Sometimes you just need a plant that’s easy to care for, isn’t picky about its environment, and is incredibly useful. If that sounds good, you should be growing calament.
It is drought resistant and grows in any soil. Calamint will flower even in partially shaded conditions as long as it is not damp or damp. It’s also tasty.
Calamine is used as an herbal tea, in recipes, and as a medicinal supplement. It is a member of the mint family and is as hardy and easy to propagate as any mint plant you have ever grown.
If you’ve never heard of calamit, or are wondering if it’s something you’d like to try, let’s take a look at this easy-to-grow plant that takes care of itself.
What is Calamenthe?
call (Calaminth spp.) is native to parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. Sometimes known as calamint, mountain mint, catnip or mountain balm, it was popular as early as the Roman Empire where it was a culinary and medicinal staple.
Mint can be used to make a refreshing tea or used in dishes to add flavor. It goes particularly well with tomato, mushroom or artichoke dishes.
Being a compact plant, calamintine is good for ground cover or as a low filler, although like mint it requires work to keep it from spreading or taking over an area.
If you want to attract bees and butterflies to your garden, calament works well because of the flowers’ strong smell and high pollen content. Although it does not have large flowers, the calamint makes up for it in volume. A patch of calamint growing in the garden looks like a sea of delicate lace.
Varieties of Mint to Plant
There are several species of calamint and other hybrid varieties, but the most common are:
Also known as calamint minor, this is probably the most common variety found in home gardens. The flowers are usually white, but sometimes also with purple streaks. The small calaminth has a strong and pleasant aroma and you can easily smell it wherever you plant it.
This is the perfect strain for making refreshing tea. It can also withstand higher temperatures than other varieties, so it is good for growing areas that get hot.
This strain has the strongest smell of any I have tried and is a perfect plant for an area of the garden where you sit in the evening as you can smell it all around you. The flowers are larger than other varieties and are sometimes called mint savory.
This variety is often called basil thyme and – surprise! – smells of thyme. The light purple or pink flowers are surrounded by fuzzy foliage.
Planting and Propagation of Calamint
You probably won’t see seedlings for sale unless you have access to a specialty retailer. You will therefore need to grow from seeds or cuttings from existing plants.
Consider growing callum in containers. Like mint, calamintine can spread and take over, so pots can contain the rhizomes. You will need to make sure to divide the root system before it gets too big for the container or the plant suffers.
Seeds should be sown indoors and stored at around 70°F. Sow in early spring in a good quality potting mix and keep it moist.
Sow about 1/4 inch deep and place in indirect sunlight. You should see germination in two weeks, followed by leafy growth.
You can transplant outdoors when the earliest frost has passed and the calamint is at least five inches tall. Try to wait until early summer if you can and make sure the root system is strong.
Take a healthy stem and cut a length of about four to six inches. Just plant it in potting soil or seed mix and keep it moist. New roots should form in about a month.
You can use a rooting hormone, but it’s usually not necessary.
The best time to split the calament is when it begins to thin out or go “bald” from the center. This means that now is the right time to refresh the plant.
Dig it all up and remove the soil around the roots. Cut off any damaged, dead or dying roots.
Divide the roots with a spade and replant the individual sections. Water well.
How to take care of Calamint
Grow calamint in USDA Growing Zones 5 through 9 and you should have no problem being blessed with a floral display of delicate blooms from early summer through late fall.
Although calamint does not like extreme temperatures, it will survive even if it drops below freezing.
Plant in full sun in most areas.
If you live in an area that gets sweltering during the summer, consider providing partial shade and more frequent watering. Or you can plant in a container and move the plant to a shady, cooler spot during hot spells.
A good amount of mulch can help keep roots cool and retain moisture.
Container planting is also a good idea when growing calamit to stop the spread of its roots. They make good border plants, but you will need to keep them pruned and control any unwanted spreading.
Water well all summer. Although calaminte is drought tolerant once established, it prefers moist soils. You can let the soil dry out between waterings, but when the first inch of topsoil becomes dry, water again.
The type of soil
Calamint is known to adapt to any type of soil. Clay, rocky, sandy, gravelly or loamy soil will do as long as it drains well but retains moisture. Like most plants, calamitous mint will suffer from root rot and other problems if planted in areas of standing water.
A pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is best, but as you might guess, calament will do well in any soil pH.
When you first plant calamit, dig in well-rotted manure or good quality compost. It just gives the plant a good head start. Space about 20 inches apart as the spread is usually about 18 inches apart. Most calamints reach between one and two feet.
Fertilization and pruning
Calamint does not need fertilizing unless your soil is in poor condition. If you suspect the plant is deficient or struggling, feed once in early spring with a balanced fertilizer and water well.
You don’t need to prune the calamintine, but if you want to control the spread, you must cut it. Do this before the flowers start to sprout in summer and fall. Some hybrid cultivars are actually sterile, so see what’s available in your area.
When cold weather arrives, the stems die. This is completely normal and new stems will grow the next year. Cut off any brown stems that remain on the plant in the spring.
Companion planting for Calamint
Try growing calabash next to plants that rely on pollinators, as it attracts handfuls of bees and butterflies. It also grows well with things that have similar requirements such as thyme and lavender.
Problems and solutions for growing Calamint
Fortunately, the pests and diseases that bother calamit are few. Even if they strike, they will rarely kill your plant. You also don’t have to worry about deer or rabbits eating your plants. Cultivating calamit is really an easy task, isn’t it?
This small pale flying insect can be very damaging. They are normally found on the underside of plants. They are sap suckers and despite their size, cause a lot of damage, especially if the plant is weak.
Remove weeds as they often attract whiteflies. Spray neem oil when pests are present and ensure the scale is as healthy as possible.
Powdery mildew is quite common on many plants.
Avoid this problem by watering at ground level rather than at foliage level. Make sure the calamint is properly spaced to allow air circulation. Read our article on powdery mildew to learn how to identify, treat and prevent it.
Sudden leaf fall
Calamint can lose its foliage suddenly and this is often due to soil disturbance. Be careful when digging around the plant and make sure that when you pull the weeds you don’t disturb the callus roots.
Harvesting and storing mint
Harvest from late spring to early fall, but try to pick before the flowers bloom. When you see the buds appear, it’s time to harvest the calament. The flavor is said to be most potent just before flowering.
Choose early in the morning for better behavior.
The best flavor for calamint is fresh. If you can pick the fresh leaves for most of the season, do so for as long as possible.
When you need to store excess, the best way to store calament is to dehydrate it. You may lose some flavor, but not too much like some other dried herbs.
Use a dehydrator for faster drying, or take long cuttings, tie them together, and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place in the house.
Store dried mint in an airtight container in a dark cupboard or pantry.
Use of Calament
Calamint makes a very refreshing tea. It is said to be beneficial for many ailments, from insomnia to gout and intestinal problems.
You can add it to food for more flavor. If you cook vegetables in olive oil, add a little fresh or dried calament. It goes very well with zucchini, artichokes or pumpkin. It is also suitable for meat stews and bean and mushroom dishes.
Sometimes you can find calament flavored southern Italian cheeses, so try adding some as a topping to whatever cheese you have on hand.
5 tips for growing healthy calamine
- Plant in full sun. Allow at least six to eight hours.
- Water well, keeping the soil moist. Water when the soil is an inch dry.
- Do not over-fertilize. You only need to fertilize once a year in early spring, if at all.
- Calamint is not difficult with the ground, so don’t waste time trying to make the ground perfect.
- Mulch calamin in hot, dry conditions.
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