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Mr. Smarty Plants - Grooming and propagation of Bee Balm

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Tuesday - August 28, 2007

From: Williamsburg, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation
Title: Grooming and propagation of Bee Balm
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted our first Bee Balm [Mornarda didyma] bush a month ago. I`ve watered it daily and it is growing well with many runners apparent. Should I be deheading or pinching regularly? Should I cut it back [how high from the ground] in the Fall? If I want to put it`s runners elsewhere in the garden, should I just pull up some runners and replant them in other areas or stick them in water for awhile before replanting? Thanks for your suggestions.

ANSWER:

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm) is a profilic and easily propagated plant, attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. It is always a good idea to deadhead plants, pulling or snipping dead flowers off, before they go to seed, unless, of course, you intend to gather seed. However, if a plant is allowed to go to seed, the blooming will be reduced or stopped. Every plant has just one objective: to make more of itself. The purpose of the blooms is to permit fertilization in order to produce seeds. When there is no more need for seeds, there is no more need for flowers. So, snip away, and tidy the plant up as you go, removing dead stems or brown leaves, to help reduce insect or disease damage. This also addresses your question on cutting the plant back in the fall; just keep trimming off the stems as they die, and leave the low rosette of leaves.

Late summer is not, however, the right time of year to be doing propagation. You can take softwood cuttings in late spring and produce more plants. Another way is to divide mature clumps (those rosettes of leaves that you left to winter over) in the spring before they put up new stems. At least in Central Texas, where we are located, monardas can be almost invasive, so you'll probably find that increasing the number of plants you have is fairly simple.


Monarda didyma

 

 

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