Monarda, native to nearly all of North America except California, made itself at home here
After a false start a couple of years ago, the wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) settled in and made itself comfortable in the bee and butterfly garden last year. They bloomed all summer, the plants died back, and I let the dried flower stalks stand until winter when I pulled and tossed them in the compost pile.
Early this past spring I pulled some of that compost and spread it around the gardens.
And now I have wild bergamot everywhere. That’s fine by me because it draws bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
Interestingly, I assumed because it was native to the midwest and east, that it required a lot more water than it does. Turns out, however, it doesn’t really like water and does just fine in our dry, desert-like San Diego climate.
In fact, looking at the USDA plant map, Monarda isn’t just native to places as far north as the Artic circle, but also dry climates like the Great Basin, Sonora Desert, and west Texas.
USDA Plant Map – Monarda Fistulosa
What’s weird isn’t that it’s not native to California (the Sierra Nevada Mountains are a pretty good plant barrier), but that it’s not native to Florida (where there are no mountains or deserts) either. Go figure.
Wild Bergamot Details
|Common Name||Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm|
|Botanical Name||Monarda fistulosa|
|Native to||North America|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||3-5 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full to Partial|
|Soil Type||Any (not picky)|
|Soil pH||Any (not picky)|
|Water||Moderate. Needs more when young|
|Flower Color||Purple, Pink & Blue|
|Hardiness||Zones 3-10 (USDA)|