracts ringing the bottom. The stems are square, like all members of the mint family. The leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and toothed around the margins.
“Panorama Red Shades” prefers full sun or partial shade, and medium to wet soil. The soil should be rich and full of humus but doesn't need to be well-draining. Where garden conditions are crowded and air circulation is poor, powdery mildew can affect bee balm. Thin the plants to allow air flow and water consistently to keep the plants from becoming stressed. Deadheading flowers will prolong blooming.
“Panorama Red Shades” brings summer color to the garden, and may be used for contrast in perennial borders or herb gardens. As it naturally inhabits meadows and woodlands, it also works well as an addition to an informal garden or wildflower area. Its tolerance of wet soils make it a good choice for along streams or next to water features. The plants are a good choice for garden areas where rabbits and deer are a problem. The aromatic leaves may be used in salads or to make tea. The flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden, and work well as cut flowers.