Mountain Mints are some of the best plants you can grow for attracting pollinators to your yard. Hairy Mountain Mint is one of the more showy species you can add, that likes full sun but a bit of protection from hot afternoon sun. Easy to divide and relatively disease free, I can share all I’ve learned about this awesome plant with you.
In this article:
- What is Hairy Mountain Mint
- What are the benefits of Hairy Mountain Mint
- How to grow and care for Hairy Mountain Mint
- Identification / Characteristics
- What Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases effect Hairy Mountain Mint
- Where to buy Hairy Mountain Mint
- Uses of Hairy Mountain Mint
- Final thoughts
What is Hairy Mountain Mint
Hairy Mountain Mint is a herbaceous perennial flower native to North America. Scientifically known as Pycnanthemum pilosum, it grows 2-4’ tall in full sun and well draining soil. Blooming small clusters of white flowers for four weeks in Summer, it attracts a wide variety of pollinators. 
The Botanical, or Latin name of Hairy Mountain Mint can be a bit confusing, as there are two synonyms that are used. Historically, the Botanical name of Hairy Mountain Mint was Pycnanthemum pilosum, but now is recognized as Pycnanthemum verticillatum (Michx.) Pers. var. pilosum. 
Native Range of Hairy Mountain Mint
The primary native range of Hairy Mountain Mint is the American Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic, and parts of New England. It also crosses into Southern Ontario and Quebec.
Hairy Mountain Mint Reference Table
|Pycnanthemum pilosum, Pycnanthemum verticillatum (Michx.) Pers. var. pilosum
|Hairy Mountain Mint, Mountainmint, American Mountain Mint, Whorled Mountain Mint, Whorled mountainmint
|Native Range, USDA Zone
|Eastern United States, USDA hardiness zone 4-8
|Bloom Duration, Color
|White, four weeks
|2-4′ (60-120 cm)
|Spacing / Spread
|1-3′ (30-90 cm)
|Full sun to partial shade
|Sandy loam to clay loam, rocky
|Moist to slightly dry
|Fauna Associations / Larval Hosts
|Numerous bees, pollinating flies, butterflies.
What are the Benefits of Hairy Mountain Mint
Hairy Mountain Mint is one of the showier mountain mints, producing lots of attractive flowers. It’s white color make it so it can blend with almost any other plant. The light green foliage looks great until fall as well.
Like all Mountain Mints, Hairy Mountain Mint does an amazing job of attracting numerous species of pollinators. It is busy from sunrise to sunset with some of the coolest species of wasp, pollinating fly, and bee that you don’t see at too many other flowers.
Hairy Mountain Mint does great in a variety of conditions, from moist soil to slightly dry soil, and full sun to partial shade. It is very easy to find a suitable location.
Grow and Care for Hairy Mountain Mint
Hairy Mountain Mint will grow best and produce the most flowers in full sun, which is at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. It can tolerate partial shade, which is at least four hours of sunlight per day, however it will not be as tall, nor as showy. 
Extreme heat though can be damaging/stressful to the plant. You can overcome this with supplemental water, giving it afternoon shade, or planting it in an area that doesn’t completely dry out.
Also, if it receives irregular sunlight (from only one direction) it may lean/reach for the sun, and be more prone to flopping. You can control this by staking, the Chelsea chop, or by placing it where it can receive sun from both the east and west.
For soil types Hairy Mountain Mint can tolerate a wide variety – anything from sandy loam to clay, or even rocky soil. The primary factor is that the soil can drain.
For moisture, Hairy Mountain Mint can grow well in moist to slightly dry moisture conditions. But the soil should drain well. If you are unsure how your soil drains, you can read our guide to test it here. 
When it comes to maintenance associated with Hairy Mountain Mint, the primary activity for most people will be to use a shovel to prune the roots each Spring. It is a clump forming perennial that spreads via underground rhizome roots. This isn’t a huge problem, but it is a necessary chore.
Every Spring, just plant on going around the plant with a spade. Simply chop and remove the portions of the plant you don’t want. For specimens grown in the open, this is very easy. But failing to do this can result in the plant running a bit wild, with rhizomes weaving amongst other plants. But do not be afraid – this isn’t *that* large of a chore.
Hairy Mountain Mint does not require supplemental fertilizer. Fertilizing it may induce flopping.
How to Grow Hairy Mountain Mint from Seed
Hairy Mountain Mint is very easy to grow from seed. The only special requirement is that it needs exposure to sunlight to germinate.
- Fill a suitable container with moist potting soil. Tamp it firm. It should be moist enough that when you squeeze a handful, a few drops of water fall out.
- Sprinkle 5-10 Hairy Mountain Mint seeds on top of the soil. Use your thumb to press them in, taking care not to cover them.
- Place the container in a location that receives morning sun, and afternoon shade.
- Water by misting the soil, Use a hand spray bottle or pump sprayer to ensure you don’t wash away or cover the seed.
- Germination should occur within two weeks.
- Once the first set of true leaves are grown, thin or separate seedlings. This is important to ensure the seedlings grow large.
- One the plant has several sets of true leaves, you can transplant it to it’s final location.
I need to stress that it is very important to place the container in a location that gets morning sun, and afternoon shade. The hot afternoon sun can easily dry out the pot/seeds, rendering your efforts futile. Also, by watering in the morning, you are helping to ensure that the soil surface won’t be excessively moist. Excessively moist conditions can lead to damp-off disease, which kills many seedlings.
If grown from seed, you should not expect any blooms until year two. At which point the plant can be considered established, and as long as it’s not in a drought prone area it should require no special care.
