This page talks about growing bergamot and its benefits.
Once used by Native Americans as a tea and for flavoring meats, bergamot is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial bush native to northeastern America with distinctive purple flowers known to attract bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Due to this ability, it makes a great companion to tomatoes. It blooms from July through September and can grow to a height of three to five feet.
While it has a similar scent, bergamot is different from the plant used to make bergamot essential oil or flavor earl grey teas. Bergamot can be grown from either seeds or root division. Its gorgeous flowers alone make it an attractive addition to any garden, but many people still like to use its leaves to make bergamot teas.
You should start planting bergamot indoors approximately 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost. Gently press the seeds into the soil at a depth of only ¼ inches. It should germinate within 10 to 14 days after planting. Once the threat of frost has passed, you can transplant your bergamot to it’s permanent home in your garden.
Start by choosing a part of your garden with partial sun. Make sure that the space you select has plenty of morning sunshine and some nice afternoon shade during the hottest part of the day. While bergamot can grow in a variety of soils, it does best in a rich, sandy soil. Bergamot likes lots of water, but well-drained soil. Place plants 12 inches apart.
If you decide to transplant your bergamot at a later time, it’s best to do so during spring. If the plant doesn’t have enough time to reestablish itself before winter, it may not survive. Bergamot is should be ready for harvesting in about 60 days from planting. Keep in mind that bergamot will not bloom the first year you plant it.
You can create new bergamot plants for your garden or for sharing with your friends and family through root division. It’s also a good idea to divide your plants every two or three years anyway to keep them growing well. Begin by digging up the roots of the plant with a shovel. Then, divide the root ball into at least two pieces with your hands. Trim off any damaged or discolored root or leaf sections. Replant immediately in desired location to keep the roots from dehydrating. After planting, press the soil around the plant firmly and water well.
Bergamot produces beautiful flowers for bouquets, potpourri, to garnish foods or flavor foods, as well as leaves that make nice teas. Bergamot teas are made from dried bergamot leaves and flowers. To make a simple bergamot tea, steep 1 teaspoon dried bergamot in 1 cup of hot water for ten minutes to drink around bedtime. Bergamot is delicious when added to black tea. Many people use bergamot tea to help control cholesterol, blood sugar levels and alleviate the symptoms of a cold and sore throat.
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