Thursday’s Feature: Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’

It’s been a very hectic couple of weeks at the home of Cosmos and Cleome, and I beg your indulgence again this week as I bring you yet another post from two years ago, this time Bee Balm, Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline.’

005‘Jacob Cline’ is a tall, vigorous cultivar of Monarda, featuring scarlet-red flowers.  It generally grows four to five feet tall in my garden.  If pinched back early in the summer, it branches out well and stays a bit shorter.  Cutting the plant back to a set of double leaves once its flower has died results in more, smaller blooms within a few weeks.

In my Zone 5b garden in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ begins blooming in early July, and, with dead-heading, continues to put out blooms until frost. It seems tolerant of almost any soil condition, and has average water needs.  While powdery mildew can be a problem for some Bee Balm cultivars, I rarely see it on my ‘Jacob Cline’.  Deer, rabbits, and woodchucks don’t touch it.  People, however, may enjoy tea made from its pungent mint-scented leaves.008

Even given these assets, ‘Jacob Cline’ is not my favorite plant.  I am not a fan of red in my garden, much preferring a palette of pink, purple, and yellow.  To my eye, it looks weedy, and its blooms awkward.  It also spreads like chicken pox!

However, the hummingbirds love it and the woodchucks hate it, so it therefore gets to stay!

After trying this plant in at least three other places around my yard, I have finally found a spot for it where both I and it are happy.  ‘Jacob Cline’ now lives under my kitchen window, against the west-facing wall of the house, where it receives the brunt of the afternoon sun.  Here, at the back of the house, out of public view, ‘Jacob Cline’ has the freedom and room to ramble as it will, without infringing upon other, more well-loved, flowers. 139What you see here is the result of a mere three small shoots transplanted at the end of last summer!013It is a very nice thing to see the hummingbirds visit nearly every time I am at the kitchen sink doing dishes!  I dearly wish to get a picture of one taking nectar from a red bloom, but the camera never seems handy at the right time, and my hands are wet, and there’s a window screen in the way, so capturing that moment is proving a challenge!

To sum up, Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ is a fine plant for someone who likes red, needs a tall, back-of-the-border sort of plant, has plenty of room and patience for its roaming tendencies, and wants to attract hummingbirds to the garden!011

(For those keeping track, we delivered my son safely to college, three hours away, on Tuesday.  Then I came home and spent literally the whole day Wednesday cleaning and reorganizing his room in preparation for the Rotary exchange student we will pick up from the airport and welcome into our home later today!  Exciting, busy times!

I don’t see anything on next week’s schedule that will keep me from publishing a new Thursday’s Feature, and plan to highlight Helenium!)

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