- Low stock - 9 items left
- Inventory on the way
Usually available: August to April
Life cycle: Perennial
Height: 70 - 90cm
Position: Sun / part shade
Soil preference: Moist / well drained
This is how we pack and send your Herb Plants to all states except TAS & WA
You will receive
- 1 Bergamot Herb Plant in a 50 X 75mm tube - General growing instructions
All of our Herb Plants are grown organically with certified organic potting mixes and fertilizers
Botanical Name: Monarda didyma
Bergamot is an aromatic, perennial herb, growing to from 70cm to 1 meter high. When crushed the leaves and stems give off a fragrance reminiscent of the Bergamot Orange. The summer blooms are red and appear on showy flower heads of about 30 flowers. The 3-4 cm blooms take on a tubular and slightly ragged appearance, to good effect. The bracts are also a reddish colour and sit at the top of thick stalks. The dark green, ovate leaves sit opposite on the square stems. They have coarsely toothed margins and are glabrous, with reddish veins. They are quite long at 6-15 cm long and 3-8cm wide.
Bergamot belongs to the mint family and has a pungent citrus like aroma and flavour. It is often called ‘bee-balm’ or ‘scarlet bee-balm’, ‘crimson bee-balm’ or scarlet monarda. It is very attractive to bees and other insects. The colourful flowers are nectar rich and also attract humming birds in its native environment. There are many annual, biennial and perennial bergamot varieties, all sharing some common features. Cultivars are often developed for their different coloured flowers, which may be pink, red, white or purple.
In the United States, bergamot often goes by the name Oswego Tea because it was used as a tea by the Oswego Native Americans. They introduced the plant and its tea to the early Shaker colonies at the time of the Boston Tea Party, when black tea became scarce. Monarda fistulosa, also confusingly called bee-balm, grows in this region as well. However, it is not suitable for making tea. The Oswego tribe also used bergamot as food, a perfume, preservatives and medicinally. If searching for more information, include ‘Oswego Tea’ in your key words.
Bergamot is an ancient herb and was first described in 1569 by Nicholas Monardes, who provided the scientific name and the entry into the Herbal of New World Plants. Its name was acquired due to the similarity in fragrance to the unrelated Bergamot Orange, known as Citrus bergamia. The native habitat of bergamot is the eastern North American regions, from Maine to Ohio. However, it is naturalised further west in the United States and also I parts of Europe and Asia.
Bergamot is grown extensively as an ornamental plant, but there are some interesting medicinal uses and an opportunity to use bergamot in the kitchen.
Bergamot does best in cooler climates and thrives in deciduous forests in its native region. This herb thrives in soil that is moist and likes to live near stream banks, thickets or even in ditches where the ground collects water and stays moist even in summer. For the best results, enrich the soil with lots of organic matter and avoid chalky soils. It does best in full sun, but can take part shade.
Bergamot does not like humidity, so tropical and warmer regions may not always produce the best results. It is also vulnerable to frost and in many areas the plant may die down and be semi-dormant in winter. However, it will send up new stems in spring and In areas where the plants leaves dies down the aroma is still present, courtesy of the small surface rootlets.
Bergamot flowers mid to late summer, with the seeds ripening after flowering ceases. However, it can be useful to cut the flower heads off in the first year to allow the plant to become established. The fine seeds are unreliable for propagation because they are easily hybridised and may not be true to the parent type. However, they can be sown in seed raising mix and planted out once seedlings have grown sufficiently. Root division in spring or taking cuttings may yield better results. The plant will send out creeping runners and these can be removed from the outside of the clump, potted up and planted 80 cm apart. This is the most successful way of propagating bergamot. If you would like to contain the plant a metal ring can be used or alternatively, a large container may suit your needs.
The plant can form a mat like growth and will eventually become bare in the centre as the newer outside growth is favoured by the plant. Dividing the plant every 3-4 years keeps it looking attractive and supplies new plants. A good pruning in autumn, close to ground level, will ensure fresh new spring growth. In summer, bergamot can be subject to powdery mildew in dry conditions and affected leaves or branches should be removed. This may be unexpected because we associate mildew with wet weather.
To harvest bergamot for dried floral arrangements, choose a 30cm stem and pick the leaves and blooms in summer, after flowering. Make sure the flowers are completely open and dry them in a warm oven. The drying process needs to be fast to retain the colour.
There are many varieties of Monarda and each may have slightly different uses. For example, Lemon Bergamot offers an opportunity to add both the fragrance and taste of lemon to a variety of dishes. The flowers and fresh young leaves may be used sparingly in salads and they are said to improve the flavour of pork dishes. The petals are a colourful garnish for salads and other dishes. The fresh leaves are excellent for adding to fresh summer fruits drinks. It may be used as flavouring in wines, jellies and fruit dishes.
Using the leaves and blossoms creates a tea similar in taste to Earl Grey tea, which is the product of the distilled Bergamot orange oil. You may use 5-6 large fresh leaves or a teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of boiling water to create a refreshing tea.
Bergamot has a long history of medicinal use by Native American tribes, who introduced it to the new settlers. The Shakers found the Oswego Tea to be a useful black tea substitute and also beneficial for treating colds and sore throats. Other settlers used to steam the leaves and inhale the fumes to clear the sinuses. Pregnant women should avoid bergamot because it can stimulate uterine contractions. However, in the 19th century bergamot was given to young brides and young mothers as a tonic.
The Blackfeet tribe recognised the strong antiseptic qualities of the herb. They used it for creating poultices to treat skin infections and minor wounds. A tisane was used to treat mouth infections, dental problems and gingivitis. Bergamot or bee-balm is the natural source of thymol, an antiseptic and today it is the main active ingredient in modern mouth wash products. The Native American Winnebago tribe used bergamot as a natural herbal stimulant, a carmative and digestive herb. Other tribes used it for increasing urine flow, combating fever, for heart disease, for insomnia and to stimulate appetite and regulate menstrual flow.
The flavonoids are higher in the flowers than the leaves, so they are a valuable part of the herb. Apart from the specific uses above, bergamot has been used for nausea, vomiting, digestive complaints, cold and flu, coughing, as a decongestant, to clear sinuses, to help chest complaints, as a diuretic and for treatment of fungal and bacterial infections.
Bergamot is often used in cleansers and lotions used in skin products. The leaves may be used for relaxing baths and steam facials at home. Bergamot can also be used for dried floral arrangements and potpourri where they offer long lasting colour. Lemon bergamot, in particular, offers very long lasting cut flowers.
Bergamot is a good all round companion for plants that need any form of insect pollination, due to its bee attractant qualities. It is also thought to be a good companion to tomato plants
All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Please seek professional advice before commencing any treatment.