This American native is an attractive plant that will be equally at home in your flower border or keeping company with the sage and thyme in your herb garden.
Mountain mints bloom throughout summer until first frosts. The flowers are arranged in round, flat, tight clusters at the top of the plant. The 12mm (½in) long flowers are whitish or pale lavender, the lower lip spotted with purple. Like their close cousins the Monardas, they often develop white pigments in the leaves. The silver-velvety bracts that frame the flower clusters are especially decorative.
Delightfully aromatic, the floral-peppermint scent is subtly different from other mints. Use in potpourri, incense, and as an ingredient in natural insect pest repellent formulas.
Mountain mint is edible and excellent in salads. Raw or cooked the flower buds and leaves have a spicy, mint-like flavour that makes a great spice or seasoning for meat. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a delicious mint-like tea.
Valued for their ability to attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, from morning until evening these plants are alive with the dance of the pollinators. Mountain mint is a great nectar plant and its honey is much sought after.
Sowing: Sow in Spring, February to May or in Autumn, September to October
Sow seed thinly on the surface of lightly firmed, moistened seed compost in pots or trays. (fine seed, so best done by using seedspoons or adding the seed to a small amount of sand). Press the seeds lightly into the compost. Keep moist and out of the sun, watering from below. Easy to germinate, usually 14 to 21 days at 20°C (68°F)
Resist the urge to prick out or transplant until seedlings have 4 or 5 true leaves. Transplant seedlings into 15cm (6in) pots to grow on.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost. Place in full sun or part shade and plant 30cm (12in) apart or in 30cm 12in containers. Pinch out the tip of the main stem to encourage bushy growth
Seeds can also be sown directly outdoors in April or May, but in a garden situation you may wish to contain the plant. While not nearly as invasive as true mint varieties, Mountain Mint will spread. While some gardeners enjoy growing a plant that increases in size each year, in some situations, you may need to pull up the new shoots each year to curtail any wandering tendencies. You may choose to plant in a container or in a pot sunk into the ground to restrict the roots.
The preference is full or partial sun and moist to slightly dry conditions. They don’t need rich soil, but try to keep the soil lightly moist through the first half of summer. (Established plants are very tolerant of late-summer drought.) Division in spring.
Pick the leaves as required. Gather tops and leaves when flowers bloom and dry for later herb use. Best used fresh but dry very well for those pick-me-up winter teas.
Mountain-mint is edible and medicinal, use raw or cooked, the flower buds and leaves have a spicy, mint-like flavour that makes a great spice or seasoning for meat.
The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing mint-like medicinal herb tea that is alterative (for that run down feeling), analgesic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogue and tonic. The tea is used in alternative medicine in the treatment of indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. A strong decoction is medicinal poured over wounds. Crushed flowers are placed on tooth ache and almost instantly kills pain.
Very aromatic, the herb is used in potpourri or burned as incense. Placed in a muslin bag it can be used as bath additive, and is said to be very soothing to irritated skin.
It will freshen laundry when used in the dryer. Thrown in a drawer or trunk it will not only freshen clothing and blankets, but keep moths away. Sprinkle on carpets to freshen the whole house
Many people grow mountain mint for use as an insect repellent. Crushed flowers are rubbed on clothing repel insects. Rub a handful of this herb on your pants or use a fresh wad of mountain mint’s bruised stems, stuck into your pocket or hat, to help keep gnats from buzzing your face when you’re outdoors.
Perennial herb, native to Eastern North America - Ontario and Michigan south to Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Found growing on gravelly shores, meadows, dry to wet thickets, roadsides, open woods. The common name 'Mountain Mint' is something of a misnomer, as the majority of Pycnanthemum spp. is usually found in prairies or woodland areas that aren't particularly hilly or mountainous.
This herb was considered powerful medicine and used by medicine men to revive the dead. Several Native American tribes claim that the fresh crushed flowers, when stuffed up the nose of a person near death will revive them.
Around 1790, as French botanist Andre Michaux tromped through the Pennsylvania woods in search of useful plants, he encountered knee-high masses of a lovely scented plant he called mountain mint. Today, the common name mountain mint is used for more than 20 native species of the genus Pycnanthemum.
The genus name, Pycnanthemum, means "many clustered flowers", hinting at the reason that these plants can accommodate so many hungry visitors simultaneously.
Pilosum means “covered with long, soft hairs” referring to the soft hairs on the stems of this plant.
Some authorities refer to this plant as Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. pilosum.
Pycnanthemum pilosum is pronounced - pik-NAN-thee-mum pil-OH-sum
It is occasionally incorrectly spelt without the “n” – as Pycanthemum.
Other plants that share mountain mint’s preference for moist partial shade include Elecampane, Lady’s Mantle, Mallow, Monarda, Obedient Plant (Physostegia) and Sweet Cicely.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50mg Average Seed Count 250 Seeds Common Name American Mountain Mint, Hairy Mountain Mint Family Lamiaceae Genus Pycnanthemum Species pilosum Synonym Koellia pilosa Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Whitish or pale lavender, 12mm (½in) long Natural Flower Time June to September. Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 38 to 45cm (15 to 18 in) Position Sun to Partial Shade Soil Poor to good quality, dry to moist Time to Sow Sow in Spring, Feb to May or in Autumn, Sept to Oct. Germination 14 to 21 days at 20°C (68°F) Harvest Gather tops and leaves when flowers bloom and dry for later herb use.