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Monarda or Bee Balm
June 23, 2014

It is officially summer.

Yet, I somehow feel cheated.

In SW. Michigan, spring weather didn't really start until mid to late May.

Plants and flowers are behind, way behind.

So much so, I have to remind myself all the time when I look at the calendar.

I think the only thing that holds true this spring is the Cottonwood trees and the fuzzy snow that happens every mid June.

And this year was no exception.

The yearly invasion of the Toadlets was in full swing last week Wednesday and Thursday.

I've never seen it quite like this before.

a case of the right place, right time once again.

Oh sure, I've seen all the babies before, but not marching like this.

It was something you would see on TV.

From egg, to tadpole, to baby toad in less than 2 months.

Toadlets, baby toads.

By the thousands, and I'm not exaggerating when I say 'Thousands' of Toadlets have emerged from het pond and are marching across the lawns, streets, sidewalks and onto lawns.

Smaller than a dime, I must watch where I walk, or step on multiple baby toads.

Most of them will never make it to adulthood, however it is still an amazing natural phenomena to witness.

Thousands of them.

(Daddy Robin feeding his brood.)

I sporting my new glasses (Yolanda calls them windows). Friday was a trip to the fur doctor for the fur kids physical and other stuff.

Everything checked out okay. Yep, spending money like it was nothing. We did manage something free, the annual "Three Fires" Pow wow held every year (ironically, the same time the Cottonwood fuzz flies).

We enjoy watching and learning of the native cultures and history.

We will be gone for three days this week, any mail will I be late to respond to.

It is our annual June trip with Yolanda Up North.

Prayerfully, we will return safely.

Last week Red Salvia for the hummingbirds.

This week Monarda (Bee Balm).


Bee balm, bergamot or horsemint; its all pretty much the same, and it's all pretty, and healing.

Monarda, called by the common names of bee balm, horsemint and bergamot, is part of the mint family.

Native Americans made use of its essential healing oils, and spotted bee balm is said to relieve coughs, colds, fevers and minor digestive complaints.

Sometimes Bee Balm is called 'Oswego tea' because the 'Oswego Indians' of New York State formerly used the plant leaves for tea.

(Colonists made a tea as well after the 'Boston Tea Party' occurred.)

Monardais a genus consisting of roughly 16 species of flowering plants in the mint family.

There are over 50 commercial cultivars whose hybrid colors range from dark red mahogany to bluish lilac to multiple shades of pink.

(Wild Bergamot)

Its long history as a healing herb is reflected in its name, which comes from the 16th-century Spanish physician, Nicolas Monardes, who wrote the first herbal about botanicals from the New World.

With monarda, it comes down to the heads of colored flowers so nectar-rich, they vibrate most of the summer with bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Often times, up to a 50% nectar content, and that shoots down the 4 parts water to 1 part sugar (about 22%) suggested for hummingbird

Vital Stats:

Family: Lamiaceae

Common Name: Bee balm

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Native Range: United States, Canada, Mexico

Zone: 3 to 10 (depending on cultivar)

Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet

Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet

Bloom Time: July to August

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium to wet

Maintenance: Medium

Flower: Showy, Good Cut

Leaf: Fragrant

Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees

Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Clay Soil, Wet Soil, and even Black Walnut (toxin juglens)


Monarda is best grown in rich, medium to wet, moisture-retentive soils in full sun to part shade.

Prefers rich, humusy soils in full sun, although some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates.

Soil should not be allowed to dry out.

Deadhead flowers to prolong summer bloom.

Divide clumps every 3-4 years to prevent overcrowding and to control spread of the plant.

Provide plants with good air circulation to help combat fungal leaf disease.

Spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding.

Rhizomes are in the first couple inches of soil, and easy to remove or move to another location.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

A somewhat coarse, clump-forming plant that features tubular flowers borne in dense, globular, terminal heads atop square stems rising 2-4' tall.

A member of mint family is easily recognized by the square stems.

Each flower head is subtended by (rests upon) a whorl of showy, red-tinged, leafy bracts.

Long summer blooms.

Attractive to bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, particularly when planted or allowed to form a nice clump.


Powdery mildew can be a serious problem.

Particularly in humid conditions in crowded gardens with poor air circulation.

Not to mention, bad watering habits.

When possible, avoid watering in the late evening when water droplets can't evaporate.

(We can't do anything about Nature's rain during the night.)

Look for cultivars resistant to mildew (Marshall's Delight Pictured).

In addition, if the soil is allowed to dry out, the stressed plants become increasingly susceptible to disease and may not bloom like they should.

Rust can also be a problem.

Monarda provides color and contrast for the perennial border, wild garden, native plant garden, meadow, herb garden, naturalized planting or along ponds or streams.

While Red salvia is the one flower I would have, if I could only choose one, a hummingbird garden isn't complete unless you have at least one clump of Bee Balm.

There are many cultivars these days ranging from purple, reds, pinks and white.

They are offered in heights of 4 feet (3+m) to dwarfs as short as 10-12 inches (.3m).

With some research, you can find varieties that are mildew resistant , like 'Marshall's Delight'.

You can find cultivars that are less aggressive as well.

To extent the bloom time of your Monarda patch, you may consider this next spring.

When the plants reach about 8 inches tall, I cut back the front third or so of the patch in half.

Now I have a bunch of 4 inch plants.

This allows the front part to bush out and grow shorter with more flower heads and they will bloom a couple weeks later.

This gives you more bang and the hummers will thank you for this.

Plant where they can have plenty of air circulation and where you can water them as needed.

The far corner of a garden isn't a wise choice.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God bless.

"For every minute angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness".

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You lose a minute of life.

You allow other things to happen as well.

"In your anger do not sin.
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
And do not give the devil a foothold."

Ephesians 4: 26, 27

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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