Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Similar in appearance to the Beebalms, Monarda fistulosa provides color and contrast for the herb garden, wild garden, native plant garden, meadow, or perennial border.  Its aromatic leaves can be used to make mint tea. The Virginia Native Plant Society named  Wild Bergamot Wildflower of the Year in 1993.

Print Version: Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot, Perennial Height: 2–4 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom color: Pink, lavender Characteristics Clump-forming, showy perennial with erect branches Toothed, ovate, gray-green leaves with minty odor Two-lipped, tubular flowers in rounded, solitary, terminal heads, which open from the center to the periphery, bloom from June to September Spreads from creeping rhizomes and seeds Attributes Tolerates various soil types (including clay), some drought, and Black Walnut; no serious pests but powdery mildew and rust can be problems; deer seldom severely damage Ethnobotanic, therapeutic, and herbal uses (aromatic leaves may be used in tea) Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees; larval host for Orange Mint and Hermit Sphinx moths Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil requirements: Well-drained Light requirements: Sun, Partial ShadeWater requirements: Dry, MoistDeadhead to prolong blooms/prevent self-sowing; leave late seedheads for birds if self-sowing not a concern; divide every 2–3 years in early March Grow in full sun in well aerated soil and prune for good air circulation to lessen powdery mildew Use massed in perennial border, herb, meadow, native plant, or wild garden Excellent Replacement for Hesperis matronalis - Dame's Rocket Lythrum salicaria - Purple Loosestrife *It is native in DC, Maryland and in the Piedmont of Delaware. It is native in about two-thirds of the counties in PA. In VA, it is frequent in the Piedmont, common in the mountains, and rare in the Coastal Plain (it is absent in Prince William County). ** Bombus auricomus (black and gold bumble bees) Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–9

A variety of pollinators visiting Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot), at the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden on June 25 and 28, 2016. © 2016 Mary Free

Pollinators in order of appearance are

  • Bombus bimaculatus (Two-spotted bumble bee)
  • Augochlorini sp. (Green sweat bee)
  • Bombus griseocollis (Brown-belted bumble bee)
  • Bombus auricomus (Black and gold bumble bee)
  • Toxomerus geminatus (Syrphid fly)
  • Apis melifera (European honey bee)

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets