Mountain mint plants are not the same as true mints; they belong to a different family. But, they have a similar growth habit, appearance, and aroma, and they can be used like true mints. Mountain mint care is largely hands-off, and it will grow prolifically, so be careful where you plant it.
Mountain Mint Information
Mountain mint, a group of about 20 plants in the Pycnanthemum genus, is native to the southeastern U.S. They are perennials and bloom from about July through September. Mountain mint grows in clumps up to about two to three feet (0.6 to 1 m.) tall. It grows densely with dark green leaves that have a strong spearmint aroma. The plants produce a profusion of pretty, tubular flowers in white or pink. The uses of mountain mint are similar to those of true mint and include making tea or using in both sweet and savory dishes. As a garden element, mountain mint is attractive in native beds, meadows, and other naturalized areas.
Growing Mountain Mint in the Garden
The care of mountain mint in your garden will be easy once you get it established, and that isn’t difficult either if you have the right conditions. Like true mint, mountain mint can grow well even in tough conditions and will quickly overpower and over-grow other plants if given the chance. Take care in choosing where to place this plant, as it can take over beds and become a difficult weed to manage. Mountain mint grows best in zones 4 to 8. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. Its water needs are not great and it tolerates drought well. You can start mountain mint from seed, planting outdoors when the last frost has passed, or you can use transplants. Water until they are established, and then leave your mountain mints alone and they should thrive. Either plant mountain mint where you are happy to have them roam or prune out some of the roots in spring to keep them more contained to one location. Containers are good options too.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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