With its sweet fragrance, sparkling flavor, and pretty flowers, mint makes a delightful addition to any garden.And its renowned taste and aroma are found in a myriad of products around the home from air fresheners to mouthwash.Bees and other pollinators flock to the enchanting spires and tufts of flowers that bloom in pastel shades of blue, mauve, pink, or white.This lush, rewarding herb can be successfully cultivated in containers and garden beds to stop it spreading – and you’ll love the fresh-flavored results!The genus contains approximately 20 species and numerous natural hybrids that occur in the overlap areas of different growing ranges.In their natural environment, plants thrive along marsh edges, in meadows, along stream banks, and woodland fringes – growing 12 to 36 inches tall at maturity.Most species are native to temperate regions of Africa, Asia, or Europe, with a few indigenous to Australia (M. australis), and North America (M. arvensis and M.
canadensis).The presence of pungent essential oils gives Mentha its attractive fragrance that fills the surrounding area with a sweet perfume.Plants are easily identified by their bright scent and refreshing taste, and by the square stems typical of Lamiaceae family members.Blooms appear from mid to late summer, and are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.Fast growing, plants send out runners (stolons) above and below ground to quickly establish large, lush colonies.According to an article by Monica H. Carlsen et al, published in the BMC Nutrition Journal, Mentha has a very high antioxidant capacity, and has long been recognized for its aromatic, medicinal, and therapeutic properties.The Roman historian Pliny the Elder reported many uses including scenting bathwater and perfumes as well as flavoring beverages, sauces, and wine.For centuries, all plant parts – flowers, leaves, roots, and stems – have been used in folk medicine to treat a number of health issues, including gastrointestinal distress and respiratory illnesses.Although mint grows wild in North America, root stock was introduced by English settlers, and by the 1790s crops for distillation of the essential oil were commercially grown in Massachusetts.Today, Mentha is an important commercial crop in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho with the oils used primarily to flavor candy, chewing gum, cough drops, mouthwash, and toothpaste.And, being an avid cross breeder, seeds produce variable results – often with different taste and appearance than that of the parent plants.Commercial growers propagate vegetatively, and root division or stem cuttings give the best results for home gardeners.Fill small 2- to 4-inch pots or trays with a soil mix of 1/3 well aged compost, 1/3 vermiculite or peat moss, and 1/3 landscape sand.Place stems in a small glass of water, and set in a light, airy windowsill until healthy roots have formed.Ensure pots have plenty of material covering the drainage holes such as coconut coir, pebbles, or broken pottery to prevent the roots from sitting in water.Consider burying some metal flashing or landscape edging 8 inches deep around the plant to prevent it from taking over.Mentha plants tolerate a light frost, but the top growth will eventually die back in winter.It is known to repel ants, cockroaches, deer, mice, spiders, and squirrels which makes it a useful companion plant for other crops.Grow mint in containers of rich, well-draining soil amended with 1/3 organic matter such as aged compost.Ensure pots have plenty of drainage material – such as broken pottery, gravel, or pebbles – at the bottom and keep soil moist but not wet.The spores overwinter in plant debris, so clean beds well in fall and remember to rotate crops.Mint rust is another fungus that causes small brown, orange, or yellow pustules on undersides of leaves.Powdery mildew is another fungus that can also show up in moist, damp conditions, coating leaves and stems in a fuzzy dusting that weakens and damages plants.Thin plants if needed to improve air circulation and don’t water until the top 1-inch of soil is dry.How and When to Harvest The quality of the volatile oils that give mint its characteristic flavor is best during the long days of summer when plants receive 14 hours of daylight or more.When leaves are dry and crumbly, in 1 to 2 weeks, strip them from the stem and store in airtight containers in a cool, dark cupboard.After the leaves are frozen, remove them from the baking sheet and place in airtight containers in the freezer where they will last up to 3 months.Fresh mint makes a lovely complement to fish, lamb, and poultry and can spruce up lightly steamed veggies like baby carrots, peas, and new potatoes.Allow a few pots to bloom and place throughout the garden – they’ll repel unfriendly pests and attract beneficial insects. .
10 Reasons to Grow Mint (Without Fear)
You’ll learn the benefits of each plant and how to maximize their herbal power in your kitchen!Even though mint is a highly beneficial plant, due to its spreading nature, many of us opt to just go without it all together.The truth of the matter is that mint is a plant, and while it can and will most definitely spread, it takes some time for this to happen.I would steer clear of planting mint in or anywhere near your regular garden beds, as it will eventually try to take over.It’s a great plant for a rocky herb garden, a neglected corner of your yard, or a high traffic area.Mint will spread from its underground roots, and can cover great distances and go under obstacles to get to where it wants to go, so keep that in mind when planting.Other hardy perennial herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme can usually tolerate the aggressive nature of mint, especially if they are already established.Or cut large bundles of mint and hang to dry for use in the winter months.If there is a shady area of your yard that you have trouble growing things in, try planting mint.Do it as a science experiment with your kids, or root a bunch of cuttings, pot them up, and give away to friends.Let your mint go to flower and it will attract bees, beneficial wasps, hoverflies (aphid eaters), and tachinid flies (parasitic on nasty bugs).The smell of the mint plant will also repel houseflies, cabbage moths, ants, aphids, squash bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, and even mice.It keeps bugs, flies, and parasites at bay, as well as being an antioxidant and digestive aid for your flock.Be sure to plant lots of mint (as well as other herbs) in and around the coop and run for chickens to nibble on daily.While cats and dogs probably shouldn’t eat a whole lot of mint in one sitting, a little bit is great for them.It is a natural flea repellent, and I often see Cosmo the kitty rubbing up against the mint plant.Cut it from the garden with abandon to make all kinds of delicious mint recipes.Peppermint is especially great for headaches, and the essential oil can be rubbed on the temples for relief.It can be helpful for seasonal allergies, and can also be added to body care products like salves and lip balms, soaps, shampoo bars, and lotions. .
