You knew it wouldn’t be long before I featured an ornamental grass in a “Plant Combo of the Week” post and you would be correct. This one is brutally simple with the two plants available at every garden center around.
I give you Monarda (Bee Balm) and Calamagrostis acutiflora (Feather Reed Grass) ‘Karl Foerster’.
This combo peeks in early summer when the Bee Balm is in full bloom and smelling deliciously minty and ‘Karl Foerster’ blooms have settled into their long lasting buff color.
Take a step back in my garden and you’ll see that I also have them matched up with Joe Pye Weed which blooms the latest of the three.
But we’ll keep it simple for now and keep Joe Pye Weed and my exquisite design skills out of it.
I’d love to tell you that I masterminded this pairing from the beginning but of course I didn’t. The Karl Foerster grasses have been in this location for years with the only upkeep being a quick trim to the ground in late winter. By that time, new signs of growth are already evident since Karl is a cool season grass.
I should add one more piece of maintenance. Every three years I divide these grasses and as a result, have a ton throughout my garden. It couldn’t be an easier task and the divided sections are so quick to establish, with the only requirement being supplemental watering if divided during a dry time.
The Karl Foerster grasses look great spring, summer and even into fall, when the blooms shine when back lit by the late afternoon sun.
The Bee Balm started as three tiny little plugs that I shoved in an open spot at the end of the gardening season and in three year’s time, they have exploded.
Are they invasive? I would say they are “aggressive spreaders” but I have no issue pulling those that jump out of bounds and planting the piece in another spot or gulp, tossing them into the compost pile.
In case you weren’t already aware, Bee Balm attracts visitors like mad and provides endless hours of entertainment and photo opportunities all summer.
Even after the blooms fully fade in late summer, they still look great with their brown seed heads.
Both plants thrive in my clay soil, don’t mind some wet feet from time to time and are 100% ignored by the deer and rabbits.