Monarda Didyma Maintenance

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Yo_Jo, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Yo_Jo

    Yo_Jo New Member

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    The wife wanted to support humming bird and butterflies in the area so we bought a Monarda Didyma planter this spring with 2 stems. It was pretty plain and not very impressive looking. (2nd from the left)
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    Boy was I wrong about it because by Aug it had grown rapidly and sprouted these amazing beautiful flowers.
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    Question: We want to keep them forever. What should we do after the flower fades and the pedals falls apart? Do we cut the flower heads or the entire stock? Do they go dormant in the winter and regrow next spring or do we have to collect the pollinated seeds and replant next year?

    Regards

    Joe
     
  2. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Monarda should be hardy in pots here, unless we have a super-hard winter like last year's. I just googled the hardiness rating on it, and it's USDA 4-9 (roughly equivalent to Canada's zones with the same numbers), which makes sense. The native version is from Eastern Canada and the US, and they get harder winters than we do. That said, putting anything in a pot decreases its hardiness by at least one zone, which means if your zone is regularly a 7, you can grow things with up to a zone 6 rating in pots, unless they are too small for the plant, or in a very exposed location like a high rise balcony, in which case you should estimate at least two zones down. You're still good with a zone 4 plant, IMO.

    When the flowers are done, cut off the flower heads and the stalk, down to the first set of leaves. That gives the plant a nicer look and lets it gather its energies to either produce more flowers, or get ready for winter. You need to leave the greenery so it can get energy from photosynthesis. When the first frost comes and kills off the leaves, cut the stalks down to about 2" from the soil. In this climate you might want to pull the pot back under an overhang, or otherwise loosely shelter it from the winter rain. Don't let the soil get totally dry -- you're trying to mimic real dirt here -- but don't flood it either. A damp soil (and thus the plant) can handle any freezes we get here a lot better than a dry or a soaked one. And in the spring, look for sprouts! No fertilizer of any kind until you see good growth next spring, and even then don't hit it hard. Certainly not as hard as Miracle Gro suggests (they want to sell more fertilizer, and annuals need more than perennials do).

    Hope that helps!
     
  3. Yo_Jo

    Yo_Jo New Member

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    Thanks Keke for your reply - it helps us prepare it for a punishing Vancouver winter of snow and ice like last winter where only the Strawberry and Haskap berry survived.

    The Monarda is definately favoured by the humming birds over the feeder on the deck.

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    Keke and wcutler like this.
  4. Yo_Jo

    Yo_Jo New Member

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    Hi Keke,

    The flowers fell apart about a week ago and we chopped the heads off down to the first set of leaves. What we are seeing now is this white substance growing all over the leaves? Any ideas what it could be? Is it normal leaf decay or something else?

    Joe

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  5. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Ah. That's powdery mildew. It's the bane of all bee balms, in my experience. When we had that big smoke situation not long ago, the reason why we had it was that there wasn't much wind to move the smoke somewhere else. That same stillness is heaven for powdery mildew, especially if it's humid, or water gets on the leaves. It's also a problem for vegetables and herbs -- I have it on my sage, cucumbers and tomatoes right now, for the same reason. It's a fungal disease, so if/when leaves fall, don't leave them in the pot or compost them. Garbage them. Don't touch any other plants after touching the plant unless you wash your hands etc. I'd also recommend spraying with Bacillus subtilis spray daily for a week or so. Do it in the mornings so it has a chance to dry on the leaves before the night comes. And don't water the leaves, just the soil, when you water. Hold the water down a little too -- underwatering won't hurt the plant as long as you don't let it go bone dry.

    It won't kill the plant, probably, but it'll severely impair the ability of the plant to gather energy for the winter and following year if you can't improve the situation. So do as much as you can this summer/fall!

    Good luck. It's worth it, IMO.
     

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