Monarda fistulosa, also known as Wild Bergamot and Bee Balm, is one of our most versatile and valuable native perennials. Growing across a wide area and in diverse climates of North America, Wild Bergamot is a highly adaptable plant. The ‘Claire Grace’ cultivar was selected for its tolerance of both wet and drier soils, sturdier habit (less likely to flop), slightly darker purple flowers, better resistance to powdery mildew, and more attractive, glossy, green foliage. Full sun is preferred but part sun is adequate. Bee Balm can thrive in almost any soil type and isn’t picky about soil ph. The plant grows 2 to 4 feet tall and rapidly forms clumps. It is also a prolific self-seeder under normal garden conditions. Foliage is highly fragrant, having a scent reminiscent of oregano. From mid-summer to fall, Bergamot is covered unusual lavender-colored blooms, which are highly attractive to pollinators and hummingbirds. Butterflies and bees truly flock to this plant when in bloom. Bee Balm also has herbal uses and can be used to make teas. Native Americans believed the plant to have medicinal qualities.
Photo: Bluestone Perennials