Content Detail

A low-growing garden plant, lesser calamint is a tough, drought tolerant plant that blooms most of the summer with a cloud of white to lavender flowers over mats of gray-green foliage. These plants make great fillers. They also attract a large number of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Calamints are cousins to the herbal mints and are very fragrant but do not spread as aggressively.

  • Family (English) Mint
  • Family (botanic) Lamiaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Moderate


Lesser calamint is 9 to 15 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.  The plant spreads by rhizome and will form a thick mat over time.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This perennial is native to southern Europe and Great Britain.

Attracts birds or pollinators:

The multitudes of flowers are very attractive to bees to the extent that they should not be planted near walkways if bees are a problem.  Butterflies and hummingbirds also appreciate the flowers.

Leaf description:

The egg-shaped leaves are small, gray-green and form mats about one foot high.

Flower description:

Delicate pale lavender to white tubular flowers bloom all over the plant.

Fruit description:

Small rounded pods containing multiple light brown seeds.  Lesser calamint is easily grown from seed.

Plant care:

The plants are relatively low maintenance. They prefer full to part sun and well-drained soil. Plant in  well drained soil. Cut plants back after flowering if overgrown. The straight species (Calamintha nepeta) reseeds aggressively, so be sure to get one of the sterile cultivars.  These plants do not do well in hot, moist environments. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This perennial has no serious problems, but occasional powdery mildew can affect it. The strong scent when crushed makes it resistant to deer and rabbits.

Montrose White Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta ‘Montrose White’): 

This cultivar is a tidy, clumping version with white flowers.  This lesser calamint is sterile and grows to about one foot tall.

White Cloud Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta ‘White Cloud’): 

The bright white flowers of this cultivar are larger and showier than the species.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift