Glyn Bach Gardens holds a National Collection of Monarda; these beautiful plants grow well in the warm, wet, climate of West Wales. They are used throughout the garden to provide colour, form and nectar for our diverse and plentiful population of long tongued bumble bees. Short tongued bumble bees access the nectaries by chewing through the base of the flower and our honey bees access the nector via the same hole.
Didyma species are usually red in colour and grow best in damp conditions. They originate from the New York swamp lands around the Oswego river.
Fistulosa species are the largest grouping and are white, pink and lilac, violet and purple predominately; these grow in moist to dry conditions. We grow them in our hillside borders as they dislike winter wet; in the American prairies where they originate from, they are kept protected and dry under a thick snow layer. On a slope, the winter wet rolls away and replicates these conditions.
Monarda are not difficult to grow if given the right conditions. They require good fertile soil and should be fed with a good fertiliser such as Extract of Seaweed. Regular feeding from May onwards helps to avoid the dreaded powdery mildew. If plants do succumb, spray with a mix of 1 litre of water, 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, 1/2 tsp Washing up Liquid (we use Fairy Apple) and 1/2 tsp Wood oil (We use Murphy's Wood oil but Ikea Danish Oil is okay). Do not mulch as they like to spread out via basal growth.
Cut the plants back to ground level in winter to avoid wind rock. As most cultivars are sterile, there is no benefit to wild life for keeping the seed heads on. Notable cultivars that do produce seed are : Marshalls Delight, Petite Delight, Cambridge Scarlet and all of the species.
Divide plants in Spring when there is good basal growth. After 3 years, Monarda will exhaust the soil of nutrients so it is advisable to dig them and replant them, or replenish the soil around them.
In the wild, Monarda fistulosa species stems fall over and spread along the ground, putting on adventitious roots, so the plants are not tall. In cultivation, plants are bred to be upright so some cultivars will require staking.
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