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  • Author or Editor: Rachel S. Smith x
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We evaluated several horticultural cultivars and species of Monarda, a genus native to North America with a center of diversity in the Southeast and advertised as beneficial to wildlife, to assess landscape performance with respect to vegetative habit, flower production, and disease tolerance in Georgia Piedmont and montane habitats. We established two experimental sites: the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens (USDA Zone 8b) and the Georgia Mountain Education and Research Center in Blairsville (USDA Zone 7b). We then tracked plant performance over 2 years after establishment. Our study included 10 samples of Monarda, representing five cultivars and four species. Estimated height and width at flowering showed M. bradburiana, M. Sugar Buzz® Grape Gumball, and the M. punctata ecotypes were smaller than other tested taxa. M. fistulosa had the most flowers at the Blairsville site and equal flowering with M. punctata at the Athens location, but most taxa flowered for 2 to 3 months with ∼100 flowering stems per stand. All samples were susceptible to powdery mildew, but M. bradburiana displayed the highest level of tolerance. Otherwise, cultivars tended to be more tolerant to powdery mildew than species. The observed variations in horticultural characteristics and performance highlight the high value of this genus for Georgia landscapes.

Open Access

We analyzed the floral morphology and nectar production of several cultivars and species of Monarda representing five cultivars and four species grown in Georgia Piedmont and Montane regions. Over the course of two seasons, we detected significant differences among the samples in terms of inflorescence size, petal lobe and corolla widths and lengths, and total sugar content. M. didyma had larger glomerules, longer corollas and petal lobes, and higher nectar volume and total sugar content per flower. M. fistulosa and M. punctata had smaller glomerules, corolla and petal lobe lengths, and total sugar content per flower. Petal lobe and corolla length strongly correlated with sucrose and nectar production. Combined with data on horticultural performance, these results could be valuable in informing breeding goals for conservation-oriented landscape plants.

Open Access