Why plant Audubon® Native Wild Bergamot?
Butterflies and hummingbirds will be your grateful guests when you plant Wild Bergamot. Its lavender-pink summertime blooms are especially appealing to some of our largest and showiest butterflies, like giant, tiger, black, zebra, and spicebush swallowtails, monarchs, and great spangled fritillaries. You can get quite close to them for photos while they’re feeding, so absorbed are they in getting that sweet nectar! You’ll have to dodge the dive-bombing hummingbirds while you snap your photos, however. Wild Bergamot is manna to hummingbirds. They will fight over it, so plant a few patches around your property, and everyone can get their fill.
Wild Bergamot is an especially successful American wildflower; it has made itself at home throughout most of the country. Its native range includes at least parts of almost all of the lower 48 states, excluding only Florida and California. Wild Bergamot gets its name from its minty-smelling leaves. Bergamot is a citrus fruit used in flavoring Earl Grey tea; European settlers in America thought the fragrance of the wildflower they found here reminded them of the Bergamot orange grown in Italy, so they named it Wild Bergamot. They used the leaves and flowers to make a tea.
How to use Audubon® Native Wild Bergamot in the landscape?
Besides enjoying visits from Hummingbirds to your Wild Bergamot, you may also look forward to visits from Hummingbird moths! These chubby little creatures look like tiny hummingbirds as they dart and hover among the blossoms, but they are, in fact, insects. Wild Bergamot is one of their favorite nectar sources.
Hardiness Zone: 3-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Wild Bergamot
Wild Bergamot is easy and accommodating, which isn’t surprising, given its huge natural range. It will perform best in all-day sun in soils of average moisture. Wild Bergamot is somewhat drought tolerant, but regular water in summer will produce the lushest, healthiest specimens. Full sun, regular irrigation, and good air circulation will help ward off powdery mildew, which can occasionally be an issue with this species, though only a cosmetic one. Plants may spread—sometimes rather quickly—both by underground roots and seeds. Unwanted plants are easy to pull out, however.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late year. Continue this for three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
Each fall, just before winter sets in clean up the previous years foliage and compost it. Be sure your perennials are mulched well for winter protection. Two inches of an organic mulch will do the job. Consider leaving the plant debris in place through the winter and doing your clean up on the weather warms in the spring. While it doesn't make things neat and tidy, the debris provides overwintering protection for insects, their eggs and pupae including our native Viceroy butterfly.