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Bee balm bushes begin bending; bothers buzzv
July 28, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Why is my bee balm falling over?

I'm growing new bee balm (monarda) plants for the first time. Everything I read about them suggests upright bushy growth from 1-1/2 to 4 feet. But after reaching a height of only 10-12", all of the stalks have laid down on the ground. This is happening to all my plants.

They appear healthy, and are spreading out roots with new stems emerging within a 6-10" radius from the new plants. They are sheltered from the wind, get full sun 6 hours a day, are in clayish soil amended with cypress mulch and potting soil, watered every other day to all drainage but not allow drying out. I fertilize every other week with 10-10-10.

Gardeners of the green: should this be happening?
posted by buzzv to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
 
Is a pet or animal (like deer) walking past or over them, knocking the stems down?
posted by aught at 2:09 PM on July 28, 2011


I think you are over-fertilizing. This makes the plants grow too fast, resulting in weak growth.

Also, potting soil is not a good amendment for garden soil. I'm not a soil expert, but clay soil amended with potting soil doesn't sound like a good combination. You can find all manner of soil resources online, and advice specific to your local soil types.
posted by free hugs at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2011


We have clayey soil here, too, and the bee balm in our garden is doing just fine. It gets several hours of sun and we water every other day. So yes, it may be over-fertilizing. (We never fertilize ours.)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:24 PM on July 28, 2011


I fertilize every other week with 10-10-10.

Definitely, definitely, definitely massively overfertilized. Bee balm is not heavy feeder at all. The general rule is that with just about every perennial, you feed it once in early spring, and then let it be. In fact, you probably don't even need to fertilize bee balm even once if you're growing in clay -- it's a mint, and bee balm is ridiculously tough when it gets enough water.

(Also, like free hugs said. Don't use potting soil in the garden because it contains all kind of weird-ass stuff to keep it from compacting inside a pot, and hardwood mulch shouldn't be mixed into soil as long as you can see fibers or actual bits of wood, as its decomposition will reduce the nitrogen content of the surrounding soil.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:25 PM on July 28, 2011


Way, way too much water and fertilizer. Clay soil is very fertile, Monarda doesn't ever need to be fertilize unless there is an actual deficiency. Clay soil also holds a lot of water- you should only be watering when the top two to three inches of soil have dried out.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2011


Also, potting soil is not a good amendment for garden soil. I'm not a soil expert, but clay soil amended with potting soil doesn't sound like a good combination.

Dittoing this- it's not bad, but not helpful and probably expensive. The absolute best amendment of any sort for clay soil is compost.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:08 PM on July 28, 2011


Echoing "too much water". Clay soil can act like a container in that water you pour in just sits in the bottom of your clay hole and is slow to drain out, drowning your plant.

watered every other day to all drainage but not allow drying out.

Let it mostly dry out, most plants are adapted to run on the dry side more than they are to run on the wet side.
posted by banshee at 3:26 PM on July 28, 2011


Well, this is just awesome. Thank you all for setting me straight on so many things.
posted by buzzv at 6:41 PM on July 28, 2011


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