Wild Bergamot is a native perennial clump forming flower that is naturally found growing in dry rocky woods and dry prairies all across the United States. At maturity this plant reaches a height of 2-3' and features a square like stem, aromatic greenish gray leaves, and globular clusters of two-lipped lavender flowers. This plant is best known for its ability to attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but it also is both edible and medicinal, can be used as a cut flower, is drought tolerant, is used to flavor perfumes, make insect repellents and essential oils, is resistant to deer, and self sows!
Species: Monarda fistulosa
Cultivar: Wild Bergamot
Also Known As: Horsemint.
Native Range: Alabama, Alberta, Arizona, Arkansas, British Columbia, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico Northeast, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Québec, Rhode I., Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Ease of Growing: Easy
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): July to September
Light: Full Sun To Part Shade
Water: Dry to medium
Soil Moisture: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
Attracts Beneficial Insects?: Yes. Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds and is resistant to Deer.
Containers: Yes. If you want to grow bergamot in a container, you can prepare a well-drained soil mixture for them to grow in. A mixture of perlite, peat moss, dry compost, vermiculite and some manure for nutrition will be perfect. Select a place in your garden for the container where there is full sun or partial shade.
Sow Depth: 1/8"
USDA Zone: 3a-9b
Produces: 2-4" lavender flower heads and Gray-Green leaves.
Garden Uses: Provides color and contrast for the herb garden, wild garden, native plant garden, meadow or naturalized area. May be used in the perennial border, but is simply a less colorful selection than the similar-in-appearance Monarda didyma and its many cultivars (the bee balms).
1. Cut off bergamot flower heads when they bloom in early to late summer using garden shears or a sharp knife. Make the cut just below the base of each flower head.
2. Inspect the flowers for and remove any insects or debris.
3. Gather the flower heads into small bundles, then put each bundle in a paper bag.
4. Put the bags in well-ventilated area to allow the flowers to dry.
Cut off bergamot leaves as needed throughout the growing season. The leaves can be used fresh or dried for later use.
Warning: If not dried properly, harvested bergamot may develop mold. Don't keep your bergamot in a damp area or a room without adequate ventilation.
2. Put the harvested flower heads in a paper bag and shake to separate the seeds from the heads.
3. Run the seeds through a sieve to separate them from the chaff. Keep the seeds stored in a sealed container or bag with a small amount of moist peat moss or sand.
4. Store fresh seeds in the refrigerator.
Leaves: raw or cooked. The entire plant above ground level can be used as a potherb, though it is rather aromatic. It is also used as a flavoring in salads and cooked foods. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing aromatic tea.
Flowers: The flowers make an attractive edible garnish in salads.
Herbs: As a member of the mint family, bergamot leaves have a minty smell and make a pleasant, herbal tea. Bergamot adds color and height to an herb garden and should be planted near the center of the garden surrounded by your preference of shorter herbs grown as annuals, such as basil, thyme, chives and parsley. Add a perennial herb such as rosemary in USDA plant hardiness zones 7a through 11 for year-round interest in the garden bed.
Colors: Also grown in full sun in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 11, bright yellow daylilies would work well planted in the same garden bed with the warm colors of bergamot. For a contrasting accent, midnight blue agapanthus (Agapanthus x "Monmid") adds the cool-blue color in USDA plant hardiness zones 7b through 11.
Shapes: As a 6- to 8-inch ground cover growing around the base of bergamot, the light green leaves and multiple flowers of dwarf annual phlox (Phlox drummondii) thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 5a through 11 and come in a variety of colors. The blue-gray leaves of the perennial blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) contrast nicely in both shape and color with bergamot. Blue oat grass thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 5b through 10b.
Basil: Italian Large Leaf (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Lemon (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Purple Ruffles (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Spicy Bush (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum)
Basil: Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
Chives: Garlic (Allium tuberosum)
Chives: Onion (Allium schoenoprasum var. album)
Parsley: Italian Giant (Heirloom) (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
Only a few left!
Thyme: Common (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme: Creeping (Thymus serpyllum)
This plant is widely known as an herb. Thyme is the source of the oil Serpolet, which is used in herbal medicine. The plant is also often used as a food seasoning and the dried leaves may be used to make tea! This low growing plant with creeping, woody foliage bears small, lavender colored flower during the months of June and July. The hardy plant tolerates some pedestrian traffic and produces odors ranging from heavily herbal to lightly lemon, depending on the plant!