Short-toothed mountain mint
Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Flowering period: July
Host plant for 5 caterpillar species
In the heat of summer, the silvery foliage of short-toothed mountain mint appears like a vision of winter frost. While the thought is briefly refreshing, the plant offers very real refreshment of a different kind to a multitude of pollinators. Short-toothed mountain mint’s small, purple-speckled flowers provide nectar to both long and short-tongued insects, including flies, wasps, beetles, moths, butterflies, and bees large and small. Indeed, there are few other plants that will attract as many visitors as this one. Many of these insects are predators of pests like aphids and stink bugs, and planting short toothed mountain mint is therefore recommended for promoting the health of one’s vegetable and / or flower garden.
The ornamental quality of short-toothed mountain mint’s whitish foliage is most accentuated when the plant is present as a large patch. Due to its clonal growth pattern, short-toothed mountain mint will naturally tend to form a colony that gets larger every year. The plant is not overly aggressive in the manner of exotic mints, however, and curtailing its spread is an easy matter. In the springtime, one should press a spade into the soil at the desired perimeter of the mint patch, severing the plant’s underground spreading stems or rhizomes. The seedlings that are outside of this perimeter should then be pulled by hand. This technique is called root pruning, and it is useful for containing the spread of many plants that grow in a clonal manner.
Reaching a height of approximately 3 feet, short toothed mountain mint has a handsome, upright form which is resistant to blow-down and flopping. As a native component of NE Ohio meadows and woodland edges, it grows well under both full sun and partial shade, and with the latter, it generally doesn’t lean towards the sun. Short toothed mountain mint prefers soils of moderate moisture but has fairly good drought tolerance and is reported to grow well on slopes. Blooming primarily during the month of July, the plant’s silvery foliage is a lovely counterpoint to the showy blooms of purple coneflower, gray-headed coneflower, swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, dense blazing star, and others.
Photo by rockerBOO.