How To Plant And Grow Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum)?

Who doesn’t relish moments spent sipping on a tall glass of mint lemonade on a hot sunny afternoon?

Mint lemonade is not just a tasty delicacy; it’s a refreshing drink that can help you cool down on those scorching days of the summer.

And what gives it the perfect cooling effect? The mint — of course!

Mint is undeniably one of the key ingredients used in the culinary and medicinal worlds.

But did you know that despite all this versatility — and many other impressive facts about it — most gardeners shy away from planting it in their garden?

Why? Because it can easily take over a place.

And unlike other plants that take over the garden, mint usually spreads underground through thick roots. So, once it has begun to dominate a place (which sometimes takes a season for the entire bed), you must dig out all the roots to end its reign.

And let’s be honest—justifying why most gardeners choose to see it on other people’s farms rather than their own is a lot of work, to say the least.

But what if there was a species that was easy to control? It means endless cocktails in the summer without worrying about mint taking over your garden.

Well, that’s where mountain mint comes in — the perfect solution for every gardener who wants to leverage the benefits of mint without the headache that comes with taming its growth.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into examining what mountain mint is, its propagation, how to grow and maintain it healthy — and lots of other helpful information. Keep reading for the full picture of what we’ve lined up for you today.

What Is Mountain Mint?

Before we explore the intricacies of how you can effectively grow and keep mountain mint healthy, let’s begin with the most basic question — what exactly is mountain mint?

Mountain Mints, also known as Pycnanthemum (pronounced as pik-NAN-thee-mum), is a group of mints native to North America and all parts of North Carolina (NC).

Mountain mints come in over 20 types, with the shape of the leaves acting as the distinctive feature. The leaves can be heart-shaped, needle-shaped, or anything in between.

These leaves can be dark green to silver green and usually have toothed margins depending on the type.

Like other mints, the stems are square, and the plant blooms around the end of summer. The flowers are densely packed and can be white or shades of purple, depending on the type you choose.

As for the scent, it isn’t as strong as that of the sweet mint or spearmint, but it’s still potent enough to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies and repel intruders like deer and rabbits.

Now, on the issue of spreading, all variants of mountain mints do spread. However, there’s a notable difference in how they do it compared to other mints.

Mountain mints’ underground spreading isn’t vigorous — it’s way too slow. This means less work and time jacking it back if undesired compared to when dealing with other mints.

Mountain Mint Propagation

Propagation simply means the process by which new plants grow from various sources. In other words, propagation involves increasing the population of plants by using different methods. 

Now, there are several ways mountain mints can be propagated. It can happen via:

  • Seeds
  • Cuttings
  • Division
  • Transplanting

1. Seed Propagation

Seed propagation simply means growing a plant from seed. When planting mountain mints, you can either plant the seeds in a nursery or directly sow them into the ground, depending on the time of the year, space availability, and locality.

When planting in the nursery, use pots and don’t cover the seeds. The pots should be filled with soil, leaving an inch of space between the soil surface and the rim of the pot. Then, moisten the seeds and keep them in indirect sunlight.  Keep the temperature range between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for higher chances of success.

When direct seeding, sow the seeds close to the soil surface, preferably 3mm deep. Mountain mint seeds need light to germinate, so if you don’t keep them close to the surface, they simply won’t get enough of it, making the chances of germination slim.

Remember, the best time to plant these seeds is early spring, immediately after the soil has warmed up. Doing it earlier may expose them to critters over the winter, so waiting until winter elapses is best.

Once planted, keep the seeds moist for higher chances of success. After germination, clear any weeds around to minimize competition for resources. Also, consider thinning out the seedlings after they’ve developed a leaf or two for best growth.

Whether using nursery pots or direct seeding, germination should take about a week to two, but don’t be surprised when it extends by a week.

One more thing — sometimes, you may need to stratify the seeds before planting. This will remove dormancy and maximize the odds of germination. To do that, just place the seeds in a paper towel. Then, fold it twice and dampen it before placing it in a plastic bag for a month or 2-month refrigeration.

2. Cuttings

If you don’t want the hassle of planting seeds, the other way of growing mountain mint is through cuttings.

Sometimes, this will be the only way of propagation, but that applies especially to other types of mints.

