Thomas G. Barnes, Ph.D. is an extension professor/wildlife specialist for the Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky. Check out his latest books, The Rare Wildflowers of Kentucky and the newly released The Gift of Creation Images from Scripture and Earth at your local bookstore.
 

 
 

Hairy Wood Mint
by Thomas G. Barnes - posted 07/05/13



Hairy wood mint (Blephilia hirsuta) is a wonderful native plant that can be grown in a rock garden or in light dappled shade at the edge of the woodland garden. Like most mints, it is fragrant, and the small, tubular flowers are dotted with purple at the edge of the lip. It has unusually hairy stems, opposite leaves and whorls of small flowers. It is closely related to the downy wood mint (Blephilia ciliata), a more forested species — but the two are easy to tell apart, because the hairy wood mint is really hairy, versus slightly hairy, and the leaves of hairy wood mint have short stems or petioles. Its primary pollinators are bees — honeybees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, miner bees and cuckoo bees. The genus Blephilia is Greek for eyelash, which refers to the hairy fringes on the flower bracts. This species is fairly resistant to deer browsing, but it is susceptible to powdery mildew and insects.

 

Common Name: Hairy wood mint

Botanical Name: Blephilia hirsuta

Color: Mauve to lavender and white flowers

Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer

Type: Perennial wildflower

Size: Can grow to be 12 to 18 inches tall

Zone: 4–9

Exposure: Sun

Soil: Well-drained, neutral soil

Watering: Water frequently until well established.

When to Plant: Early spring

When to Fertilize: None required

In Your Landscape: Since it does not spread, you will need to plant in a cluster or drift for maximum appeal.

 

From Kentucky Gardener Volume X Issue VI. Photos Photos courtesy of Thomas G. Barnes.

 

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COMMENTS

John Packard (Lake Geneva, WI.) - 07/17/2013

I have only ever seen this genus in the woodland,the kissing cousin Downy Wood Mint and would be intrigued to observe how it performs in a landscape setting. 

What would be good companion plants? How bad is the powdery mildew problem? How long does it bloom?  Can it be dead-headed to force re-blooming?

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