Grow Lesser Calamint, the Perennial Plant of the Year

The 2021 Perennial Plant of the Year is a perfect pick for pollinators. Lesser calamint supports bees and butterflies from early summer until frost.

Lesser CalamintVia American Meadows
Lesser calamint in bloom

The Perennial Plant Association has selected lesser calamint as the 2021 plant of the year. This sun-loving, low-growing, bushy perennial features long-lasting blooms that benefit pollinators.

Lesser calamint, Calamintha nepeta subsp. Nepeta, is a member of the mint family, but it spreads less aggressively. Grow it in zones 4 to 7. It makes a great companion plant for an herb garden. This perennial grows wonderfully in containers and looks pretty cascading over retaining walls.

“Like a cloud of confetti, tiny white flowers, sometimes touched with pale blue, appear on calamint branches from early summer to fall,” says Martha SmithUniversity of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

Perennial Plant Association members have voted for a standout perennial to showcase annually since 1990. The association picks perennial plants that are low maintenance with multiple-season interest and suitable for a range of growing climates.

Psst—here’s the difference between annuals and perennials.

“(Lesser calamint) is low maintenance, undemanding, and dependable and is the perfect companion for other summer bloomers and foliage,” Smith says.

With blooms from early summer until frost, lesser calamint supports bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while its aromatic foliage is deer resistant.

Check out more long-blooming flowers for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Lesser calamint prefers full sun and will tolerate partial afternoon shade. It does best in soils with good drainage. Once established, it can be drought tolerant. Plants grow up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide and work well as an edge planting. It is easy to start from seed and may spread in the garden by rhizomes or self-seed. Stems touching the ground may root at the nodes. To prevent unwanted self-seeding, shear or cut back plants after flowering.

Previous plants of the year include Anemone xhybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ and Phlox paniculata ‘David.’

Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori is certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener and is also a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.