I am late to the game in preparing my wild bergamot seeds for planting. It’s now the last week of April and I understand I should have put them in a cold moist environment weeks ago. Is there anyway I can accelerate the cold stratification process, or should I just put them in the ground with my other seeds and hope for the best? The owner of my local seed supplier suggested I could put the seeds in the freezer for a couple weeks, but I am fairly certain moisture is necessary.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners for your inquiry.
Wild bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) or bergamot is a wildflower in the mint family (Lamiaceae) and widespread in much of North America.
Stratification is a method of getting seeds to germinate by providing them with a few weeks of damp, cold conditions. This ensures that the seeds do not germinate before winter conditions set in thus killing the seedling. Although a lot of native plant seeds need to be stratified before they will germinate the seeds of wild bergamot do not need stratification. Instead they can be sown directly outdoors in April or May.
When sowing directly outdoors, make sure to prepare your sowing area by removing all unwanted weeds & other plant life. Turn the earth, or replace it with a fresh new soil, which should be filled with organic matter. Sow your seeds directly to the surface of well-drained soil in full sun. Covering the seeds with topsoil is not necessary.
Bee Balm seeds are known to germinate in roughly 14 to 28 days. Thin out the seedlings when large enough to handle, so they are at least 12 inches apart.
Heres to continual enjoyment of this showy summer-blooming pollinator magnet.