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How to Grow Bergamot

By Michelle Powell-Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017

Wild bergamot is also known as bee balm or Oswego tea. This herb has a brightly colored and quite lovely flower and a fresh, citrus scent reminiscent of the bergamot orange. You can use wild bergamot in your garden to attract bees and hummingbirds or dry the leaves and flowers for tea. There are several varieties of bergamot, some with red flowers and others with smaller and less showy mauve or lavender flowers.

How to Grow Bergamot

Dig up sections of root that are growing away from the main bergamot plant to propagate this perennial most effectively. If you have a root cutting, this can be transplanted directly. If you do need to start bergamot from seed, sow the seeds on the surface of the soil and cover lightly, providing heat from beneath as the seeds germinate. Transplant when the seedlings are large enough are ready and harden off before planting outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.

Plant bergamot in a very fertile and rich soil. Space plants approximately 18 inches apart. Adding compost and manure to your soil will help bergamot thrive in your garden. You should also mulch well with a thick layer of straw.

Water your bergamot regularly. This plant prefers a relatively moist soil, but is tolerant of some amount of shade in the garden.

Pick the leaves and flowers of bergamot as desired for use fresh in the kitchen. If you want to dry bergamot leaves, do so before the plant flowers. The flowers should be dried as soon as they are fully opened.

Cut the plant back to ground level in the autumn and mulch well. Your bergamot will return, fresh and fragrant, in the spring.


Things You Will Need

  • Bergamot seeds or cuttings
  • Seedling tray
  • Heat source
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Mulch

About the Author


With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.