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Gardeners & Homeowners

Garden Club of America names Mountain Mint 2018 Plant of the Year

Pycnanthemum muticum has been named 2018 Plant of the Year by The Garden Club of America (GCA). Annually since 1995, the GCA has identified a stellar North American native plant to receive its Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal for Plant of the Year. [NOTE: this plant is NOT vouchered as a Florida native plant, but a southeastern native ranging from Georgia north and westward.]

Commonly known as Mountain Mint, the plant is a native perennial that attracts a diverse abundance of bees, butterflies, moths and other beneficial insects as an excellent source of nectar. The easy-to-grow ornamental plant has noteworthy blue-green foliage, silvery bracts, aromatic leaves and pinkish to white flowers that bloom from July through September.

Mountain Mint can be grown in full sun or partial shade and in both drought and wet conditions. It naturalizes politely, producing an attractive upright tiered clump that is two to three feet high and wide. Mountain Mint grows in USDA zones 4 to 8, from Maine to Michigan and south to Florida and Texas. The plant helps with erosion control and is resistant to diseases, insect pests, deer, rabbits and rodents.

“Mountain Mint is a pollinator magnet,” says Lulu Lubbers of the GCA. “Not only is it a lovely addition to a garden, it’s a lively addition – there is such a buzz of activity, it’s like watching wildlife TV,” she says. The plant was nominated for the award by a member of the Garden Club of Madison in New Jersey.

NOTE: Pycnanthemum muticum is NOT a Florida native plant per the Florida Atlas, but at least seven species of Pycnanthemum are native to Florida. Someone should figure out whether they’re as horticulturally useful as their sibling.


The Freeman Medal was established to highlight underutilized, but highly worthy, native trees, shrubs, groundcovers, vines and perennials. “The goal is to draw attention to select native plants to encourage their use in the landscape and make them familiar to gardeners and more available in nurseries,” explains Lubbers. Annual selection is made by a group of nationally renowned horticulturists and experts in the nursery trade. Woody and herbaceous plants are nominated in alternate years. The 2018 winners were selected from 14 plants nominated by members of GCA clubs.

The medal honors Montine McDaniel Freeman (1915-98), member of the New Orleans Town Gardeners GCA club, and was established by her son and daughter-in-law. Freeman was an outstanding horticulturist particularly enamored of native plants. Her 93-acre Beechwood Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, boasted more than 4,000 azaleas, camellias and magnolia grandifloras.

The GCA, founded in 1913, is composed of 200 clubs with nearly 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement across the United States.