Monarda fistulosa, also known as Bergamot is famed for its medicinal qualities. While in the perennial border these lovely plants produce a mass of mauve-purple blooms (even in their first year from an early sowing) and have uniquely scented foliage.
Bees and butterflies are especially attracted to the vibrant flowers and nectar of this pretty plant. Excellent as a bedding plant or in the butterfly garden it also performs well in the allotment where it works wonders attracting beneficial insects, and bees of course!
Monarda does best in full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate a wide variety of conditions from wet to dry, will perform in poor dry soils and be luxuriant in good soils. The species has the added advantage of having good resistance to mildew.
Sowing: Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.
Monarda is easily grown from seed. They can be started early in pots or sown directly where they are to flower once all danger of frost is passed.
Surface sow at 1.5mm (1/16in) deep in pots or trays containing good seed compost. “Just cover” the seed. Make sure the compost is kept moist but not wet and seal inside a polythene bag until germination which usually takes 10-24 days at around 20°C (68°F). Once seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant to 7cm (3in) pots. Harden off before planting into their final positions in early summer. Space 30cm (12in).
Plant 1/8in deep in good quality compost. Germination takes 10 to 30 days. Thin out when large enough to handle, so that they are finally 30cm (12in) apart. Provide additional water if necessary until the plants reach 30cm (10in)
Resist the temptation to crowd plants too closely--they will spread of their own accord soon enough. Clumps should be divided every three years to remove excess woody growth which will over time retard good growth.
If you wish to collect seeds or leave to self sow, allow the seeds to mature completely before cutting. (the spherical heads become dry and brown)
Use young leaves for flavouring for meats. The petals are edible in salads.
A tea from the spicy leaves of this plant is known as Oswega Tea and used to improve digestion. Both leaves and blooms contain thymol-related antibiotic-antiseptic compounds.
When crushed, the leaves can make an effective insect repellent
In the allotment plant Monarda with tomatoes to improve both growth and flavour. It is great for attracting beneficial insects and bees.
Borders, Informal / Cottage garden, Herb garden, Prairie planting, Short grass meadow, Bee and Butterfly garden.
Table cuttings, Dried flower arrangements and to perfume pot-pourri.
Monarda fistulosa is a beautiful perennial flower native to parts of eastern Canada and Midwest America, south to Georgia. It is similar in appearance to Monarda didyma and its many cultivars, it is simply less brightly coloured.
This genus takes its name after Nicolas Monardes a 16th century botanist/ physician, from Seville in Spain. He wrote extensively in the 16th century about New World medicinal plants and is considered one of the founders of experimental pharmacology.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 65mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Monarda Species fistulosa Synonym Bergamot Common Name Bee Balm, Oswego Tea, Horsemint Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Pink- lavender Natural Flower Time July to September Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 60 to 75cm (24 to 30in) Position Full sun or partial shade Soil Moist to dry sandy soil. Time to Sow Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn. Notes Herb and Companion Plant