Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

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

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Bermuda, not the only option in Memphis
November 04, 2014 - I'm building an energy efficient home in Memphis and want to extend that strategy to the landscaping. I'd like to plant native grasses, but this lot is surrounded by lots sodded with Bermuda grass....
view the full question and answer

Determining ripeness of seeds of Crotonn texensis
May 01, 2007 - How can I tell when the seeds of Croton texensis are "ripe"?
view the full question and answer

Air layering with Spanish moss from Dunnellon FL
July 28, 2011 - Is it possible to air layer plant cuttings using Spanish Moss instead of Sphagum Moss? I have a yard full! Thanks
view the full question and answer

Need native grasses to re-introduce on land in Live Oak County, Texas.
July 21, 2009 - How do I find out what type of grass is native and how to reintroduce it (once we get some rain)? The area is southern Live Oak County approx 10 miles north of Orange Grove TX, about 2 miles from Lak...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Turks Cap, when and how
September 10, 2007 - Mr. Smarty Pants - We have an enormous healthy Turk's Cap - not the lily, but the one with red flowers(Malvaviscus arboreus v. drummondii) It has also produced a new plant nearby. Please tell us how...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.