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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Oswego tea, American Melissa, bee balm, horse mint

Latin Name: Monarda didyma

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Close Relatives: Mint, basil, thyme

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. tea, flavouring), Ornamental, Aromatic, Medicinal (e.g. digestive issues).

Bergamot in bloom
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes


Propagation method

Most commonly by divisions or cuttings; less commonly by transplants from seeds, direct seeding.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Seed in late winter; take cuttings in the fall; divide plants in spring or fall.

Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

40-50 cm

Between row spacing

90 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

In general, perennial crops can tolerate low soil temperatures at planting, but will establish more rapidly at soil temperatures >10°C.


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Research from a sub-tropical region in India suggests an optimal N application rate of 160 kg/ha, but requirements in Ontario would likely be lower. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Moist soils; Avoid extremely heavy or light soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost tolerant.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is required under normal Ontario conditions. Plants should not be allowed to dry out.

Days to harvest

Leaves: 30-60 days to first use; For oil extraction, harvest at full bloom beginning in the second growing season.

Specialized equipment



Harvest leaves before flowers emerge and after flowering. Harvest whole tops down to 2.5 cm above the ground at peak bloom for essential oil distillation. A second bloom may occur in the fall.

Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting.  

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest (leaves and flowers); Machine harvest (forage harvester for essential oil extraction).

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest (fresh leaves and flowers).

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Flowers and leaves can be dried in a warm dark place on a wire rack or in a kiln. Harvested whole tops should be steam distilled as soon as possible after harvest.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): low for dried products, high for fresh flowers and leaves (>80%).

Temperature (°C): : Colder temperatures above freezing prolong shelf-life of most products (except dried); store essential oils in air-tight glass containers in the dark.

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: One or more years if properly stored (oil and dried products).

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Caterpillar defoliators

Diseases: Powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum)

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility):

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, mint bud mites, mint flea beetle, snails

Diseases: Rust, viruses, aster yellows, root and crown rot, root lesion nematodes

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: powdery mildew. Varieties differ in susceptibility to: powdery mildew. Disease pressures can be reduced through proper site selection and by promoting good air movement through the canopy. This crop is not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. There are few to no pest control products registered on this crop in Ontario.

Powdery mildew on bergamot.
Additional Notes

Rejuvenate plantings every three years by digging up plants, removing the centres, and re-planting the perimeter parts of the plant, preferably in a new field.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. McKeown, A.W., C.J. Bakker and J. Schooley. 1998-2002. Herb Demonstration Garden, University of Guelph Simcoe Research Station, unpublished.
  2. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Bown, D. 1995. Encyclopedia of herbs and their uses. BCA, Toronto.
  2. Cuthbertson, Y. 2006. Success with Herbs. Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd., East Sussex, UK.
  3. Kowalchik, C. and W. H. Hylton. 1998. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Rodale Press, Emaus PA.
  4. Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives. 2011. Native plants as potential crops for Manitoba.
  5. McHoy, P. and P. Westland. 1994. The Herb Bible: The Ultimate Herb Reference Book. New Burlington Books, London UK.
  6. McVicar, J. 1994. Jekka`s Complete Herb Book. Raincoast Books, Vancouver.
  7. Phillips, R. and M. Rix. 1999. The Random House Book of Herbs. Random House, Mississauga
  8. Ram, M., Ram D. and S. Singh. 1995. Irrigation and nitrogen requirements of Bergamot mint on a sandy loam soil under sub-tropical conditions. Agricultural Water Management 27: 45-54.
  9. Small, E. 2006. Culinary herbs, 2nd Edition. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.