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Featured Plant: Monardella odoratissima, Mountain Pennyroyal

You know what they say,

"A pennyroyal earned, is a pennyroyal saved!"

(Photos provided by Great Bear Native Plants, Map provided by USDA-NRCS)

Monardella odortissima, also known as mountain pennyroyal or coyote mint, is a native forb that grows in dry to moist montane forest openings and scrubland throughout western North America. In the United States, monardella can be found from northern Idaho to eastern Washington and south to New Mexico, Arizona and California. As the name implies, Mountain pennyroyal typically grows at higher elevations (up to 11,500 ft), but can be found growing at elevations as low as 3,500 ft.

Mountain pennyroyal is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint, plant family. As with other members of Lamiaceae, mountain pennyroyal plants produce a fragrant aroma that will attract bees, butterflies and even humans. Along with the pleasant smell, mountain pennyroyal has many of the other classic characteristics of a member of the mint family including paired, opposite leaves and stems that are square in cross-section. These plants also produce beautiful, puff ball-shaped blooms that are either white, pale pink or purplish-blue in color. Mountain pennyroyal flowering begins in late spring or early summer depending on elevation and blooming continues until late summer.

Mountain pennyroyal is easy to grow in a garden setting. These plants often grow into a dense tangle of flowering stalks and, because of this compact growth form, they make a great choice for rock gardens. Mountain pennyroyal can also be planted as a colorful, evergreen edge to a garden walkway or as a ground cover plant. Since this floriferous species is also a favorite of butterflies and native bees, it makes a great addition to pollinator gardens. While mountain pennyroyal will bring bees and butterflies to your garden, it is not a favorite of deer or rabbits and is therefore well-suited to gardens that are likely to receive pressure from local wildlife.

Planting Notes

  • Plant mountain pennyroyal in well-drained sandy to loamy soils.

  • Mountain pennyroyal prefers to grow in partial shade, but will grow well with full sun exposure given increased soil moisture.

  • Mountain pennyroyal is moderately drought tolerant. Be sure to water frequently when you first establish, and in subsequent years, provide supplemental water every 2 to 3 weeks.

  • In the summer, deadhead spent blooms if desired

  • In the fall cut back stalks as needed to prevent plants from getting leggy

Planting Buddies

For a banging pollinator garden consider planting mountain pennyroyal with:

  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

  • Little-flower penstemon (Penstemon procerus)

  • Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)

  • Wild Blue flax (Linum lewisii)

  • Field cerastium (Cerastium arvense)

  • Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)

  • Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)

  • Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)

  • Prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)


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