pre-Fall '07 MTPS - anyone want some [insert plant name here]?

hermitonthehill(7a/b)June 11, 2007

I know this is "premature", but in preparation for the Fall swap and WHILE I am actually taking out/up some plants or otherwise thinking ahead, I wanted to find out if anyone would be interested in some Wild Virginia Mountain Mint? This is a wild but true mint that I collected while hiking up in the mountains years ago, and have brought with me through gosh... I guess close to a half-dozen moves/relocations. If anyone is interested in acquiring some, I'd like to go ahead and pot up what I am removing from various areas, so that it has time to establish or re-establish a good new root system in containment for easy transplanting later by whomever gets some.

I titled this post as I did because I figure there's going to be other things between now and then that I will want to pre-list and sort out how many or how much I should have in containers - rather than digging plants up at the last minute. And I thought others might do the same.

This mint is really, really nice crushed on ice and used in a variety of drinks that call for fresh mint - including iced tea. It's also good for poultices, mint tea (fresh or dried), etc on its own. It will grow "tall" or conform happily to being mowed and does equally well from full sun to full shade. It can be contained or allowed to naturalize or work its way through a lawn. It's great to walk on and is a good filler between stepping stones even while taking the "abuse" of heavy foot-traffic. The animals here (and those in the past) have enjoyed this mint immensely - from rolling in it to eating it when they had upset tummies, and I've used it in all-natural dog biscuits as well.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Why don't you post this on the Tennessee Gardening Exchanges page. I would really like to see that forum brought back to life. Who knows, there might even be someone that would see it there that wouldn't see it here.

So far as the Pycnanthemum rhizomes goes, what makes it special or what do you like most about it? Is it invasive like many mints? Does it come up from seed for you or mostly spread by rhizomes?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 7:45PM
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Thanks for the reminder brandon7... because I inevitably totally forget to hit the link to switch over to the "exchange" 'side' of this forum :/

To answer your questions - it has propagated readily for me both by seed (disregarding the self-sowing, I've collected seed from it and sown it in other areas/plots and in the past I've sent seed to friends) and 'runners'. I consider it "predictably invasive" - that is to say, it definitely seeks out "good spots" (rich soil and/or a consistent amount of moisture), but at the same time it doesn't "go crazy" like I've had other types of mint do. It keeps a pretty "tight" growth habit and if you let it do it's thing naturally, it gradually expands its base-site. I put some in here under an outside water faucet and to the east - transplanting plants and rhizomes in an area about 2ft x 14ft (give or take on the length) about 7.5-8 years ago. It backed off from the easterly direction with a preference to go westerly on me and a little bit north (both into "beds" that I was creating to elevate the ground level and re-direct water run-off from heavy rains). In the connecting bed to the north it has spread about three feet that direction, and to the west from the west-most original spot I planted it, it's spread maybe 10 feet or so. Until this year it remained actually with the confines of the "beds"/hadn't "jumped" the dead tree I used for a "border" on one side or the old/rotting landscaping timbers on the other sides. It's only been this year that it has a few runners outside of that area - so it's been an angel compared to other mints in respect to invasiveness in *my opinion*.

What do I like about it? Aside from sentimentality? :) It has an "unrefined" strong mint (mint, not peppermint) flavour - unlike many commercially cultivated mint-mints. "Unrefined" does not denote a negative in any sense - it's wonderful - in both scent and flavour. If I were to compare it and commercially cultivated mints to say... chicken (meat)... I would say that the flavour (difference) is like the difference between organic, free-range fed heritage breed chicken, and a hybridized for fast growth (despite genetic problems as a repercussion)chicken raised in a stuffy hot big commercial barn somewhere fed with non-organic processed feed and given hormones, steroids, and who knows what else to get them to grow faster and 'beef up' unnaturally.

There are some foods/dishes that mint jelly is "the" thing to serve with - and those dishes I didn't care for in the past - UNTIL I tried them with mint jelly made from this specific mint. It made all the difference in the world. I didn't realize until comparing, that there really is a difference between this 'wild' mint and that which is available from commercial sources - I assumed they were all the same.

I can't tell you what the menthol levels are in it - I don't have a lab nor the money to have it assessed against other cultivars (?).

It is prolific in leaf production with sturdy stems - all of the commercial mints I'd had before had rather "wimpy" stems by comparison. As I grow it, it is fairly dark green in colour - darker than even Chocolate Mint that I have grown in the past. If it's in full sun, it isn't as dark as part-shade colouration though. It is GREAT for making hard candy - an excellent sore throat-soother and has gone over better than peppermint with me and my kids at such times as needed for such - and tastier than horehound. Also very, very good for sorbet and due to the prolific leaf production, a small patch can yield more than enough for a household.

I've passed it along and used it myself also for working away at tree stumps - for those of us that have such and don't want to resort to a long-burning or don't want or can't afford to pay for "stump removal" - if given an indentation or a hole in a stump and this mint added and a bit of potting soil, the rhizomes work wonders naturally breaking down tree stumps naturally - working their way through the dead wood and hastening the process.

While I don't intentionally contain it *here*, I have at other places in the past and it takes very little to contain it... the deepest I ever put in any type of "edging" was six inches and never had rhizomes go under that and as little as 2 inches above soil level inhibited them "jumping" with normal trimming around the edging. If not maintaining the edge, then I'd recommend a bit higher above ground level. Clipping back any stems that fall over a barrier is recommended because it is more than capable of taking root from nodes that lay down on the ground.

And, like some other plants, the more you cut it - the thicker it gets.

I had a friend growing from this stock while she was living on the coast (Atlantic seaboard, not Pacific) and it handled that environment just fine as well - so it's probably sea-air/water tolerant. Pretty tenacious.

Geesh, I could probably dedicate a chapter in a book to this particular mint. :)

I will try to get all these tidbits "cleaned up" though and re-post to the EXCHANGE 'side' of this forum...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:02PM
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