Wild Bergamot

A flower planted in a garden.

Monarda fistulosa

The square stems of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) reach about two to four feet tall with fragrant leaves and long-lasting, lavender coloured flowering heads. Each cluster is made up of many curved, tube-like flowers that radiate out from the center. These can be dead-headed to extend the flowering period. Bees with long tongues, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds fly from flower to flower to feast on the abundant nectar.

Each flower cluster turns into a brown, rounded seed head that adds winter interest to your yard. Our year-round finches and sparrows feed on the seeds throughout the winter. As one of the easier plants to start from seed, collect a few seeds to add new plants to other parts of your yard or to give to neighbours and friends.

Wild bergamot grows in a variety of soils, preferring moist to slightly dry conditions. It tolerates many harsh conditions such as compacted soil, drought and salt but be sure to provide it with lots of sun to see it thrive. Plant with black-eyed Susan, milkweeds, goldenrods and coneflowers to create a colourful meadow garden space. Add in tall grasses like big bluestem and yellow Indian grass to add structure and texture.

Wild bergamot is prone to powdery mildew, so some extra care may be needed, especially for years that are humid or rainy. To reduce your chances of powdery mildew taking hold, be sure to water at ground level in the mornings, provide soil with good drainage and thin out the plant if needed to create more air circulation.

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