Propagating Hairy Mountain Mint via division
One of the easiest ways to propagate Hairy Mountain Mint is by dividing it. In early Spring, just as plants begin to emerge, simply use a spade or trowel to dig up a portion of Hairy Mountain Mint with it’s shallow roots. Then, place it into a large pot with moist potting soil, or replant immediately in it’s final location. Ensure it stays moist for a week or two.
It is important that you do this operation in Spring. Dividing plants that are taller or blooming is quite risky, as most of their energy is going to producing blooms or seed. When you divide a plant at this stage, the transplant shock is immense. Whereas in early Spring, before there is any heat demands the plant has a chance to regrow/reattach roots to soil, allowing it to grow to a size that matches the roots.
Identification and Characteristics of Hairy Mountain Mint
The stem of Hairy Mountain Mint is square or 4-angled (like all members of the mint family), light green in color, and will have frequent branching. 
If you so much as brush against this plant you will smell the minty aroma.
Flowers occur in dense cluster flowerheads that are approximately 1” diameter. Individual flowers are about ¼” (6mm) diameter, with two lips and tubular structure. They are erect and stand tall when grown in the open.
Blooming begins in mid-Summer, and lasts for roughly four weeks. By early Fall seed heads will have formed. Each tube will contain several seeds.
How to save seed
Approximately two months after blooming, once the seed heads appear dry, you can harvest seed.
To save seed from Hairy Mountain Mint, cut the seed heads off and place them into a paper bag or container, taking care not to tip them upside down until safely inside the bag or container. Leave them in a cool dry place for another week, then place them into a closeable container, like a coffee can or plastic jug with a wide top. Shake the container vigorously for a minute or two, and dump the contents on to a paper plate.
Using a fine kitchen strainer and second plate, sift the contents to remove chaff. You can store seed in a zip lock bag for a couple years, out of sunlight, in a cool dry place.
The roots of Hairy Mountain Mint are fibrous and rhizomatous. The rhizomes will spread this plant.
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases associated with Hairy Mountain Mint
The blooms of Hairy Mountain Mint produce very high amounts of sugar within the nectar. This is probably one of the primary reasons for it’s attractiveness to so many pollinators.
Hairy Mountain Mint is one of the best attractors of pollinators you can grow. Charles Robertson in his amazing 1929 study documented over 100 different pollinator species visiting. This includes 17 species of long-tongue bees, 16 species of short tongue bees, numerous members of the Hymenoptera and Diptera genus, as well as a some butterflies.
Additionally there are a large number of insects that will feed on foliage and flowers.
Deer and Rabbits
Hairy Mountain Mint is one of those rare native species that is truly deer and rabbit resistant. The strong scented foliage mean that they will not bother this plant at all. You do not need to protect them in any way.
The foliage of Hairy Mountain Mint can sometimes become infected with rust. This primarily occurs when stressed from heat, or from being transplanted/divided. The condition generally clears up on it’s own.
Where you can buy Hairy Mountain Mint
Hairy Mountain Mint is not typically sold in nurseries, as it isn’t a typical ‘garden friendly’ plant. But it can be purchased at specialty nurseries that deal in Native Plants. You can find native plant nurseries near you on our interactive map.
Where to buy seeds
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Uses of Hairy Mountain Mint
Hairy Mountain Mint can be used in formal flower beds assuming it has some space, and gets a yearly ‘pruning’ of the roots. You can also plant it inside of a pot lined with landscape fabric, although it still may need supplemental water due to reduced spread of the roots.
But it is also a good choice for a border garden, wildflower meadow, or a micro-prairie. It will spread, and you can reduce it each year by simply pulling unwanted plants. It jumps up early, so is very easy to spot.
Some plants that would grow well in similar conditions as Hairy Mountian Mint would include:
- Blue Lobelia
- Rudbeckia fulgida
- Monarda didyma
- Echinacea purpurea
- Liatris Spicata
- New York Ironweed
- New England Aster
The leaves of this plant can be boiled to make a tea, and dried foliage can make for a nice smelling potpourri.  It has been used as a diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic, stimulant, carminative, and as a tonic. It was used in warm infusions to treat fever, coughs, colds, at a variety of other ailments.
Hairy Mountain Mint is one of those rare flowers that is truly a pollinator magnet. All mountain mints generally meet this category. But one can make an argument that this one looks a bit nicer in terms of foliage and flowers.
If gardening for wildlife is one of your goals, or you are looking for a plant that can attract some beneficial insects, Hairy Mountain Mint should be on your list of plants to grow.
 – Pycnanthemum verticillatum (Michx.) Pers. var. pilosum (Nutt.) Cooperr., USDA NRCS. Accessed 28MAY2023
 – Clemants, Steven Earl, Wildflowers in the field and forest : a field guide to the northeastern United States, New York : Oxford University Press, 2006, pp448
 – King, John, The American eclectic dispensatory, Cincinnati : Moore, Wilstach, & Keys, 1854, pp1404.
 – Michigan botanist, Ann Arbor : Michigan Botanical Club, 1984, pp190
 – Pennacchio, Marcello, Lara V. Jefferson, and Kayri Havens. “Smoke: promoting germination of tallgrass prairie species.” Chicago Wilderness Journal: Best Practices in Conservation and Restoration 3.3 (2005): 14-19.
 – Wykes, G. R. “The sugar content of nectars.” Biochemical Journal 53.2 (1953): 294.
 – Robertson, Charles. “Flowers and insects; lists of visitors of four hundred and fifty-three flowers.” (1928).
 – Gibson, Daniel R., et al. “Screening drought-tolerant native plants for attractiveness to arthropod natural enemies in the US Great Lakes Region.” Environmental entomology 48.6 (2019): 1469-1480.
 – Duke, James A., Handbook of medicinal mints (aromathematics) : phytochemicals and biological activities, Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press, 2001, pp465
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