Can I cut back bee balm?

gklee(8/Houston)June 24, 2005

This is my first experience with bee balm and the stuff is going crazy....shooting out in all different directions. Can I cut these back...at least the stems growing along the ground?

And what about deadheading? Should I pluck off the spent blooms?

This has probably been rehashed a dozen times on here but I couldn't find any previous posts on this issue. Thanks!

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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

I don't but I'm your basic lazy gardner. Sarah

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 3:44PM
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roberta_nc(Zone 7 NC)

I'm not an expert but can give you my best guess. I've grown it for a couple of years and because it spreads so easily I don't think cutting it back can hurt it. When mine first started coming out this year I pinched the a lot of the tips to make it bushier. At this point I wouldn't back anything that looks like it is getting ready to bloom, of course. I do cut off the spent blooms. Maybe others have more experience and can give us some tips.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 6:00PM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

I've heard it can rebloom with enough moisture, but mine dries out in the summer. Cutting back keeps it tidy and doesn't hurt.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 12:27AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I pull out whole stems from the base when they get too wild. I deadhead only to keep it neat. You can cut, pull out chop and break it off and it will still come back...very tough plant.

Penny

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 3:53AM
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gklee(8/Houston)

Thanks for the responses. You've been a big help!

Glenn

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 7:37AM
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oubliette(z7 MS)

What about pentas? Should they be deadheaded? Mine have been blooming like crazy, but now they are full of spent blooms.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 9:02AM
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CHARANN102(z7PA)

I just deadheaded all of my PINK bee balm this morning. I can see where new shoots are trying to come out along the main stem. I'm hoping to get another blooming out of the side shoots.

Right now the red is blooming like crazy and there is a lot of hummingbird activity there. It is so exciting to see these little dears.

Charlotte

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 9:24AM
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mimidi(z8)

My Jacob Cline is blooming like crazy the common variety is just sitting there soaking up water and doing nothing for it's keep.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 2:45PM
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navymom2226(7- R.I.)

You all are so great and full of information... I'm going to go out and "pinch" today. LOL My bee balm is long and straggily. Gotta do it soon as the temp is heading up and up.... gosh here I am complaining,,it was just a couple of months ago I promised the dear lord I wouldn't complain when it got in the 90's.......... ok..I'm off.. bye all

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 11:07AM
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standard65(z6/7 nashville)

I pinched the very tips off my beebalm when it was about a foot tall, and then again when it was about 20 inches tall. it made 4 blooms out of each of the 2 original stems. I've yanked edge pieces out of the ground and planted them out immediately and had them thrive. I think it's a pretty tough plant, too.
I think I will deadhead it when it's done blooming.
like mimidi's, my jacob cline is putting on a show, and the gardenview scarlet is just sitting there, full of mildew, doing nothing.

jacob cline


    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:49PM
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WiValerie(z4 WI)

If you have plants like bee balm that spreading through your garden by sending out runners, what you can do in the future to control this type of spreading is replant the plant in a large plastic garden container. Use a container from a new plant that you purchase and cut the bottom off so it is like a tube. Dig a large hole and plant the empty container and fill it with the mondara and soil, tap down all the soil firmly and mulch around the plant. The plant will fill up the container and you will have a nice full plant that won't be able to send shoots all through the garden. Beware monarda (bee balm) reseeds itself quite readily and if you don't want new plants next year, keep on deadheading all through the season. This planting technique also works for other spreading plants like mint in an herb garden. I learned about it at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, WI. VAL

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:59AM
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oubliette(z7 MS)

Great tip, Valerie! Thanks.

Standard, that is one beautiful plant. Mine has a few buds -- can't wait for it to bloom in hopes it will entice a few hummers to my yard.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 2:17PM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

I have an inferior kind, it was mislabeled when I bought it. After it blooms every one that I can find gets pulled out by the roots. Despite my best efforts there it is the following spring, just like the dogbane. It seems I've been pulling it since the dawn of time. If I had to do it over again, I'd do what a neighbor does. She has a bed of invasives, where she plants all her Attila the Hun plants. It is such a good idea, I wish I'd thought of it 20 years ago, before it was too late.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 3:16PM
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standard65(z6/7 nashville)

I saw a hummer on the beebalm today!! it was so exciting. she(?) perched in the chain link fence between sips, and took off in the direction opposite the garden relative to the fence. I think she flew right through the chain link fence.
it's my first year with beebalm, but won't be my last. it's a hummer magnet. I've only had one hummer sighting in a week, and was told they'd be back when the beebalm blooms.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 8:19PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

