Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta

Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta

At last, we found an image that displays Lesser Calamint,Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta , in a flattering light. Perhaps that’s why more people don’t grow it: it doesn’t always photograph well, and it’s not in bloom when everyone is plant shopping in April and May. It has been one of our “go to” plants when designing sunny gardens for years. Here’s why.

Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta has grown well in our garden for the past 18 years. Yes, the same specimens, planted in 1995, return each year true to form. In spring they present as tidy little subshrubs (no, it does not spread by runners) with mint scented, slightly shiny leaves.  In July (June in warmer zones) sturdy 18″ stems bearing racemes of airy blue tinted white flowers appear, creating a cloud like effect for the front of the border and accenting any plant around it, and it is especially complimentary to roses. The blossoming continues into October, when the flowers take on blue tones with cooler temperatures.  Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta is a primo plant for attracting bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. This form of Lesser Calamint has rarely self sown in our gardens, unlike the very similar  Calamintha nepeta ‘White Cloud’, which seems to happily self sow. You might like having babies, or not. You decide.

As mentioned before, this is a reliable perennial (18 years and still going strong) for us here in southern New England. Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta performs well whether we  are having a hot dry summer or a cool moist one. It likes a soil that is well drained, but does not need or want lots of fertilizer. I know it will be this reliable in zones 5-7, but would be interested in hearing if folks are growing it successfully in zones 8 and 9.  Its tidy form and endless flowering means it can be combined with so many other plants, depending on your color scheme, but consider using it with Asclepias tuberosa, Sedum ‘Maestro’, Echinacea ‘Fatal Attraction’ or Caryopteris for strong summer interest.

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4 thoughts on “Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta”

  1. I’ve had Calamintha nepeta ssp nepeta nearly as long and can vouch for all these qualities: never needs dividing or fertilizing, not self-seeding, preferring sunny, decently drained sites, but holding its own in “lesser sites”. I’ve tried! Yes, it is a prim and quiet presence until mid-July when its 3.5 month bee laden bloom starts here in western VT. I try to plant it near walkways and corners to encourage “brushing by” releasing the “calaminty” scent! It is a must have plant for sunny sites.

  2. Hi Katherine,
    I had this terrific plant in one of my perennial borders (zone 4b). Loved it. Then one year it produced a zillion seeds and the ground all around was carpeted with seedlings. I can’t remember if the plant died or I pulled it out for behaving like a self sowing annual rather than a well behaved perennial. Have you ever had Calamintha self-sow?

  3. I, too, love my Calamintha. Same three plants for at least 10-12 years, happy no matter what the season throws at them. Vole resistant! Deer resistant! What huge selling points! No self-seeding, no unpleasant spreading, and this lazy gardener hasn’t even had to divide them.

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