The Q&A Archives: Monarda

Question: My monarda plants always get too tall. Can I cut them back before they bloom to make them stockier? When do I do this? Early spring before the buds set? HOw much can I cut them back?

Answer: Monarda is naturally tall and gangly and mildew problems will contribute to that bare-legged effect. You can try cutting them back early in the season, before they reach about a foot high. Take off about a third to a half of the height, or simply pinch the growth tips when they are about six inches tall. This may make them a bit denser and shorter and will also delay the bloom period a bit. However, thicker growth will reduce air circulation and thus may contribute to increased mildew problems. If you need shorter plants, you might look into some of the newer dwarf varieties. Otherwise, try planting them to the rear of the border and face them down with something that stays denser at the base such as black eyed Susans.

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