Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oswego Tea

Two years ago I'd never heard of Monarda or beebalm. For my new garden Country Girl gave me a few Oswego Tea plants. A plant named for here, who would have thought!? She said it was red so I planted it near some crimson sage and next to the ox-eyed daisies that she gave me. It was a little battered from the move and didn't stand up straight but how could you not fall in love with such a crazy flower! I soon noticed lots of baby plants but with lots of space to fill I was thrilled.

It was just luck that the spot I picked was just outside my bedroom window. I love waking up to the minty scent and sea of bright red. This is the patch after I potted some up for the two fundraisers back in June.

I can sit in the chair by the window and watch the humming birds and they don't seem to notice that I'm there. I love to watch them move in a circle around each flower. I'll be moving some to the back of the house under the office window. :))

About the same time that I was given the Oswego Tea a parent gave me a lupine from her garden. I had already started some lupine seeds so I stuck it next to them and staked it up.

I didn't notice the stow-away until I had cut the lupine back. You can see it there on the right. If I hadn't just gotten some from Country Girl I would have probably pulled it out thinking it was a weed! It never did bloom last year so I have been anxiously awaiting the blooms this year.

Pink! I love it. Country Girl was hoping for purple. Oh, well.

You can see how much this patch spread too. I'll be moving some to my new garden as I don't have as much room for it to spread here but I'll be happy to let it move around the corner a little.

From the Mountain Valley Growers Tea Herb Garden:
Native to the eastern United States, Oswego Tea was a welcome addition to the tea chest for tea drinkers during the Boston Tea Party. Its deep, rich flavor gave the robust body to herbal tea that was needed to mimic what people were used to drinking, China Tea. Oswego Tea is also known as Bee Balm.

A riot of color in spring, it should be pruned back to about an inch above the ground right after flowering. This will ensure a vigorous fragrant crop of leaves for harvesting and drying before winter frosts knock the plant back to the ground for its long dormant rest. Oswego Tea leaves are most flavorful when dried and the flowers are best when used fresh, but can be dried. Oswego Tea can be added to Black tea for an Earl Grey flavor, or blend it with any citrus-flavored herb for a morning eye-opener.


  1. Wow! I have no luck with this plant. Too much shade and thus mildew.

  2. I'm going to Oswego on Sunday. Do you think I can find some there?

  3. Pink is good. The pink I bought is just starting to bloom and it's purple. Not the deep purple I was hoping for but not pink! Looks like a passalong coming your way...

    Martha - I don't see this in nurserys very often since everyone just gives it away but a great nursery in Oswego to check out is Ontario Orchards. They are on Rt 104 West of Oswego. They have great produce as well. It's a great spreader and loves the sun if you can find it.

  4. Silly me! I have some Bee Balm but it's purple. My daughter used to call this garden "hers" before she got married and I paid little attention to what she put there. I do like the red though. I should be passing by the Ontario Orchards tomorrow, maybe I'll stop and see what they have.