unhappy bee balms - where to replant?

Hi, In the past three years since we bought our house I've been experimenting with different plantings here and there. Our lot is mostly shady (varies from dappled to deep shade) with a few areas that get steady sun for about 5 to 6 hours. I made up my "sunny" flower garden in one spot that gets about 6 hours of sun (from 9 to 3:45). Most of the stuff I planted there (foxglove, sweet William, daylilies, clematis) are doing well except for the bee balm I planted two years ago. It's growing (and spreading) but it gets powdery mildew every summer which ruins most the flowers. I think I've read that bee balm likes to be in a moist spot and that powdery mildew is a sign that it's being kept in a too dry location. Sort of opposite of what I had thought. I would rather have plants that didn't need special treatments to stay healthy so it's either transplant the bee balm to a better location or just rip it out.
I do have some spots that are nearly always moist (along a ditch which has running water all year unless we have a drought) and along the length it varies from dappled shade to 6-7 hours sun. So if I was to transplant my bee balm, where should I put it?
Chris in Lovely Ithaca NY, zone 5 I believe
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Chris, IMHO Bee Balm will mildew no matter what steps I take. Full sun, part sun, wet, dry-- doesn't seem to matter. I've had most every color/cultivar thats come down the pipeline, nnd its all petered out in a short time period, a couple of years is the most I seem to get from any planting I've ever done.
Just a few days ago I found a small clump of new Bee Balm sprouts beside the Garage in a place that used to be a dumping ground for spent plants from a temporary greenhouse. Hope Springs Eternal, yannow ( lol) so I transplanted the clump to a newly dug bed, afternoon sun. We'll see what happens.
Not much help, I know ( and sorry for that) but I thought you might appreciate some commiseration, ;-).
I'm in the Western Maine foothills where it was 80 on Sunday, snow squalls today, Z 5 also.
Sue
-- Breeze ( sue burnham)

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I don't worry to much about the mildew - yes, it strikes, but I don't let it make me crazy. BUT - I don't lose mine, I have a many year old planting of Blue Stocking that is still going strong! Cheryl
On 5/4/04 12:23 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com, "Sue"

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One way to minimize the mildew is to cut the plants back by about half when the get about 3 feet tall - give or take. The mildew doesn't seem to set in until they bloom, then they get ratty. Cutting them back not only keeps them compact, but delays blooming. By delaying the blooms, you seem to be able to delay the onset of the mildew. You also have the advantage of shifting the bloom time to a period when color is more scarce in the perennial border.
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"Vox Humana" wrote in message

Thank you for this post. Its kind of a <dope slap> for me, or ideally " a learning moment".
For a short time, I was part of a farmers market, and my particular niche in the very small market was cut flower bunches. When I was cutting Bee Balm bloom for sale, they bloomed more, spread more, and were much stronger the following year.
When I stopped cutting/marketing/attending and let them "naturalize", they simply went out of business entirely.
Same with Delphinium. Cut more blooms, get more blooms, stronger plants. When I stopped cutting, I lost a lot of delphs.
Same with Hollyhock.
< smack forehead. A plant's business is to set seed. Keep them working at their business.
Sue Western Maine
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Don't be too hard on yourself. This wasn't obvious to me, but something that I learned from reading a book on perennials written by a woman from central Ohio. She advocated cutting or pinching a lot of perennials to keep them from flopping over, encourage growth, delay blooming, and to prevent disease.
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for the bee balm

Thanks for the advice. I'll cut my bee balm back and see how well that works. I hope cutting them back helps since I normally like bee balm but these plants have been disappointing.
Chris in lovely rainy Ithaca, NY
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Moist woodland soil works good. Cut half of the monarda back by 1/3-1/2 in the foreground and you can prolong the bloom period. Mildew is inevitable. Resistant varieties are just resistant not mildew proof.
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Newer cultivars of Monarda are very mildew resistant. Look for 'Gardenview Scarlet', 'Jacob Cline', 'Petite Delight', 'Marshall's Delight' or 'Raspberry Ice'. Site in full sun and allow sufficient spacing for air circulation - about 1.5' to 2" away from other plants.
pam - gardengal
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