Mountain mint is an easy-to-grow perennial that flowers from July to August. It is also a magnet for many pollinators such as wasps, skippers, bees, and moths. Mountain mints are a great addition to a pollinator garden. Mountain mints (Pycnanthemum species) are well adapted to South Carolina’s growing conditions and there are 11 species of mountain mint in the state. Most species occur naturally in the Piedmont and mountainous sections of the state, but four species are indigenous to the coastal plains.
Mountain mint has blooms of dense clusters of white to lavender, tubular flowers. These are held above a whitish, modified leaf called a bract. The bracts provide a visual aid to pollinator insects to help them discover the small, nectar-rich flower clusters.
Mountain mints grow well in sunny to partly sunny sites that have well-drained soils. They are very drought-tolerant plants once established, but they do grow best in soils that are somewhat moist. Mountain mints are spread by rhizomes that make a colony and may spread aggressively. Their spread can be restricted by keeping the soil more dry. Plants grow 2-3 feet tall with the flower heads at the top. The foliage contains pulegone, which has a minty, but medicinal fragrance. The fragrant chemical is also present in pennyroral which helps protect these mint plants from foliage feeders.
For more information on mountain mint, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or mig.org. E-mail Outen at [email protected]
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