Butterfly Garden Plant Monarda fistulosa Wild Bergamot
Native to the entire continental United States, with the exception of California and Hawaii, Wild Bergamot is an easy to grow perennial that mixes effortlessly with other summer blooming natives such as Swamp Milkweed.
Wild Bergamot is in the mint family and spreads by slender underground rhizomes, though it is clump forming and not invasive. Tufted lavender flowers are produced at the end of each stem.
NABA member Mary Anne Borge observes Wild Bergamot in southern New Jersey in late August and reports: “Wild Bergamot is a favorite of butterflies, hosting a steady stream of swallowtails, skippers and sulphurs. It is also a favorite of moths like the Hummingbird Clearwing (see photo above in slideshow). These little sphinx moths look like hummingbirds when flying, and have so much personality that they are as much fun to watch as butterflies. To add to the show provided by Wild Bergamot, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also visit the flowers for nectar.
Like other members of the mint family, what appears to be a single flower of Wild Bergamot is actually a cluster of many smaller blossoms. The flowers of Wild Bergamot are light violet, long and tubular, a perfect design for butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. The flower clusters are arranged in rounded heads, with the first flowers in the cluster blooming at the top of the head. Over subsequent weeks, the flowers at the top of the cluster will drop off, allowing the lower rows of flowers to create a circle of blossoms, all the while providing a continuing source of food for many pollinators.
The bloom period is several weeks, primarily in July and August. The flower heads are attractive in winter, too, with the upright tubular dried calyxes of the individual flowers forming a warm tan, firm textured, rounded head. They are a great excuse not to deadhead.”
Importance as a butterfly nectar source:
A wide variety of butterflies find Wild Bergamot an attractive nectar souce.
Importance as a caterpillar food source:
Wild Bergamot is not known as a caterpillar food source.
|USDA Hardiness Zone||3 to 8|
|Bloom Period||June to September, depending on location|
|Bloom Color||Lavender to pink|
|Plant Height||36 to 60|
|Plant Spread||24 to 36|
|Light Exposure||Sun to light shade|
|Animal/Disease Problems||Deer resistant, powdery mildew can be a problem|
Plant rating scale ranges from 0 to 3. Plants rating 3 are the most useful for butterfly gardens. For more details on the ratings, see Native Plant Ratings