Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monarda - Bee Balm

I have always liked Monarda, as much for the flowers as for the butterflies and insects it attracts. This first one if called 'Blue Stockings' and is probably about as close to blue as it gets. The only one I know of that's bluer is the wild one that grows along the roadsides here and it is a much lighter shade.

Next is 'Cambridge Scarlet', the first one I bought. Back then I was told it grew in shade, and that's where this one has always lived. I think it would be happier in sun, but since it grows and blooms, I'm leaving well enough alone. It is in a bed with mostly hostas and ferns and the bright color is a definite benefit there. As with a number of the older varieties, this one has a tendency towards developing a bit of mildew in humid, hot Augusts.

Now that I see this picture, 'Claire Grace' is probably about as close color wise to the wild one as I have seen. Still rather lavender and with a more grey leaf.

This is probably my biggest, tallest, thickest stemmed one. 'Marshall's Delight' is another older variety and very dependable. I always have plenty of this one to sell of give away because it is just so 'enthusiastic'.

Last is 'Petite Delight', a wonderful color on a shorter plant. This has been less hardy here, but is does survive.

Monarda are pretty adaptable. I have them in dappled shade and full sun. Most are in what would be called good garden soil, nothing special. If yours tend to develop mildew, the only thing you can do short of chemicals, it give them more sun and be sure they get good air circulation. They increase by runners and I've never seen one pop up elsewhere in the garden from seed. They are somehow related to the mints and have a minty scent to the foliage. I don't think the blooms have a scent, but they attract all manner of butterflies nonetheless.

1 comment:

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Hi Jane! Very interesting post, good info on this beautiful plant. I got my first monarda this spring and can't wait to see it blooms. Thanks for describing different varieties!