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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Monarda ‘Bergamo’: Perfect for Pollinators

Posted by Graham Rice on 10 Jan 2013 at 12:21 PM

Monarda 'Bergamo' is colourful and attracts pollinators. Image ©Ball ColegraveHere's a new Monarda, a first-year-flowering perennial, which is prolific, colourful, easy-to-grow and attracts pollinating insects.

'Bergamo' (left, click to enlarge) is a hardy perennial, not an annual as some catalogues say, and reaching 20-24in/50-60cm in height, sometimes as tall as 3ft/90cm, this is a well branched plant, needing spacing of 14-16in/36-41cm to show itself off well. Often considered more elegant than the more familiar forms of Monarda didyma, this hybrid has its flowers gathered in a series of tiers making up long, elegant spikes in two tones of rosy purple.

Flowering should begin in mid-June from a mid-February sowing indoors and will continue into early September, especially if the faded spikes are cut out. It can also be sown outside in May, when of course it will come into flower later.

Happiest in full sun, it appreciates good soil but also good drainage; the reason that it is sometimes thought to be an annual is that although it flowers well in heavy wet soils in its first summer, it may not tolerate that wet soil in winter.

‘Bergamo' is also a valuable cut flower, although it rarely lasts longer than a week in water, its foliage is pleasantly aromatic and it's a great attractor of bees and butterflies. It is also a winner of a Gold Medal from the Europe-wide trialing organisation Fleuroselect.

You can order seed of Monarda ‘Bergamo' from Crocus, from Johnsons, and from Unwins.

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