Bergamot is a citrus fruit that you may not know about. If you’ve never had it, don’t worry! It’s time to get acquainted. This is an aromatic fruit with many health benefits and uses in cooking. For this reason, you might have wondered, “Does Bergamot Need Full Sun?”
The answer is yes! It prefers to be grown in a sunny location. It’s a small tree that produces fragrant flowers and leaves used for cooking and medicinal purposes. On top of that, you can find this plant growing in Mediterranean climates like California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece.
If you live somewhere with mild winters (between 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit), then your bergamot will do just fine outside all year round.
However, if your winters get colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, then it’s best to bring the bergamot indoors during those months to freeze or die from frostbite. This way, you’ll have fresh herbs all year long!
Varieties of Bergamot
This fruit has many different varieties, including calamondin, which is smaller than most other types of bergamots. There is also the Monarda species among others. Monarda species come in a wide range of variations, with over 50 commercial cultivars on the market. However, in the United States, a large number of bee balm variants bloom like wildflowers. Let’s have a look at a few of the different varieties and how they differ.
Monarda Didyma L.
This well-liked ornamental is a perennial. It is native to the eastern United States, but it has spread throughout the rest of the regions of Europe and Asia. It also produces a range of flowers in shades of light to dark red, white, purple, and pink.
Monarda Fistulosa L.
Also known as wild bergamot the perennial plant blooms in the summer with stunning lavender or pink blossoms. Each flower cluster on its branch can yield anywhere from 20 to 50 blossoms and is surrounded by bright green herbaceous leaves.
This plant comes in a range of colors and scents, many of which are slightly distinct. Moreover, Hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, skippers, and butterflies love the sweet nectar of the wild bergamot.
Monarda Punctata L.
Horsemint spotted and spotted bee balm are all common names for this plant. Depending on its location, the spotted bee balm can be annual or perennial. It thrives well in sandy and well-drained soils.
The flower heads are stacks of yellow flowers, purple dots, and occasionally purple petal tips, each with its bract. The leaves are thin and bright green with a thyme-like scent thus attracts beneficial insects, particularly bugs and predatory wasps.
Lemon mint is the name given to this cultivar. However, it is frequently misidentified as lemon balm by gardeners. A variety also knows of other terms that herbalists find confusing.
- Bee Balm lemon
- Minty purple lemon
- Horsemint, lemon horsemint, or plains horsemint.
The lower cushion of rich green foliage on this perennial cultivar features softly serrated margins around oval leaves. The flower stems turn purple as they rise above the ground. On top of that, the nectar-rich blossoms attract a wide range of species, including bumblebees and hummingbirds.
How to Grow Bergamot in Full Shade
Bergamot can be propagated by spreading seeds or division in the spring. When planting, keep plants at least 18 inches apart. If they are to be planted in pots, select dwarf varieties for container gardening.
- It can be propagated by spreading seeds or division in the spring. When planting, keep plants at least 18 inches apart. Bee balm can also be grown in pots. Choose dwarf varieties for container gardening.
- Full sun to partial shade is ideal for this plant.
- Seeds should be planted at a shallow depth, around 1/4″ deep or twice the seed thickness. When the last frost of the spring is over, transplant outside.
- Deadhead flowers regularly extend the flowering duration.
Bergamot Growth Requirements
The growth requirements of Bergamot are as follows;
Growing Bergamot does not require a lot of things. Choose a location with ideal growing conditions such as plenty of sunshine, well-draining soil, and proximity to your food plants if you’re growing it to attract beneficial insects.
This plant does well in full sun to encourage blooming. However, a little afternoon shade will help the flowering season extend a little longer and protect perennial kinds from the burning afternoon heat in hotter locations of the south or the southwest US. It can also thrive in partial shade. For better results, plant it in an open area with good air circulation.
Bergamots are drought-tolerant; however, they thrive when watered regularly. The amount of water should be enough to keep the soil damp but not soggy. To avoid drowning your perennial types, make sure your plant’s location is well-drained. Besides that, water the plant moderately and keep the soil slightly moist without wetting the leaves.
