15 June 2008

Bloom Free or Die

Three Monarda or bee balm plants were purchased from a catalog mail order supplier about two years ago. Last year, their first, they bloomed in early summer, but after blooming, two immediately died off. Not wanting the third to disappear, it was spoiled and cared for throughout the summer like an only-child.

First, a slight mildew appeared in the summer. After heavy summer thunderstorms knocked over most of the stalks, a plant support was purchased. When trying to upright them, the stalks easily broke since they were not pliable. At the end of summer, there were no stalks, no flowers, and only a small pile of sprouts.

Either bloom or end up on the compost heap. This year, the plant came back well and is proudly blooming and standing tall. With stalks about 3 feet high (1 m), this variety does not have the petals splayed out of a center, but instead resembles a pincushion or ball. It is obediently utilizing the metal support grid purchased last year, new stalks are growing out of the base, and the universe is once again in balance.

The Monarda plant has some interesting history and uses such as tea for native Americans, floral potpourri, salad garnish, and herb for meats.

For The Record:
  • Medium soil
  • Full sun
  • Humus manure and peat added to soil
  • Bone meal added in the fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Iceland poppy, calendula, purple salvia, geranium, nicotiana, monarda, daisy, coneflower