Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, July 11, 2008

When You Plant Them, They Will Come...It's a Promise!



I planted Monarda didyma "Marshall's Delight' and they came...butterflies, moths and bees....no hummers, yet.

Aren't they sweet? Really, they are all over this guy...
I am thrilled to see the Swallowtail butterfly. It's deep summer and soon we'll have caterpillars on the fennel, dill and parsley. How ever do you get a butterfly to stop flitting so she can have her photo taken!

Does anyone know this guy's name? A Lepidoptera family member? Skeeter (In The Garden) identified her as a Silver-Spotted Skipper. Thanks Skeeter!

There are a number of caterpillars who feed only on Monarda didyma, perhaps there will be eggs laid on this plant.
Lots of fat bees are attracted to Marshall's Delight...I haven't seen any honeybees? But I can't complain...these guys will do.


(all photos enlarge)

Monardas are aromatic herbs indigenous to eastern North America and are very happy in the Southeastern US. A perennial with dark green leaves and upright stems which usually grows to about 3 foot tall by 2 feet wide. If you like activity ...he's the life of the party...he will bring butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to your garden. He makes a great cut flower. Right now, I have flowers in a vase...I wouldn't be at all surprised if the stems root. The mint plants are very vigorous rooters.

OK, he's a mint and if he's happy...he may travel. For that reason monarda is often relegated to the naturalized garden...where he can grow to his heart's content. If you are diligent and divide him regularly he might not get out of control! Joy (GardenJoyForMe) has a nice post on Monarda didyma "Petit Delight", it's very similar to Marshall's Delight only...petit, so drop by to see hers.

Although, Marshall's Delight has been developed to be mildew resistant...it's best to keep him thinned out, so there is plenty of air circulating around the stems. Another recommendation to deter mildew is keeping the soil evenly moist...dry soil appears to encourage mildew. You might like this idea I found at Pahgat's : As summer was turning to autumn (in 2002), our Marshall's Delight did get mildewy. I just cut it to the ground, discarding rather than composting the leaves, & it quickly began to regrow with its wholesome appearance regained. The following year, I periodically sprayed the area with dilute milk, which is a fully organic method of keeping powdery mildew from reoccurring, & works vastly more reliably than do fungicides.

Has any one tried the milk remedy for powdery mildew? Sounds interesting and you don't have to bring out the Big Guns. Here is link that might be helpful.

This is the first season I've tried Marshall's Delight. So we'll see what the humid heat of July and August bring! So far he seems happy and he certainly lives up to his reputation as a pollinator attractor. We are hoping he won't be aggressive or thug like, but, he is a mint! He can't go too far...on one side is a ledge of limestone that is quite large. On the other, is me with my perennial shovel and clippers!

I'm hoping he's planted in the right spot. He's in pretty full sun in some great soil. I'll be giving him extra water...monarda really do like an evenly moist growing conditions and you all know that it gets just a bit dry in this garden during the summer....which means more compost and leaf mold this fall.

I don't usually coddle plants and rarely buy plants that need extra watering. It's a test! How much do I want this plant in my garden? How much extra care and attention shall he require? Extra water in the summer...a hair dryer in the winter! It's definitely a test!

So far I do like this plant. I like the bees and the butterflies that have found their way to the flowers. I want to see the hummingbirds. It is so cool to stand in the driveway and watch all that activity; to hear the buzz and hum. So I am willing to take the extra steps to make sure he's happy....I can't wait to see the hummingbirds....maybe I'll get a good photo!

Gail

“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” Ramakrisna


47 comments:

  1. Good morning Gail, hope your rain helped the monarda. We have red and purple here, and they all have the mildew for evenly moist has been a joke so far. But we are having thunderstorms every afternoon. The hummers have been seen visiting the monarda but of course no camera in hand when I am working in the garden, too dirty. It is still the holy grail, that hummer pic. Our plants do travel and come up far from the original planting site. I don't even remember where the original site was but welcome them wherever, just glad they are alive.

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  2. Good morning Frances. The rain helped but I have no delusions that I won't be dragging the hose down the driveway to the sunny bed to water regularly! A big patch of it won't be bad. Did I read that the offspring rarely come true?

    The holy grail of photograph..isn't that the truth!

    Enjoy the rain!

    Gail

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  3. It looks great and quite a stand already!

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  4. Tina,

    The Tennessee gardeners are up and at 'em!

    There are three plants,but I suspect it will be separating them next year.

    Gail

    how's the rain?