You'll have plenty now! Sarah

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:33PM
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standard65(z6/7 nashville)

sarah, I swear I hadn't seen an adult male here since 6/17, and after posting earlier, I saw the little local female that I see briefly every couple of days for the 2nd time today. that drew my attention to the feeder, and a minute later, an adult male showed up, neck craned out all long and slender, peeking in my window while hovering near the feeder to make sure it's safe. he drank from that feeder and then went to the far feeder. he zipped back and forth from the far feeder to then end of the garden with the beebalm, which I can't see from the window. I went outside, and he visited both feeders while I sat in a lawn chair at the edge of the driveway between them. I didn't see him on the beebalm, but it really brings em round to the yard.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:51PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

sure does, he'll be back for the beebalm guaranteed! Sarah

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:00PM
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richardzone7maryland(7b)

I have had bee balm for about 10 years and I have never seen a hummer at it. I do get lots of bees though. I had red, pink and white bee balm, but this year the only ones that came up were the pink ones. I bought some red bee balm over the weekend. It looks so nice I am tempted to go back and get some more.

I do have one major problem with it. The birds (not hummers) keep trying to land on it and in the process they wind up breaking the tops. I moved it to another place in the yard (I haven't planted it yet, its in what looks like a two gallon pot) and I'm hoping the birds will leave it alone there.

Richard

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 12:15PM
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navymom2226(7- R.I.)

ty for the suggestions - I "pinched" them all/ and by gosh they are filling out beautifully. Perhaps now I can share some of the seeds with my neighbor. My hummers don't really go to it/ but am going to put some under their feeder and see what happens. It seems to be a hardy plant up here in NE.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 10:26AM
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flowerfloosey(z8 NCal mnts)

I am afraid to pinch cause I did one year and sacrificed blooms. Maybe I pinched too late. How late can I do this? Do they side branch if pinched??? Mine are up about 6 inches now..hope someone answers this before it is too late???

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 11:19PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I planted Monarda Rasberry Wine last May. It bloomed throughout the summer and I kept pruning it. It was very attractive to the hummingbirds. One year later it is 24" across at the base, but no runners venturing away from the plant base. Big but compact.

I have added Jacob Cline this year. It will be interesting to compare the two.

Raspberry Wine

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 10:23AM
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marisa20

I planted Jacob Cline in 2005 in the fall. It is going crazy....It is almost 6 ft tall. It is shading plants around it b/c I didn't expect it to get this tall. Can I cut it back by half now--May 23rd in zone 6a?? I do not want to sacrifice my first year of blooms, though.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 12:22PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

It will bloom around the end of June or the first part of July. It should have been cut back a little earlier but if you cut it back right now you may still get some blooms. I just dug up a stray cllump yestereday and moved it further down in the bed to keep the original clump somewhat in bounds and to start another. It may or may not bloom this year but it will get established and do w4ell next year.

Penny

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 7:10AM
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charann102_2006(6)

I have Jacobs Cline and I deadhead it as soon as it is done blooming and it sends out new blooms from lateral shoots. If you maintain a vigilant program of pinching it back it will rebloom for you and be fuller. I just pull out the runners to keep it somewhat under control. :-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 9:12PM
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vera_eastern_wa(5a-5b)

I grow the common species Monarda fistulosa. I cut mine back mid spring (pinching out top 2 to 3 sets of leaves) because otherwise mine grow too tall to about 5'. They will come back bushier rather than tall and floppy in bloom.
I pinched back a little earlier this year and will probably need to do it again in a few more weeks.

Taken May 26th after pinching about 1.5 weeks ago....
As far as spread...I have 1 single plant that has only increased in girth(the crown is about 14" across) but has not sent out plants by rhizome in all the 4 years I've had it. She has been very well behaved with regular watering in a southwest location.

Vera

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 11:58AM
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neverdonethisbefore

My bee balm is a transplant that I put in the ground about a month ago. It looked like it was going to die. All the leaves fell off. Now my five plants look healthy. they have grown their leaves back and are somewhat bushy, but they don't look as if they are going to bloom. Is this normal? When are they supposed to bloom? I'm in Missouri if that helps at all. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 10:26PM
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mbuckmaster(7B/NC)

They're probably fine, never. Transplants always undergo a bit of shock for a month or more. For your plants to be leafing out again now is a good sign. You might get blooms in another month or two if your monarda gets enough water and was planted well. But then again, it may take a season for it to establish itself.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 1:14AM
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neverdonethisbefore

Thanks for the feedback. I'm new to gardening and to this ginormous website so I'm going to ask a non bee balm question... I have planted a perennial sweet pea. Its growing very aggresivly on a trellis where it gets shade until around 9:30 or ten am, then full sun until sunset. It too however is not blooming. What am I doing wrong? All my plants have great foilage but arent blooming? Not all, but my bee balm, sweet pea, and whatever the annual of phlox is. I don't remember the name. Please help!!!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 3:58PM
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ctnchpr

ndtb,

Are you feeding your plants? Your description "great foliage but aren't blooming" sounds like too much Nitrogen. Try a flower food high in Phosphate such as Miracle-Gro 'Bloom Booster' (10-52-10).

