Understanding Plant Labels

Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa

Learn What It All Means

Plant tags contain essential information to help you make the best choices when selecting plant varieties. But sometimes, they can be confusing. 

Plant label.

Nurseries and plant growers often try to squeeze a ton of information onto their labels: height, spread, colour, bloom time, sun and moisture requirements, and of course, the plant’s name.

Understanding how to read the plant’s name on the label is especially important when you’re shopping for native plants.

Since many plants have a variety of common names, it’s good practice to refer to the plant’s scientific name, written in Latin and italicized, to ensure you’re getting the exact seeds or plants you want. For example, Monarda fistulosa (scientific name) is known to many gardeners as wild bergamot or bee balm (common names).

Some plant labels will show the italicized scientific name followed by non-italicized capital lettered names within quotation marks or even trademark designations. This indicates the plant is a cultivar.

For example, a Monarda fistulosa cultivar label might read Monardafistulosa ‘Claire Grace’ or Monarda ‘Bubblegum Blast’.

To keep it simple, purchase plants from reputable nurseries that specialize in native plants.

Scroll to Top