Saturday, June 25, 2011

BeeBalm in Bloom

Lavendar-Pink Dwarf BeeBalm (mildew resistant)
Well, the end of June is nearing and Summer has begun.  Most of my Spring blooming flowers have ended and the Summer ones are now beginning to take off.  One of my favorites to see each year are those of my BeeBalm.  Also known as Monarda or Bergamot.

I have always enjoyed the unique, square-shaped, sturdy stems these plants produce to hold a single flower.  I have had them reach heights of 6 feet in the past (taller than me).  They are not quite as tall this year.  Perhaps it has been too wet.  I never realized these plants, being perennials, were actually herbs.  I only recently discovered they were Bergamot, having always referred to them simply as BeeBalm.  Now I understand the wonderful, spicy fragrance of the stem and leaf.

These plants are susceptible to powdery mildew although you can look for varieties that are more resistant (such as the dwarf species shown).  My red ones (below) seem to develop this ailment, however it is very much related to location and condition.  Shady areas with high humidity and heat contribute to the development of the disease.  I heard years ago about spraying a skim milk/water solution or even plain skim milk on and under the leaves to combat this issue.   Another solution of baking soda, water and dish detergent also has been recommended.  Although I have never tried either, family members who I have suggested the milk solution to, have said it worked.
The following article provides information about both solutions.   

I can see a few spots forming on mine already so I may have to give the milk solution a try.

Red BeeBalm

Regardless, I'm pleased that mine are now blooming and will provide many weeks of wonderful color and interest around the property.


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