Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bergamot / Bee Balm

*Bergamot aka Bee Balm aka Monarda
(Monarda didyma)
*also known as Oswego Tea

*best in zones 4-9
*a good substitute for oregano in cooking
*a beautiful flower
*many varieties, but M. didyma is my favorite

Parts Used:
*aerial parts (leaves only for medicinal purposes), fresh or dried

*sun to part shade (use part shade esp. if you live in a hot climate)
*rich soil with fair amount of moisture

*propagation by seed: use cold stratification for 3 months before sowing. There will be sporadic germination for 2-3 weeks, give seeds additional warmth to encourage germination (approx. 65 degrees Fahrenheit)
*you can also propagate by tip cuttings, this has a lower rate of success. If doing it this way, do it in the summer
*you can also propagate by division in early spring

*divide and replant every 3 years and discard the dead center
*this is not suitable for growing indoors
*cut back to the ground in the fall and feed with manure or compost *OR* clear back dead material from the plants in the winter

*harvest aerial parts at any time
*harvest edible flowers as required
*if drying leaves, it is best to collect the leaves in late spring and dry (before flowers open)
*collect flowers for drying as soon as they are fully opened

*parts used: leaves
*relieves nausea, flatulence, menstrual pain, insomnia
*helps with colic, fevers, digestion, and respiratory conditions

*the flowers are edible
*the leaves are also used
*used in: salads, teas, wine, lemonade, stuffings, jams, and jellies

For additional information, see: references and warnings

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