Arbor Gate's Picks of the Month
Bee Balm or Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
Not all herbs are used primarily in cooking. With their culinary, aromatic, medicinal, economic, and purely decorative qualities, herbs are often referred to as “the useful plants.” Each month’s herb pick for 2018 will feature an example of the many and varied uses for herbs that can be grown in our region.
And in all cases, no matter what the herb, Arbor Gate Complete Soil and Arbor Gate Blend Fertilizer are recommended from transplanting throughout the life of the plant, whether in the garden or containers. Both will provide what your plants need: organic, well balanced, and enriched growing mediums, year around.
One of the loveliest of the flowering herbs, Bee Balm (also known as Bergamot), is a great attractor for hummingbirds and bees. Known also as beebread plant, Oswego tea, horsemint, and simply monarda, its leaves have a strong fragrance reminiscent of the bergamot orange. The scent is familiar to fanciers of Earl Grey tea, which contains bergamot.
Bee Balm is a hardy American native plant with numerous hybrids that provide a large range of bloom colors — the gardener may feel spoiled for choice when making selections for planting. The various branches of the family are recognizably related as to foliage and flowers.
Easy to cultivate, Bee Balm grows quickly in sun or partial shade, and prefers a somewhat moist soil. It spreads by stolons, like mint, but is nowhere nearly so invasive.
The flowers and leaves retain their fragrance when dried — so they can be used fresh in cool summer drinks or dried for potpourri. This beautiful and versatile plant deserves a place in every garden!