Bergamots don’t usually like extremely damp soil, so make sure yours can drain away any excess moisture. This plant’s natural varieties aren’t fussy about soil fertility and have been observed to grow in everything from sandy soil to potting mix.
However, commercial cultivars prefer slightly richer soil, owing to years of multiplication in superior soils. If your garden is not fertile enough, add a substantial amount during planting.
There are two methods of fertilization that are commonly used. During spring, a layer of top-dressed compost followed by a couple of inches of mulch will provide ample plant nourishment as well as weed control. You can also apply a general-purpose organic fertilizer, such as a slow-release granular or liquid solution.
Bergamot does grow in all kinds of climates. Therefore it is essential to note the right temperature areas to produce it. During the growing season, temperatures between 12.8 and 37.8°C (55–100°F) are ideal, while during dormancy, temperatures between 1.7 and 10°C (35–50°F) are ideal.
How to Care for Bergamot
- Cut the plant into a few inches in the fall.
- Pinch off the tips of younger growth in the spring for bushier growth.
- Also, be sure to deadhead fading flowers from time to time to ensure a long blooming season.
- Fertilize bergamot plants twice a month with all-purpose liquid fertilizer to ensure optimum growth.
- If you have established plants, nip down their growth when they reach around 12′′ tall in the early spring to encourage lateral spreading. Prune off the top set of leaves from each stem with your fingers..
- Scoot out that early pinching over a few weeks if you want to foster a longer floral show..
- If you have a wide area of bee balm plants, you may use a pair of hand trimmers or shears to prune the entire patch at once. Once it reaches 12 inches in height, equally clip it to roughly half its original size to encourage lateral development and more leaf bulk. This will prevent your plants from becoming floppy or weedy in appearance.
- To encourage more flowering, deadhead bee balm slightly above the next flower bud as soon as the blooms fade. Trim a flowering stem back to the ground or pinch it off once it has stopped blooming; this will stimulate the plant to shoot up a new branch with blossoms.
- After the bee balm has died back in the fall or winter, trim it then return it to the soil’s top, right above it. This will enhance easy cleanup of the dead plant debris. As a result, perennial varieties will reappear in late winter or early spring.
How to Harvest Bergamot
- For the best flavor, harvest in the morning when the dew has evaporated.
- Clip the bottom of the stem to harvest it.
- Collect the stalks by the stems, tying the ends together, and hanging to dry.
- Alternatively, you can pull the leaves and flowers from the stalks and spread them out on a screen to dry naturally away from dust and sunlight.
Importance of bergamot in the garden
Bergamot has long been known for both its medicinal and culinary benefits. Below are some of the crucial benefits of why you shouldn’t miss it in your garden.
- It helps in attracting pollinators such as hummingbirds and bees.
- Because of its pleasant scent, which tastes like a blend of spearmint and peppermint, it is used as a spice.
- Its flowers are a lovely addition to salads, particularly fruit salads.
- Traditional oral and throat infections caused by cavities and gingivitis were treated with herbal tea produced from the herb. As a result, it’s a great addition to homemade mouthwash.
- By crushing the plant’s leaves and applying them to the skin, bee balm has traditionally been used to relieve the pain and inflammation of bee stings.
- This herb also has a calming effect on the digestive tract, making it an effective treatment for indigestion, bloating, and nausea.
- It’s calming; therefore, it’s a good idea to drink tea brewed from it if you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
- Tea made from bee balm can also be used as a mild sleep aid.
Common Pests and Diseases
The following are pests and diseases affecting bergamot;
- Alternaria Spot
- Black Spot
- Powdery Mildew
- Pseudocercospora leaf and fruit spot
If you see these diseases, apply copper fungicides where appropriate. You can also irrigate the plant regularly, especially during dry months to decrease leaf fall.
Bergamot is an excellent plant to add to your garden. It will not only add flavor and spice your food but also help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Generally, the most important thing is to follow the facts mentioned above to help your herb thrive well.
Furthermore, proper growth requirements such as adequate sunlight, well-drained soils, and enough water are essential. If you do this, you’ll be able to prepare spicy food and maintain a healthy lifestyle.