Now, to use cutting as a propagation method, you need:

  • Rooting hormone
  • 4-inch nursery pots
  • Growing medium

Here’s the procedure:

  1. Fill the pots with a moist growing medium, leaving an inch of space between the soil level and the rim.
  2. Get 4-inch cuttings of the mint, ensuring that you cut just below a set of leaves.
  3. Remove the bottom set of leaves
  4. Deep the cutting into rooting hormone
  5. Poke a hole inside the growing medium, insert the cutting, and adequately cover it with the medium.
  6. Place it in a dappled shade and maintain the medium moist until the plant has grown roots.

And that’s it.

Usually, it takes a few weeks for the cutting to develop roots. You can know that the plant has been rooted when you feel some resistance when you attempt to pull it up.

Remember, once the plant has developed roots, you can transfer it to an area with sunlight for about a week. That is called acclimatization and helps to prepare the plant for transplant.

3. Division

If you don’t want to use seeding or cuttings, the other way of propagating mountain mints is through division.

Division is just what the name says — splitting an already-grown plant into smaller pieces that can grow independently.

This method works best with plants that have rhizomes or tubers, and mountain mint falls into this category.

That said, how does this method work?

Well, to divide a plant, here’s what you do:

  • Wait until these plants are dormant, usually late fall or early spring.
  • Locate the transplant location and begin to water it 2 or 3 days before the transplant.
  • Gently using a garden fork or spade to ensure you don’t damage the roots, take half of the new lump or less.
  • Transplant them to new locations.

Now, you can choose to either directly transplant them into the ground or propagate them in nursery pots instead.

4. Transplanting

The last method of propagation is transplanting. Transplanting means moving a plant from one location to another, and it’s also the simplest method.

All you need is:

  • A shovel or spade
  • Soil conditioner

Here are the steps:

  1. Choose an area with full or partial sun exposure and well-drained soil
  2. Dig a hole twice the size of the current rootball or pot.
  3. Add soil conditioner to loosen up the soil, allowing for better root growth.
  4. Gently remove the plant from its current location without damaging the roots
  5. Place it in the new hole at the same depth as before and fill it with soil, ensuring no air pockets.
  6. Water thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure good root-to-soil contact.
  7. Add a layer of mulch around the plant to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Transplanting should ideally be done in early spring or fall. This is because the temperatures are mild during this time, and there is enough moisture for the plant to establish itself before facing extreme weather conditions.


How To Grow Mountain Mints?

Now that we’ve covered the different propagation methods let’s look at how to grow mountain mints successfully.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose an area with full or partial sun exposure.
  • Use well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.1-7.3.
  • Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Water regularly, especially during hot and dry weather conditions.
  • Fertilize sparingly, as mountain mint doesn’t require heavy feeding.
  • Prune regularly to encourage bushier growth and remove any damaged or dead leaves.
  • Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and treat them promptly to prevent spread.

Common Diseases That Affect Mountain Mint

Of course, before you embark on growing mountain mint, it’s essential to know about the common diseases that affect them so you can take preventative measures.

Some of the most common diseases that affect mountain mint include:

  • Leaf spot
  • Powdery mildew
  • Rust

To prevent these diseases, regularly inspect your plants and remove any affected leaves promptly. Also, avoid overcrowding and provide adequate air circulation to prevent humidity buildup, which can lead to disease.

In addition, avoid overwatering and make sure the soil is well-drained to prevent root rot. If necessary, you can also use organic fungicides or neem oil as a preventative measure.

Tips for Healthy Growth and Care of Mountain Mint

With the insights we’ve provided so far, you should be well-equipped to get started on your mountain mint planting project.

But to ensure healthy growth and care for your mountain mint, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose varieties suited for your climate and soil type.
  • Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Deadhead flowers should be used regularly to prevent self-seeding and promote continuous blooming.
  • Divide plants every 2-3 years to prevent overcrowding and encourage new growth.
  • Trim back plants in late fall to promote vigorous growth in the spring.
  • Harvest leaves and flowers regularly for culinary or medicinal use, as this will also encourage new growth.

By following these tips and techniques, you can successfully propagate and grow mountain mint in your garden with ease.

Whether you choose to start from seeds, cuttings, division, or transplanting, with proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy this beautiful and beneficial perennial herb in your garden for years to come.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.