One of the freebies I got from Walter’s Gardens this year to test out is a new bee balm called Red Velvet.
This is a taller variety measuring between 2 and 2 feet tall and wide. I wish I had read the sign before I planted it. Maybe I didn’t give it enough space.
The flowers in this variety are large cherry red. You will get a second flush of blooms later. I read it in the directions because I didn’t bloom the first year, which is not unusual. Perhaps I should have put a little billboard next to it announcing hummingbirds, bees and butterflies saying, “Coming next year, a huge collection of flowers and nectar. ”
The botanical name for bee balm is Monarda. It is native to North America and was discovered by the Spanish botanist Nicholas Monardes in 1574. He probably couldn’t think of a name for it, so he named it.
It belongs to the mint family, and when the leaves are crushed, it smells like mint. Deer and rabbits avoid it, just as I avoid coconuts.
The early settlers, not caring to pay their high tea taxes to England, made tea from bee balm leaves instead. Show that these Brits.
Bee balm should be planted in full sun. You can plant them in partial sun, but you may not get many flowers.
Bee balm comes in different shades like pink, crimson, red, purple, and lavender. Grow the color you want, but try to buy a variety that doesn’t have powdery mildew, that white powder on your leaves.
Fortunately, newer cultivars like Red Velvet are resistant to powdery mildew.
Allowing the plant to get plenty of air circulation helps prevent powdery mildew. There are sprays to prevent it too, such as Bonide Fung-onil, if you have had a previous problem. Outside of that, the plant is very low maintenance.
During the winter in our area, it will die back on the ground. It’s a good idea to cut the foliage back to an inch or two and remove it from the area to prevent disease. You may want to wait until the sparrows and birds eat before you do so.
In the spring, when the foliage begins to appear, pressing the tips will make the plant bushy and you will have more flowering.
One chore you will undertake every three to five years is to divide the plant. You can easily tell that this needs to be done, because the center of the plant is dying. Dig it up, divide the plant, then replant it in other areas or give some to your friends. They will thank you when they see all the hummingbirds visiting the factory. Of course, there is a possibility that they will get angry with you when they see all the bees appear.
I mentioned before that deer ate tomato plants this year. Thanks to my good experience, I was able to regrow the rest of them, but they were late in maturation. I thought I might have lost touch when the beef tomato plant I planted had tomatoes about the size of a quarter. I finally realized that it couldn’t be me, and that the plant had the wrong sign in it in the greenhouse. I hate when that happens.
Thanks to my daughter, neighbors, and old postman George Brenneman, I have tomatoes to eat until they’re ready, which should be around Christmas.
In case you haven’t noticed, the fall has arrived. It means different things to different people, but to me it means I may have to wear socks again. I haven’t had a husband since May. Hope they stay fit and don’t have holes.
Make your space a green space.
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