Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

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), and Apis melifera (European honey bee).

This showy mint family member boasts a fragrance similar to bergamot oranges. Its aromatic leaves are used in herbal tea. Flowers attract many pollinators, especially bees. Seed heads attract small birds. The Virginia Native Plant Society named Wild Bergamot* Wildflower of the Year in 1993.

*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).

Print Version (Legal Size): 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 Bilabiate (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 (flowers and aromatic leaves edible) 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 Shade Water requirements: Dry, Moist Deadhead to prolong blooms/prevent self-sowing; leave late seed heads 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 Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–9 Excellent Replacement for Hesperis matronalis - Dame's Rocket; Lythrum salicaria - Purple LoosestrifeLearn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets