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January 2011
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Bergamot (Monarda didyma) – an American perennial herb

This plant is a perennial which is an American herb. It is a native of North America and belongs to the family Rustaceae. This perennial is also known with other botanical names of Monarda citriodora, Monarda didyma, Monarda fistulosa and Monarda punctata. Its common names are Bee Balm, Horsemint, Orange Mint, Oswego Tea and Scarlet Monarda. The plant bears red, pink and purple flowers which has scent of oranges. The plant was used to make tea with its primary ingredient Thymol. This plant attracts butterflies, bees and birds and is used as a border plant and a container plant. It makes a good cut flower.
This plant needs full sun to partial shade. It likes damp soil and chalky soils. A bone meal is enrichment for the plant. Cutting is best way of new growth for the plant. This plant forms clumps that form mat-like growth. Divide every 3-4 years and discard old and woody stems. This plant has culinary uses. It is used in salads, sparingly and in fruit drinks, tea for relaxing and to improve flavor of pork dishes.
The leaves can be used to make a facial steam. The flowers and leaves are added to potpourri to add color as well as flavor. The tea was called Oswego Tea and Winnebago used it for relieving pimples and Omaha Indians used the leaves as a hair application.
This plant has Hydrocarbon and Thymol as its constituents.
As a medicine, it is used as a carminative for easing pains and colic. It is used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, rubefacient and as a stimulant. It relieves colds, diarrhea , flatulent colic, influenza , nausea , rheumatism ,urinary disorders and vomiting. Its essential oil is used for treatment of acne, coughs, depression, fevers, stress and tension. External usage is for as a hair wash for dandruff and for rheumatism.

Growing conditions of Bergamot

• Transplant the root cutting directly.
• Sow the seeds on the surface and cover lightly with soil.
• Seeds have to germinate and once done, plant them outside after the danger of frost passed.
• This plant needs fertile and rich soil.
• Space the plants 18 inches apart.
• Add compost and manure to enhance growth.
• Add mulch around the plant to retain moisture.
• Water regularly as the plant prefers moist soil.
• It needs full sun to partial shade.

Care for Bergamot

• The plant prefers moist soil but not soggy.
• It needs full sun to partial shade.
• Cut the plant to ground level in autumn.
• Mulch well.
• The growth will start back in spring.
• The plant needs care for powdery mildew. Cut back the stems if affected by it.

Images of the plant.

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