Bee balm (Monarda) is a great perennial for nearly any sunny garden. Modern selections come in a wide variety of strong colors, and most exhibit moderate to strong resistance to the genus’ Achilles heel: the disfiguring disease powdery mildew. Of the purple bee balms, my personal favorite is ‘Scorpion’. Its color is rich and dark without the strong red pigmentation that makes most purple bee balms tend toward the raspberry end of the color spectrum.
A perfect companion for ‘Scorpion’ is oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides). This perennial sunflower’s simple daisies are a foil to the mysterious, hooded inflorescences of bee balm, while its sunshine yellow color matches the dark purple of ‘Scorpion’ in intensity. These two plants bloom simultaneously in late July and early August, and both will rebloom to some extent if deadheaded. They require little care as perennials go except well-prepared garden soil and regular watering. Planted together they’ll make a knockout combination in your garden, too!