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Click for previous Image Image 1 of 3 Monardella villosa ssp. villosa Coyote mint
Coyote mint (Monardella villosa) flower

Coyote mint (Monardella villosa) flower

Monardella villosa ssp. villosa

Coyote mint

This California native is a compact evergreen subshrub that grows 12' tall and 12-15" wide.  It has soft grey-green foliage with a wonderful minty aroma. Showy heads of lavender-pink to purple flowers bloom from late spring to early summer.

There are several species of Monardella that are native to California.  Monardella villosa - coyote mint - is probably the one most commonly found in nurseries selling native plants.  All the monardellas have refreshingly aromatic foliage, are relatively low-growing and are excellent providers of pollen and nectar for a wide variety of pollinators and beneficial insects.

Natural habitat and range
Coyote mint is native to California where it's found in many plant communities below 4,000 feet from Humboldt County south to Santa Barbara County and in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  It's often seen growing with buckwheats (Eriogonum species),  woolly yarrow (Eriophyllum lanatum) and silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons).


Growth habit and flowers
Coyote mint is a long-lived evergreen perennial or, more correctly, a subshrub.  A subshrub is a herbaceous plant that develops a woody base.  In the garden, coyote mint typically grows to around 12-15" tall and 15-18" wide.  Occasionally, it can reach 2' tall.  It forms a loose mound of highly aromatic minty leaves that are slightly oval in shape and a soft gray-green in color.

It produces dense heads of showy lavender-pink flowers that put on a colorful show from late spring through mid-summer.  On the coast, plants will often continue blooming, though less heavily, all summer long.

Exposure
On the coast, coyote mint can be grown in full sun where it can look good year round.  It's also very happy in light shade.  Inland, in hotter areas, it can look a little ragged in the dry summer and fall months.  Therefore, it tends to look better when planted in a spot that doesn't receive full-on afternoon sun in the summer.  Drought-stressed plants, both on the coast and inland, will lose many of their leaves.  However, they will start to leaf out again fairly quickly in response to cooler temperatures and rain.

Soil
Coyote mint's not particularly fussy about soil type, but it does need good drainage.  If you're gardening in an area with heavy clay, then coyote mint will be fine if the ground slopes and water doesn't collect around the roots.  On level ground, you may want to consider creating planting mounds.

Watering
Once established, plants will survive with no summer water.  They will, however, start to look a little straggly by the end of summer as they lose many of their leaves in response to droughty conditions.  An occasional deep watering, if possible, will keep plants looking greener and encourage a longer blooming season.

Remember that infrequent deep waterings encourage plant roots to go deeper in search of water.  This helps make them more drought tolerant.  Frequent shallow watering just encourages roots to stay in the top few inches of soil and plants will be much less able to survive periods of drought.

Wildlife Interest
Coyote mint is a good source of both pollen and nectar for native bees and bumblebees.  It is also a nectar source for hummingbirds and butterflies.  Butterflies seen on coyote mint include monarch, chalcedon checkerspot, ruddy copper, rural skipper, pale swallowtail and Western tiger swallowtail (source Calflora.org) 



Coyote mint Growing and Maintenance Tips

During the blooming season, deadheading (cutting off flowers that have finished blooming) encourages plants to produce more flowers and bloom for longer.  Don't deadhead though if you're wanting to collect seed from your plants or if you're wanting to leave the seed on the plants as a food source for seed-eating birds.

Every year, cut plants back by about 1/3rd of their height in the fall or winter.  This encourages them to stay full and dense.  If you don't do this, plants tend to become sprawling and straggly after a couple of years.


Height:

12 in

Spread:

15-18 in

Spacing:

18-24 in

Monardella villosa ssp. villosa Characteristics

Attributes

  • Salt Tolerant
  • Aromatic foliage
  • California native
  • Wind resistant
  • Evergreen

Flower color

  • Blue / Purple / Lavender / Violet

Foliage color

  • Green / Blue-green

Growth habit (plant shape)

  • Mounding

Exposure

  • Sunny all day - Coast
  • Morning sun
  • Light or dappled shade

Season of interest (flowering)

  • Spring
  • Summer

Season of interest (foliage)

  • Winter
  • Summer
  • Spring
  • Fall

Your soil type

  • Sand
  • Clay

Water requirements

  • None - Low
  • None

Critter resistance

  • Deer resistant
  • Rabbit resistant

Wildlife appeal

  • Attracts bees
  • Attracts hummingbirds
  • Attracts beneficial insects
  • Attracts butterflies
  • Attracts birds

Suggested uses

  • Under CA native oaks
  • Rock garden

Origin

  • California

Plants that work well with Monardella villosa ssp. villosa

California goldenrod California goldenrod (Solidago velutina ssp. californica)
Pacific aster Pacific aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)
California fescue California fescue (Festuca californica)
Douglas' iris Douglas' iris (Iris douglasiana)
Emerald Carpet manzanita Emerald Carpet manzanita (Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet')
San Bruno Mountain golden aster San Bruno Mountain golden aster (Heterotheca sessiliflora ssp. bolanderi 'San Bruno Mountain')
Valley Violet ceanothus Valley Violet ceanothus (Ceanothus maritimus 'Valley Violet')
Blue fortune mint Blue fortune mint (Agastache 'Blue Fortune')
Silver Carpet California aster Silver Carpet California aster (Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet')
Yarrow, Island Pink Yarrow, Island Pink (Achillea millefolium 'Island Pink')
Sticky monkey flower Sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
Slender cinquefoil Slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. fastigiata)
Hearst ceanothus Hearst ceanothus (Ceanothus hearstiorum)
Pacific ninebark Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
Siskiyou woolly sunflower Siskiyou woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum 'Siskiyou')