Alberta Native Plant Spotlight: Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) flower with photo taken from directly above.

The ragged, almost furry, flowers of Wild Bergamot (otherwise known as native Bee Balm), are a magnet for bees and butterflies. A member of the mint family, Bee Balm is edible (the flowers too!) and can be used in making tea (ie. earl grey tea!) and herbal remedies.

Growth Requirements

A moderate to fast spreader, Wild Bergamot is a flexible native flower which tolerates sun to part shade and moist to dry conditions.

Growing as tall as 3 feet in this area, bee balm will spread by rhizomes and seed to form large patches.

I find it is susceptible to powdery mildew, but that’s easy to forgive when considering all the benefits and uses of this plant! Try to avoid overhead watering to help avoid developing mildew.


Blooming from June to September, Wild Bergamot’s flowers are about 2 inches across. They have a very interesting, rather ragged and hairy appearance up close.

Wild Bergamot is a showy addition to your native wildflower garden or meadow. I would especially recommend placing it towards the back of a garden, where the showy lavender flowers will provide a beautiful wash of color and you won’t notice the mildewy foliage.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) flowers in a native wildflower garden in Southern Alberta.

Insects and Wildlife

An insect magnet, bee balm attracts many different types of bees and butterflies.

The nectar-filled flowers are also highly attractive to hummingbirds and other birds.

Deer don’t particularly care for this plant. I’ve never noticed any deer browse at all on mine!

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) flower in a native wildflower garden in Southern Alberta.

Plant With…

Wild Bergamot looks great when paired with Common Yarrow, Giant Hyssop, grasses such as Little Bluestem, and Spike Goldenrod, among others.

As always, plant in large swaths for the biggest impact, as well as to be more visible to hummingbirds and bees. I suggest planting a minimum of 5-7 plugs in one area, if you choose to go the plug-planting route (which I highly recommend, when possible!), and as many more as you’d like.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) flower in a native wildflower garden in Southern Alberta.

In Conclusion

I recommend incorporating Wild Bergamot into your native garden planting design! The birds, bees, and butterflies will thank you. Plus it’s a fairly low maintenance plant, which is ideal for a busy gardener.

Happy Gardening!