Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Medium
Flowering period: July to September
Host plant for 11 caterpillar species
With tubular flowers pointing aloft bearing wavy, lavender petals, wild bergamot’s exuberant flowerhead proclaims a festival of nectar to foraging bumblebees. The bees show a marked preference for these over other simultaneously blooming flowers, making wild bergamot one of their primary targets. The elongated shape of the flowers favors long-tongued pollinators, with butterflies, moths, and large carpenter bees among the frequent visitors in addition to bumblebees. Hummingbird clearwing moths provide an especially interesting visual spectacle within a patch of wild bergamot due to the fact that they hover rather than land while obtaining nectar. The moths are so named because they bear a striking resemblance to hummingbirds as they dart and bob, wings ablur, in the course of their nectar seeking.
Within its native NE Ohio range, wild bergamot can be found growing in meadows, along forest edges, and in woodlands possessing an open canopy structure. Wild bergamot grows well under conditions of full sun to partial shade and soil moisture ranging from moderately wet to moderately dry. The plant is medium in height (2-4’), and during its summer blooming period, its lavender coloration provides a lovely complement to the oft encountered yellow hues of the pollinator garden.
Photo by Ashley Keesling.