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:43AM
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neverdonethisbefore

I am feeding them with Miracle Grow Shake and Feed. I'll pick up some bloom Booster when I go to town tomorrow. Thank you for the advice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 1:46PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Bee balm always sulks for a while when transplanted especially this time of the year. You don't say where you are located but here in NY our bee balm won't be blooming for a while. Depending on where you are located and when the plant was transplanted it may not bloom until later in the seasoon. I have lots of green this time of the year but no buds yet which is normal for me.

Penny

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:59AM
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brinna22

hey all ..
my bee balm is very tall and all my blooms are done...I wanted it to spread ...I don't seem to have any new shoots growing ...did I buy the wrong type?
thanks

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:43AM
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donnann(5 MA)

I pinch all the time and am now cutting, filling up vases and the bee balm will keep growing.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:39AM
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lovefornature(5B IL)

Donnann, great pictures!! I just purchased Raspberry Wine this year (so pretty). Mine won't be blooming till next year though, plants were pretty small.

I had asked advice earlier about companion planting and people kept on telling me not to plant RED Bee Balm with the Raspberry Wine, it would color clash and look bad.

Well, your picture has proved they are wrong (your red and raspberry) look beautiful together :-) Just what I needed to see.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 12:05AM
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donnann(5 MA)

Thank you so much. The hummers love them. I bought 2 white ones and will have to wait till next year also to really see them . I didn't even know there was a white. Again thank you. Donna

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 5:51PM
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ajfan

Was reading this post looking for ideas to attract hummers to my garden. How many different colours of bee balm are there? I've started a new bed, hoping for it to attract hummers, are there other companion plants you would suggest?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 9:53AM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

I planted the red a few years ago. I took a few pieces of the pink from my friend's garden last year and this is how it looks now. I like the pink better, it's taller and stays nicer than the red. It has been covered with bees but honestly I never see hummingbirds near the beebalm.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 1:05PM
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ctnchpr

Gorgeous, anita!!!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 1:33PM
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scapper_bell_net

I have bee balm that has been situated for several years. It gets 3 feet stalks starts to bloom but never looks lush or well developed in the blooms. It gets full sun and my property is sand and clay with gravel mixed in. What can I do to have full blooms instead of dried out crispy blooms.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 9:30AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

I read somewhere that Monarda benefits greatly from watering when it is flowering.

Another possiblity is that worms are eating the buds before they bloom. They find their way into the tight buds and eat the flower from the inside. Flowers would open with nothing but a base, or a few petals at best. Signs to look for prebloom is to carefully peel the bud open and see if you either see the worm, eaten plant, or poop.

Insecticide sprayed on the outside does not do anything as the bud is so tight the stuff does not get where it would need to be. Systemic applied before the buds appear could help, but this is a hummingbird forum and both of these kinds of things can harm the birds.

Not sure what the options are if you have this problem. I just let it be and cut off the buds that have been eaten hoping that the plant will send out a second bud, or possibly two. I get a decent showing.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 12:00PM
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hummersteve

Im about ready to rip mine out or dig it out as it gets mildew so bad , its marshalls delight. I guess Im afraid the mildew spores will spread to the cardinal flower I have in the same bed. I have used the baking soda recipe on it but it always gets the mildew here.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:12AM
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oliveoyl3

It likes to be divided every few years & blooms best on the vigorous new growth. Also, likes to be fed, so composted manure is excellent for it, but not over it as it dislikes heavy mulch. Last year planted a 2" pot of seed grown Jacob Kline that was 3' x 2' this spring. Took several chunks out of it & it's a blooming machine both in the original spot & the new places.

Thought this bloom was interesting. I love watching the hummingbirds at them, but can't catch a photo.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 2:48PM
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cougarvamp

This is the 1st time I've planted this I bought Panarama, a mix of colors. The plant stands upright, then when the flower blooms, it falls over! Ive had to lay it on top of other plants to keep it upright. Also, I've noticed people "pinch" them. What is this, what does it do the plant, & how do you do it? Thanks, I appreciate any feedback on this!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 7:45PM
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