- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
- Putin: Russia to buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds
- Expert: Obamacare ‘death spiral’ fears exaggerated
- Alabama firefighters dig for survivors of apartment blast
- Big Sur wildfire destroys home of firefighting chief
- ‘ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’ set for mock trial to argue authorship
- Angela Merkel’s third term as Germany’s chancellor to be marked by move to left
- Mega Millions entices with record-setting jackpot: Half a billion so far
- Dennis Rodman heads to North Korea — despite execution, political purge
Bergamot spices tea, salad, chicken
It’s always a good thing when a plant is edible and ornamental. Bergamot, also called bee balm, is mostly grown as a perennial border plant, but it also has been served for centuries as an herb.
This wonderful perennial plant blooms in shades of scarlet, pink, purple and white, and the flowers have a citrus, mintlike flavor. American Indians used the leaves to make tea and introduced it to European settlers. It is not to be confused with the small bergamot orange, whose oil is used to flavor Earl Grey tea, soaps and other products.
When the plant blooms in mid- to late summer, it attracts a wide range of wildlife, including many different bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds.
It’s easy to grow since it thrives in full sun but remains happy in partial shade.
Sometimes bergamot plants will flop over without enough sunlight. If you routinely find this to be a problem, stake the plant before it falls. To support these bushy perennials, I buy cheap green bamboo stakes from the Dollar Store. Use three or four and push them into the ground around the outer edges of the plant when it’s about a foot tall. Run fishing line between the stakes to form a grid that the plant can grow up through. When the plant reaches maturity, it will cover the stakes and the fishing line will be invisible.
Bergamot will tolerate average garden soil but loves good well-drained dirt improved with organic matter. Mulching plants with an inch of compost each year will provide everything they need for the season.
Unless you are an experienced grower, the best way to start a patch of bergamot is by purchasing a plant at your favorite nursery or garden center. Once established, it can be divided each spring and shared with gardening friends when they visit.
Bergamot will spread by underground runners like its mint cousin, but it is not as aggressive. Still, it’s a good idea to keep bergamot in check. Otherwise, in a few years, it will overtake a bed. I have a lovely purple variety that I trade for something else I want.
If you’re brave and love to grow from seed, give seed a try. You’ll save a little money and produce many more plants, although they probably won’t bloom until next season.
Bergamot is often bothered by powdery mildew, but this is just an aesthetic problem that’s easily prevented with a homemade organic recipe of one teaspoon baking soda and a few drops of liquid dish soap in one quart of water. For best results, spray the plant before it shows signs of the disease.
Another way to prevent mildew is to give the plant plenty of room.
If overcrowded, mildew will probably set in.
In the kitchen, bergamot is most commonly brewed as Oswego tea, so named because it comes from the Oswego Indians who taught European immigrants how to use bergamot for tea. To make Oswego tea, take 1/4 cup bergamot leaves and pour boiling water over them. Let them steep for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey and you’ll have a delicious tea that is said to settle the stomach.
Bergamot or bee balm is a great addition to the garden. And the chance to see a hummingbird floating from blossom to blossom is just one more reason to embrace this hardy plant.
Bergamot flower salad
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall' Jackson tributes face Army War College removal
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Global-warming mania's deadly fallout
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Wasted: Tom Coburn's 'Wastebook targets 70 days in bed, Facebook
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Zadzooks: The Joker sixth scale figure review (Sideshow Collectibles)
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
- Mega Millions players dream of a green Christmas with lottery jackpot at $636 million
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Uncensored exploration of issues concerning current events, civil liberties, American political advocacy, and the political and social issues facing military veterans.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow