Also called Spotted Horsemint or simply Horsemint, this plant is a member of the mint family and is an herbaceous perennial native to North America.
It is a personal favorite for the native garden as it is so easy to grow, looks beautiful in a mass planting, and once it blooms, it is covered with pollinators including a number of bee species, wasps, and butterflies. It tolerates full sun and part-shade; it is drought tolerant, and will be happy in dry, sandy soil.
Spotted Horsemint blooms from August through October and has beautiful whorls wrapped around the stems in colors ranging from purple to deep pink to mauve. The leaves and stems are very fragrant and high in thymol which has antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. Historically, it has been used to treat ringworm and hookworm infections. In addition, the leaves can be brewed into a mild tea said to promote relaxation. However, please be sure that your plants have not been treated with any pesticides or herbicides before you decide to do this.
It grows in clumps and can rapidly expand from a seedling to a 2’ diameter mass of plants 3 to 4 feet in height. It will tend to crowd out other plant species over time and fill in any empty spots in your garden. However, it can be easily controlled by cutting back after it is finished blooming or pulling it from areas where you don’t want it to grow. It is deciduous in North Florida and will die back to the ground in the winter. It easily comes back in the spring and grows quickly. It is extremely easy to propagate –just shake the dried flowerheads to release the seeds or it will easily reseed on its own.
Because it is such a tremendous pollinator attractor, it is excellent for birds as well, including thrushes, wrens, nuthatches, waxwings, wood warblers, woodpeckers, and orioles.