Monarda, Wild Bergamot / Bee Balm (Organic)
Monarda fistulosa. Perennial in zones 3-10.
The name Bee Balm says it all. Bees, butterflies, other beneficial insects, even hummingbirds love to come and drink the nectar of this member of the mint family. We saw a large number of native bumble bees foraging among the summer blooms. Steal a few flowering stems from the bees for a mellow hued pink cut flower, or use the edible, tubular flowers as an addition to salads or sprinkled on top of any dish as a light minty garnish. Blooms the second year after sowing. Grows 3-4′ tall. Wild Bergamot leaves and flowers have some nice medicinal uses and make a nice tea. A native wildflower found throughout most of North America, although not common on the West Coast. Said to grow best in dry alkaline soil, but we have found it likes our moderately acidic Oregon clay-loam just fine.
Surface sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost or direct sow after danger of frost has passed. Germination in 7-14 days. Thin / transplant starts to 12”-18″ spacing. Plants prefer a moist, rich soil and full sun to light shade. Does not usually flower until the second year. Susceptible to powdery mildew.
Collect seeds from seed heads that are fully dry. Thresh by hand or by dancing, winnow to clean. Finish air-drying if necessary before sealing in airtight container. Some cross-pollination may occur. Isolate from other varieties of same species by ¼ mile.