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Lesser calamint

A bed of lesser calamint in full flower.

A low-growing garden plant, lesser calamint is a tough, drought tolerant plant that blooms most of the summer with a cloud of white to lavendar flowers over mats of gray-green foliage.  These plants make great fillers.  They also attract a large number of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.  Calamints are cousins to the herbal mints and are very fragrant but do not spread as aggressively.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name:

Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta

All common names:

Lesser calamint, savory calamint, calamintha

Family (English):

Mint

Family (Botanic):

Lamiaceae

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Tolerances:

  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size

Lesser calamint is 9 to 15 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.  The plant spreads by rhizome and will form a thick mat over time.

Plant Care

The plants are relatively low maintenance.   They prefer full to part sun and well-drained soil.
Plant in  well drained soil.
Cut plants back after flowering if overgrown.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems.  Occasional powdery mildew.  The straight species (Calamintha nepeta) reseeds aggressively, so be sure to get one of the sterile cultivars.  These plants do not do well in hot, moist environments.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

The strong scent when crushed makes it resistant to deer and rabbits.

Native geographic location and habitat

Southern Europe and Great Britain

Attracts birds or pollinators

The multitudes of flowers are very attractive to bees to the extent that they should not be planted near walkways if bees are a problem.  Butterflies and hummingbirds also appreciate the flowers.

Leaf description

The egg-shaped leaves are small, gray-green and form mats about one foot high.

Flower description

Delicate pale lavender to white tubular flowers bloom all over the plant.

Fruit description

Small rounded pods containing multiple light brown seeds.  Lesser calamint is easily grown from seed.

Cultivars and their differences

Montrose White Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta 'Montrose White'):  A tidy, clumping version with white flowers, this lesser calamint is sterile and grows to about one foot tall.

White Cloud Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta 'White Cloud'):  The bright white flowers of this cultivar are larger and showier than the species.

 

Location of Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta (Lesser calamint) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.