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
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.
Breeze ( sue burnham)
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!
On 5/4/04 12:23 PM, in article email@example.com, "Sue"
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
Thank you for this post. Its kind of a <dope slap> for me, or ideally " a
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
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
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
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.
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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