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Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

The leaves of wild bergamot are lance-shaped, serrated, and about 2-4 inches long. They are green, have a hairy texture, and can have a red tinge on the edges. The ridges on the bottom have a silvery hue that clearly delineates the leaf structure.

The leaves are also very aromatic and have a smell similar to oregano.



The wild bergamot flowers are purple and have a strong, sweet smell. They grow in clusters and are about 2-3 inches across.

The petals are long and tubular, and they curve inward at the tips.

Flowering Season

The flowering season of monarda fistulosa is typically from July and August. The blooms last about 6 weeks.


Monarda fistulosa is a perennial herb that is native to eastern North America.

It typically grows in moist, open areas, such as meadows, prairies, and woodlands.

Today its range is massive, from the Southern States up to the Northern Boreal Forests in Canada.

Wildlife Value

Wild bergamot, or bee’s balm is a valuable nectar source for bees and other pollinators. The flowers are also attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

It is also a larval host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly.

How to Propagate Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

There are many techniques that can be used to propagate wild bergamot. Some of these techniques include division, seed, and cuttings.

  • Division involves taking a large mother plant and splitting its clones into many seperates plants.
  • Seed involves harvesting the wildflower seeds, roughly 4 weeks after flowering.
  • Cuttings involve taking pieces of fresh, vigorous growth from plants and setting them in an envionment to form new roots.

Let’s get into more details for each technique:



Division is probably the easiest way to propagate wild bergamot because the plant naturally spreads by rhizome.

This means it naturally sends out shoots, further down that are still attached to the mother plants. All you need to do is identify the clones, separate the rhizome and uproot them.

The best time to divide wild bergamot is during early Spring, as soon as new growth appears.

Here’s how:

  1. Select a healthy, vigorous bergamot plant.
  2. Dig around it, and uproot a clump of stems, shake off the dirt.
  3. Divide the plant into two or more sections, making sure each section has at least one healthy bud, and some roots.
  4. Replant the divisions in well-drained soil, making sure the buds are pointing up.
  5. Water the plants regularly and fertilize them once a month.


Germinating seeds is a sure way to propagate wild bergamot.

Their seeds are hidden inside these capsules that are left over after the flower blooms.

They are very tiny so timing here is important if you want to get the most out of each seedhead.

Collect them when they are near this stage, but not completely dry yet. Leave them to dry at home in a brown paper bag for some time.

Next, shake the bag carefully and you will get hundreds of tiny seeds.

How to germinate them is just like any other wildflower:

  • Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.
  • Spread the seeds out on a damp paper towel and fold the towel over.
  • Next, put the towel in a plastic bag and seal the bag.
  • Store the bag in a warm place (70-75 degrees F).
  • Check the towel every day to make sure it remains damp.
  • Finally, the seeds should germinate in 10-14 days.

Wild bergamot seeds can germinate without a cold-stratification period.


You can also propagate wild bergamot by taking plant cuttings from vigorous growth.

The best type of cuttings for this are softwood cuttings, which can be taken from early spring to mid-summer.

  • First, spot a healthy bergamot plant and inspect each stem for new growth.
  • Next, use a sharp, clean knife and cut a stem below a node. (You can take a longer stem and split it into 6 inch pieces.) Make sure each bottom cut is below a node.
  • Strip off the lower leaves and cut off the flower buds, this is important to retain moisture and focus growth on roots.
  • Prepare a propagating tub for the cuttings. A good propagating medium is 3:1 perlite to potting soil. It’s also good to have a top to cover the tub, this will keep moisture level high.
  • Premake some holes with a dibbler.
  • Next, dip the ends of each stem in rooting hormone, knock off the extra, then insert the stems into the mix and press down firmly.
  • Water thoroughly, cover the tub and place in a well lit area, but not where it will get direct sunlight.

If the tub is fairly well sealed, humidity levels will stay high, and fog up the glass. That’s exactly what you want, cuttings need a high level of moisture to root.

Warmth also helps, if you have some heating mats, it can’t hurt to use one under your tubs to heat it up.

Periodically check on your tub, but you shouldn’t have to water often if it’s well sealed.

Wild bergamot cuttings take about 3-4 weeks to root.

After they’ve rooted, don’t rush to transplant, tilt the cover on the tub for a few days to let them acclimate to dryer air.

After they are acclimated, you can individually pot them or plant them outside.

That’s it! That should have you covered to propagate wild bergamot.

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa
  • Medicinal Use

    Wild bergamot was often employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially those connected with the digestive system[257]. It is still sometimes used in modern herbalism. The leaves and flowering stems are carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant[4, 222]. An infusion is used internally in the treatment of colds, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, aching kidneys, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throats[213, 238, 257]. Externally, it is applied as a poultice to skin eruptions, cuts etc and as a wash for sore eyes[238, 257]. The leaves can be harvested before the plant flowers, or they can be harvested with the flowering stems. They can be used fresh or dried[238]. The plant contains the essential oil ‘bergamot oil’ which can be inhaled to treat bronchial complaints[213]. The leaves also contain ‘thymol’, an essential oil that can be used to expel gas from the digestive tract[213].

    The leaves have been used as an insect repellent[257].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked. The entire plant above ground level can be used as a potherb[183], though it is rather aromatic. It is also used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods[46, 105, 183, 213]. The flowers make an attractive edible garnish in salads[183]. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing aromatic tea[183, 257].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow mid to late spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 10 – 40 days at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late summer in areas where the winters are not too severe and will produce larger plants. Cuttings of soft basal shoots in spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Bloom Color: Lavender, Pink. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.