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  5. Gail do you mind if I link my post back to yours on the monarda ? .. I did a post on Petite Delight for Prairie Rose because she was a bit discouraged with hers being so small .. I said wait until next year when siblings pop up !
    I don't get all these gorgeous butterflies you do and I have lots of dill and fennel in my garden .. BIG sigh !
    Great pictures, information and post !!
    Joy

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  6. My Marshall's Delight is in its fourth year. It has not been too much of a thug. It sort of expands and contracts, each year putting up stems in a slightly different configuration. It has not been too aggressive, and is planted near veronica, black-eye susan, and a space I use for a different annual each year - coleus this year. I have some mildew this year for the first time, but I have admittedly been remiss in hitting this area of the garden with water very regularly, allowing Mother Nature to do most of the work. When it is done blooming I will cut it back hard, and use the regrown foliage to dry for the aromatics. I'd like to get some of the deep red cultivar.

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  7. Joy,

    Feel free to link...and I will too. Isn't it a lovely plant! I wonder why no butterflies? Maybe they are shy and wait until you are in some other part of the garden! While visiting the monarda they also stop by the l
    blazing star, coneflower and verbena...so it might be the call of the natives.

    Gail

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  8. I have Marshalls Delight and it's been no trouble at all. The clump has grown, but there has been very little wandering, and no powdery mildew. Two thumbs up!

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  9. Gosh, it is beautiful. I've always loved it (I think the variety I have is "Blue Stocking") but it always dies out on me. I've never heard of the milk solution for mildew. You will have to let us know if it works.

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  10. Gail, your photos are absolutely beautiful!

    I've never tried the milk and water remedy. I'm a little skeptical. It couldn't hurt to try tho.
    Marnie

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  11. This flower will be added to my "Want" list. I enjoy my fluttering and buzzing friends so much...

    This is the first I have heard about the Milk. That peaks my Interest.

    The little butterfly is the Silver-Spotted Skipper! He is a cutie as are all Butterflies. Be sure to tune in for "Flying Flowers" at In the Garden this Sunday!

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  12. I planted three "petite delight" monarda this summer for the same reason as you, Gail--to draw the butterflies and hummingbirds. They were very "petite" when I got them from a mail-order company and haven't grown very much. I'm not sure they'll even flower this year; just so they come back next year!
    I laughed at Frances' comment about the hummingbird picture as the Holy Grail. I have been waiting for the same picture, but the hummingbirds are not stopping by for a drink lately. Love her description of it!

    I'm glad you're getting some rain.

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  13. Matriarchy,

    Thank you for the good info! This year the deep red monarda that is growing in semi-shade bloomed for the first time. I think the early spring rains we had helped greatly. I can't recall the cultivar or even if it was a cultivar...I get many of my plants from a wildflower sale at our local botanical garden and haven't always kept tags. I would love to know how you make and use your aromatics!

    Gail

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  14. Wow, it is a very pretty plant! Good luck with the hummingbird pictures, they flit so fast I barely have time to think about getting my camera and they're already flying away. I suppose if I wouldn't have bought the cheapest decent digital camera around I may have had hope. Alas, I don't think I will be getting ANY good bird pics. At least the other pictures are pretty good.

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  15. joyce,

    That is good news...and you want to believe the plant pr is correct! We'll see how diligetnI will be in watering this guy!

    Gail

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  16. Rose,

    I have a monarda in my wildflower garden going on 5 yrs and it just flowered this yr for the first time! It smells delicious when bumped against but the bloom (red) is welcome! I guess it had enough water..Note to self....water, water and water the monarda. These are new plants and who knows what they will do next year! Flower I hope!

    I loved the description, too...we are all poised out there camera at the ready!

    gail

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  17. Gail, I'm oohing and aahing over the pictures and cogitating over whether Monarda would do well in my garden. I've had the red ones before and not been successful but hope springs eternal ... especially when butterflies and/or hummingbirds are involved!

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  18. phillip,

    Maybe this variety will make it! I think the secret is water! I did read that it is native to Georgia...you would think Alabama would be a good place for it! Also, follow the link to Gardenjoyforme (just added) to see another small mildew resistant monarda.

    Gail

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  19. roses and lilacs,

    I added a link to a page about milk and mildew...hope it gives some helpful mildew advice! Thanks for the compliment on my photos...it's a photogenic plant!

    Gail

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  20. Skeeter,

    Thank you...I've added the name and a link to In The garden! There is a link to another monarda that is just as cute!

    oooh! Flying Flowers! I will be there!


    gail

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  21. cinj,

    I don't know that I will catch the little hummers either...my eye sight is going along with my hearing and back.

