MOUNTAIN MINT (Pycnanthemum muticum) The name is misleading as this does not naturally occur in mountainous habitats. It thrives in much of the United States. And to add to the confusion, there many different forms. This is the one that grows in my yard, which I have always called Virginia Mountain Mint, but which may actually be an even rarer variety, the Short-Toothed or Clustered (muticum). Its compact, bushy form is easy to maintain in the herb garden since you can easily pull the lateral volunteers to use or to grow. Brews a delicious tea! Also great for jelly and other condiments. Attracts many pollinators in the garden. Perennial in zones 4-10. The seeds are agravatingly tiny but can be sown in warm environment. I also hope to offer fresh seedling starts from my garden in the Spring taken from the lateral shoots that always appear. 25 Seeds.
MEDICINAL: When well-dried and crushed, this mint has a camphor-like fragrance that is exceptional for opening the sinuses.
GROWING TIPS: Easily grown, though it does require cold stratification, so sow in fall or very early spring. Will thrive in most soils. Does not survive drought well, but if kept pinched back and watered, and is closely interplanted in your herb bed or mixed border you won't lose it. Otherwise, you can't get rid of it! Not quite as invasive as some mints, but healthy specimens will be quite productive.
DRYING FOR TEA AND OTHER USES: When we gather herbs for fresh use, we pick early in the morning, when still kissed by dew. But when we gather herbs for drying, we are going to wait until the sun has dried the dew, so that we do not get mildew forming when we dry. Gather small bunches of the healthiest plants and tie at the ends with string with a tail. Then hang in a protected environment. For me, it is from the shutters of my interior kitchen window over my sink. No sunlight at this window but plenty of fresh air as an overhead fan circulates during warmer months. This is ideal. Otherwise, special drying racks work well. The idea is to dry quickly, without sunlight, but plenty of air circulation to keep mildew from forming. Turn if necessary to make sure the bunch dries completely. When dry, crumple the leaves from the stems and store in airtight canisters.