Today is national Honey Bee Day!
Honey bees are not native to the America’s, but they provide a great resource to us; honey, propolis, beeswax, and royal jelly. They also help pollinate food and flowers!
In my garden, I don’t see honey bees too often. However, this is the first year I’ve had mountain mint in my yard. It is covered in honey bees (and tiny native bees)! So, if you want to specifically help out honey bees, plant plants in the mint family. I have also seen honey bees on some catmint in my garden too.
There are over 20 species of mountain mints in the Pycnanthemum genus that are native to the US. However, there are just a few you’ll likely find at a nursery that has native plants.
- Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)
- Short Toothed Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum)
- Hoary Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum)
- Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium)
Despite the name ‘Mountain’, they do like full to partial sun, and takes average well drained soils. I have it growing in an area with hard clay soil, and it’s doing very well. Being in the mint family, the leaves do have a nice minty aromatic scent when crushed.
It has clusters of flowers which bloom over a long period over the summer. In spring, the foliage is some of the first green you’ll see appear in the garden. While the flowers are not showy, the foliage is a show stopper with its silvery blue green color. Some of the species have small differences, so they can be difficult to identify.
The Virginia and Narrow Leaf Mountain Mints look similar with its finer foliage, and shorter habit. These two species look quite a bit different from the Short Toothed and Hoary Mountain Mints however. The Short Toothed and Hoary also look similar to one another.
Some of the mountain mints (from my experience the hoary and short-toothed do) like to form large clusters by rhizomes and will go as far as you let them. However, it’s easy to pull where you don’t want it. In a small garden, pull what you don’t want in the spring time.