Monarda citriodora

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: lemon mint 
Type: Annual
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Central and southern United States, and northern Mexico
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Lavender to pink to white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers limestone-rich, rocky or sandy soils, but tolerates other soils. Prefers full sun. Plant seed in fall or early spring. This plant will remain in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. Plants may form large colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Monarda citriodora, commonly called lemon mint, lemon beebalm, lemon horsemint, purple horsemint or lemon bergamot, is a hardy annual (sometimes biennial) that is typically found in rocky or sandy prairies, pastures and roadsides from South Carolina and Florida west to Missouri, Texas and Mexico. In Missouri, it primarily occurs in limestone glades, dry limestone ledges, bald knobs and rocky prairies in certain counties south of the Missouri River (Steyermark). It grows 12-30” tall. Tubular, scented, two-lipped, light lavender to pink to white flowers bloom in dense, globular, head-like clusters (verticillasters or false whorls) from spring to mid-summer (May-August in St. Louis). Flower clusters appear on stiff square stems clad with narrow lanceolate to oblong, awn-tipped, serrate leaves (to 2.5” long). Upper stem leaves may be in whorls. Each flower stem typically has 2 to 6 interrupted flower clusters, with each cluster being subtended by white to pink-lavender bracts. Flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, particularly when massed. Leaves have a distinctive lemony aroma when rubbed. Some monardas are commonly called beebalm in reference to a prior use of the leaves as a balm for bee stings.

Genus name honors Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), physician and botanist of Seville.

Specific epithet comes from Latin and means having a citrus aroma.


Powdery mildew can be a serious problem with some of the monardas. Susceptibility to foliar diseases in general increases if plants are grown in dry soils or are allowed to dry out.


Bedding plant, cottage gardens, herb gardens, native plant areas, prairies, roadsides or waste areas. Also effective in hummingbird or butterfly gardens. Leaves may be used to make herbal teas or may be added to pot-pourris.