    BTW, I have been really enjoying your posts...you are a very funny lady! The locked out side in your jammies was a great story!

    gail

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  22. cindy,

    I am thinking that monarda is a commitment to regular watering! I don't know how long this honeymoon phase will last at clay and limestone!
    But right now I am going steady with Marshall! It's serious lurv! I see a watering ring in his future.

    Maybe he has a brother for you?
    gail

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  23. Gail, a brother, hmmm. My favorite nursery has a big summer sale tomorrow. If there's a Monarda there, I'll quiz him about your guy Marshall and see if his intentions towards me are honorable!

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  24. Cindy,

    A marriage broker might be just the thing!

    Gail

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  25. Great pictures Gail. I love monarda too for the same reasons you write about ~ it's a butterfly, hummingbird, & bee magnet! Mine is just about to bloom and after seeing your pictures, I'm ready!!!

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  26. kathleen,

    I can't wait to see your photos! I hope to stop by and spend more time at your blog...when you say paper crafting, do you make paper? My dearest friend from college makes paper...beautiful paper from old linen!

    I am glad you liked the photos...it is a lovely plant.

    Gail

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  27. Thanks for the link Gail .. I don't think Rose has realized my link to her yet ? LOL
    I have huge Joe Pye and so many coneflowers it is ridiculous .. I think we have waves of butterflies at different times in the month maybe ?
    I love that picture of the summer sky on your sidebar .. it is awesome !

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  28. I don't grow any Monarda, I guess because I'm afraid it's a thug. It is beautiful though, especially with the yellow of that Swallowtail to set it off.

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  29. Hi again Gail, you get a real chat fest going on the comments, so fun for all. The red one is usually Jacob Kline and the milk thing works best with skim milk, I have read somewhere. You make me laugh with the eye sight, back and hearing all going. With me the eyes are terrible, the back and shoulders hurt, my wrists are so weak I cannot open a jar, but my hearing is like superman's. I have to turn the TV way down and the neighbors car stereo when he leaves for work in the morning at 5:30 wakes me up. No whispering behind my back, I will hear you! LOL

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  30. Gail, your Marshall's Delight is beautiful, and I really enjoyed your photos. I used to have a purple monarda, but I don't know the type. It looked more like a shrub, about 5' tall, but died to the ground in winter. I had to leave it when we moved, but I think I need to find another. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  31. Thanks for the link Gail! I had fun documenting the fluttering things but oh, what a pain in the butt to capture the pictures! Can we say Headache not to mention the sweat lost from my body in the humidity! I put as much water on my body with showers as the yard was getting from the hose! LOL..

    Your too funny Frances!

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  32. MMD,

    It might be...I don't know yet, but I think(?) it rips out easily. Let's ask Frances or some of the other gardeners with monarda experience.

    Gail

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  33. Joy,

    The photo of faux Coal was cool! Yes those native plants bring in the bees and flutterbies.

    Gail

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  34. Frances, and you started it off this morning...Holy Grail indeed. Now I will forever think of that! You are so right we all have our Holy Grail shots!

    Aging is certainly fun.

    MMD said she didn't plant monarda because she thought he might be a thug. Pulling him out would be fun...he smells so darn good. I suppose in ideal situations...constant moisture and sunshine he could be a bit rambunctious!

    Gail

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  35. skeeter,

    Any time and I do really appreciate the flutterbie id!

    gail

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  36. To MMD, he is not a thug anywhere I have lived, but Chicago is not one of those. Give it a try, live dangerously!

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  37. Gail,
    A very striking color... this Marshall's Delight! I'm wondering if it is something I can grow? The bees, butterflies and hopefully hummingbirds are a big bonus... always worth a little extra coddling.
    Meems @ Hoe&Shovel

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  38. Hi Gail, and all you Monarda fans out there!
    Gail, when you mentioned Marshall's Delight over at my place, I had never heard of this one, but it looks exactly like 'Bluestocking' perhaps just a shorter cultivar? Ours just started blooming this week, so we have a few things blooming in common finally!

    My 2 cents on some of the questions/musings:

    I consider myself pretty experienced with Monarda, since we've had it over 9 years and still love it. Yes, it will roam around eventually, but Gail seems to have the fortuitously ideal position for this with that limestone ledge. So when it gets a bit exuberant, she can just thin from the front of the patch, and it is a good idea to dig up good sized chunks every 2-3 years if it's spreading too much for you.

    We have very little trouble giving starts away, as people are always stopping when the Red one blooms, wanting to know what it is.

    For powdery mildew ... you can use a sulfur solution spray (nasty smelling) that will generally take care of it. But the best is preventative, organic and natural: plant all sorts of alliums nearby because they give off sulfur directly into the soil, which takes care of the mildew. Another good reason to have alliums around, and even plain old onions will work (we do that in the veggie garden).

