Pycnanthemum (Mountain Mint), for Garden Beauty and Pollinators!
Planted last fall in an unpromising location--underneath a mature silver maple with a high-pruned canopy--Pycnanthemum muticum has become one of my star performers this summer. My little starts grew into pleasant but unremarkable, tidy clumps of green until mid-late July. At that time, the plants suddenly grew extraordinary, frosty silver-white bracts on the top third of the clumps and morphed into swans.
Since forming bracts, they have been producing tiny flowers. The actual flowers would definitely be overshadowed by the showy bracts were it not for the multitudes of pollinators who swarm to enjoy the nectar. In fact, P. muticum is tied as one of my absolute best pollinator plants of 2013 along with Calamintha nepeta, Monarda punctata, Agastache 'Blue Blazes' and Patrinia scabiosifolia.
To top it off, the pycnanthemum, much like the other plants listed above (except patrinia), has a wonderful foliage smell, like spicy mint and oregano combined. The fragrance is released by brushing up against the plants and by the heat of the sun. And, last but not least, it is *immune to rabbit damage*. I suspect deer wouldn't touch it either, but since there are none in my area I can't comment.
Although this plant is called "mountain mint," it is a North American native which is neither a mint nor does it grow on mountains. So far, my plants have not shown any inclination to spread from runners underground.
Does anyone else grow this or other species of pycnanthemum? I am thinking of adding more to my garden and would like to hear from anyone growing these.