Herbs for pollinators
Hi, I have just planted herbs such as Thai basil, sweet basil,sweet mint, garden sage, and lemon balm for the bees. I do not intend to use this particular grouping for culinary use, they are just for the bees. Should I fertilize them and just let them grow tall, or should they be pinched back to become bushy? Will pinched back growing tips flower, or will they branch out to result in many flower heads? Should I handle some of these differently than others? Thank you, Chuck Thornton
Pollinators need room to move about so I'm not sure a bushier plant is better for them. I would cut back every other stem when flowers start to show. The trimmed stems will produce another flower but at a later time. This way, you have a longer season of pollinator heaven. For the basil, trim off the flowers when the petals drop; it will produce new flowers if you don't let the plant produce seed. Lemon balm and mint are garden thugs and will gladly take over and spread everywhere via underground roots/stolons. They might clamber over your other plants and shade them out. Fertilizing will only encourage this behavior. An inch or two of compost around the plants should be sufficient nourishment for your purpose. You'll have happy bees!