    Frances, you crack me up there! And yes Holy Grail is just how I consider shooting hummers, but I'm hoping with the fancier new camera I got this spring I can get some. Would even like to try to get some video...

    Oh, and dear, hesitant MMD ... just. do. it! Too bad you're not closer or I'd send you home with a couple of big pots of either color you'd like. I guess you really were scared by those stands of the red stuff I posted a while back at my place ... sorry if I spooked you. You'd really love it, believe me. And you could always yank it if it gets in the way, it's pretty easy to deal with, if you're forced to do that!

    Gail, I'd say it's doing really well for you, and so glad you're enjoying it! One question: I've read that the purple one's foliage is supposed to smell like chocolate, but I just don't get that from it. What do you think? I love the citrusy scent of the red, and that's one of the nicest things about that plant, aside from the blooms, of course!

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  39. meems,

    I hope you can grow it, it is lovely and you would love the bees, butterflies and the rumored hummingbirds! I am hoping to catch a glimpse of a hummer if not the Holy Grail shot! Plant Delights has two monardas that may survive your heat and humidity..http://www.plantdelights.com/Catalog/Current/page64.html

    I would would ask them!

    If you do grow it...I know your photos will be a delight!

    Gail

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  40. IVG,

    Hey there...so glad you came by for the conversation.

    I remember you said something about the alliums being a natural sulphur producer before and thank you for restating. Now I must add memory going to the list of other complaints-- back, hearing and eyesight!

    Back to the alliums...what are your favorites? Alliums never seemed to survive in the garden here and I am wondering if I should treat them as annuals? I bet Frances can make a few recommendations...she grows down the road (well, a few hours away).

    I will let you know about the foliage...I have to prepare to go out into the bug zone where the chiggers are waiting!

    Gail

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  41. Great post! I have a similar monarda--I think the plant label said "Bluestocking" when I bought it, but it looks very much like your Marshall. And I have a bright red one, too, that came from a friend so I don't know the cultivar (maybe Cambridge Scarlet?). I've had few problems with either mildew or uncontrolled spread, and it comes up easily if it moves where you don't want it (and if you catch it young enough, it's very easy to transplant). The main problem I have with the red one is that it flops, but I use a strategy I learned from "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden" (she uses it for conflower, but it works pretty well for monarda, too). Cut the plants in front back by about half in May; they stay more compact so they help support the taller ones behind. Plus you extend the bloom--and the bees and butterflies!

    I think I told you the hummingbirds land on my deer cages--even so, I haven't been able to get a good picture.

    What a great post and great comments--wishing you and Marshall all the best . . .

    Cosmo

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  42. Cosmo,

    Thank you. The cutting the back...back in May sounds like a great idea!

    Marshall is looking good and the bees are very happy. I loved that the hummers land on the cages...they move so fast I think we need a stop action camera to catch them in a photo. It is a long lasting cut flower too.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Gail

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  43. I noticed the butterflies here today as well and the monarda is in full bloom. I do have the caterpillars on the monarda and they eat the flowers so it is a choice to make, spray or not. I have one sacrificial monarda and they seem to prefer some colors to others. The hummers love'em also!

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  44. Layanee,

    I noticed that the bees prefer Marshall's Delight rather than Grand Marshall...interesting! GM is a bit redder in color? We all have our favorite restaurants! How's the weather?

    Gail

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  45. Hi Gail and all,
    From what we've read, any of the ornamental alliums (or even chives or garlic) will do this for the soil. We currently just have some Giganteum, the purple ones with blooms about 5" across. I'd like to add some of the "drumstick" alliums too, because they're smaller, more likely to naturalize and come in a great array of colors. You could surround an area with those without spending too much, because as alliums go, they're pretty cheap. Van Bourgondien always has $5 deals on those for decent quantities. I may just get some for fall

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  46. IVG,

    Thanks I was hoping that chives and garlic would work although, the alliums are on my list. I saw them growing beautifully with daylily and thought the day lily leaves disguised their dying stalks. I will try van B
    today!

    Gail

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  47. Love, love, love Monarda Gail! Love the blooms, love the scent, have had bee balm in the garden since the first garden I had with more than pass along plants.

    They've never been invasive for me, and until last year never had powdery mildew. That's ironic, considering I have Jacob Cline here and it's supposed to be pretty mildew-resistant!

    Thanks for the milk idea. I don't use fungicides, so Mr. C got cut to the ground last year. This year, so far, so good. I'll definitely try that remedy though if/when powdery mildew shows it's ugly face around here next time. (I'm sure it's a matter of when, not if!)

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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