Wild bergamot, more commonly known as bee balm or Monarda fitulosa, is a perennial flowering plant native to North America. It grows up to 5 feet tall and produces pinkish-purple flowers in mid- to late summer. Wild bergamot flowers attract bees and butterflies to the garden, and the lush foliage is used in herbal teas and garnishes. The plant is easy to grow and requires minimal care.
Plant wild bergamot in an area that receives full sun to partial shade and has rich, well-drained soil. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart. Prepare the planting site by incorporating 2 inches of organic compost into the soil with a tiller several weeks before planting.
Water wild bergamot plants deeply once every seven to 10 days during the growing season, or enough to keep the soil consistently moist. Plants are prone to mildew if grown in dry soil. Soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches during each watering.
Feed wild bergamot plants once per year in spring using a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Refer to the manufacturer's directions for proper dosage. Avoid overfertilization, which can cause rampant growth and increase the chances of powdery mildew.
Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of wild bergamot plants to conserve moisture and increase the length of time between waterings. Begin the layer about 3 inches from the stem to allow room for growth. Use hay, grass clippings or bark mulch.
Remove spent flowers as soon as possible to prolong the blooming period. Pinch them off as close to the stem as possibles. Cut wild bergamot plants back to several inches above soil level after flowering has ended using pruning shears. This will rejuvenate the plants and encourage heavy blooming the following season.
Things You Will Need
- Organic compost
- Pruning shears
- Although wild bergamot will tolerate partial shade, it will produce more flowers if grown in full sun. However, the plants will spread faster in partial shade.
- Divide wild bergamot plants once every two to three years as they become crowded.
- Wild bergamot is prone to powdery mildew. Cut infected plants back to the stem to remedy the problem.