How to Grow and Care for Mint
wide Sun Exposure Full, partial Soil Type Loamy, moist, well-drained Soil pH Acidic, neutral Bloom Time Summer Hardiness Zones 3–11, USA (depends on species) Native Area North America, Africa, Australia Toxicity Toxic to animals.Mint fares best in a damp, moist area with well-draining soil, but also in a spot that's in either full sun or part shade.Your primary maintenance task with mint might be to trim back your plant to prevent its runners from spreading to unwanted places.Mint plants prefer part shade, though they will grow in full sun if you water them frequently.Mint also can survive in fairly shady conditions, though it might be leggy and not produce as many or as flavorful of leaves.Maintaining lightly moist but not soggy soil is the ideal environment for mint.If you notice the foliage of your mint wilting, that's typically a sign the plant needs more moisture.Temperature tolerance depends on the species you are growing, but in general, mint plants are widely adaptable.Spearmint (Mentha spicata) handles the heat well and can grow in USDA hardiness zone 11.If you are growing your mint indoors, increase humidity by misting the plant between waterings or set the container on a water-filled tray of pebbles.Mentha x. piperita: Peppermint features a sweet, minty flavor and grows in USDA zones 3 to 11.Peppermint features a sweet, minty flavor and grows in USDA zones 3 to 11.Mentha × piperita f.
citrata 'Chocolate': Chocolate mint, a first cousin of peppermint and has leaves with a minty-chocolate flavor and aroma.Mentha spicata: Spearmint is excellent for flavoring teas and salads and is one of the better mints to use as a landscape ground cover.Spearmint is excellent for flavoring teas and salads and is one of the better mints to use as a landscape ground cover.You can start harvesting mint leaves once the plant has multiple stems that are six to eight inches long.Mature mint can be harvested in summer and fall before the shoots die back.Be mindful about where you place the container because long stems touching surrounding soil might take root.Place a double layer of landscaping cloth inside the pot over the drainage holes to prevent the roots from sneaking out of the container and into the surrounding soil.To relieve yourself of major pruning maintenance, grow your mint in a confined location, such as in a pot or between paved areas.Propagation is best done in the late spring to early summer when the plant is actively growing and before it has bloomed.Use sterilized scissors or pruning shears to cut a healthy piece of stem four to six inches long.It's important to note that some mint varieties are hybrids and will not grow true to seed.Once your container of mint becomes root-bound and you see roots popping up above the soil, it's often simplest to take a cutting and start a new plant rather than repotting.However, stressed plants can be bothered by common garden pests, including whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.Mint plants can sometimes contract rust, which appears as small orange spots on the undersides of leaves. .
How to Grow Mint Indoors: 3 Growing Methods for Year-round
Mint (Mentha species) is a perennial that produces new foliage all year long if the stems are not killed by frost, making it one of the easiest herbs to grow inside.Unlike many other herbs, mint is very easy to grow indoors, as long as you give the plant enough light and consistent moisture (more on both of these in a later section).I love mint’s crinkly green leaves and how the stems of some varieties tumble down over the sides of the pot.We grow them for their flavors, and what could be better than snipping your own fresh, homegrown mint leaves to make a cup of hot tea on a cold day?Since mint is constantly making new stems and leaves, you’ll always have a few sprigs ready for harvest.Whenever I need a little pick-me-up on a dreary day, I simply pinch off a leaf, rub it between my thumb and index finger, and inhale.Aside from the occasional fungus gnat, I’ve never had any houseplant pests attack my mint plants.For me, the easiest route is to purchase a starter plant at my favorite local nursery.However, if it’s autumn or winter and you’re just learning how to grow mint indoors, you might find your local nursery out of stock.If this is the case for you, consider starting a new mint houseplant from a root division or a stem cutting.Mint grows fast, so even if you start with a tiny division, before you know it, the plant will fill your pot.To maximize the growth of your indoor mint plant, you’ll need to provide it with a few things.If you don’t have a sunny, north-facing window that receives sun through the better part of the day, consider purchasing a small grow light to install over your mint plant.If you don’t have a sunny, north-facing window that receives sun through the better part of the day, consider purchasing a small grow light to install over your mint plant.Water the plant only when the soil feels dry to the touch and the pot is light.Unlike other houseplants, indoor mint will still be actively growing through the winter months, so feeding it is a good idea.Regular “haircuts” are necessary to keep your mint plant bushy and to encourage new growth.Use a pair of herb scissors or needle-nose pruners to trim the stems back on a regular basis, ideally once every few weeks.However, keeping a few water-rooted stems in a jar above the sink means you’ll be able to make the occasional harvest.They will quickly develop roots and can be grown in the water-filled jar for a few weeks or months, depending on the growing conditions.In fact, mint is a great crop to grow using a commercially made or a DIY hydroponic system.The lack of soil definitely translates to less mess, but hydroponic systems are more expensive than soil-based growing.To harvest your indoor mint plants, remove individual leaves as needed, or clip off entire stems for drying or fresh use.Don’t be afraid to cut the plant back substantially a few times a year. .
How to grow Mint / RHS Gardening
Avoid growing different varieties of mint close together, whether in pots or the ground, as they can lose their individual scent and flavour.When growing in pots, rejuvenate congested clumps by upturning the container, removing the rootball and splitting it in half.There is a huge range of flavours to choose from, so it’s great to buy in person, so you can select your favourite aromas.Mint leaves can be harvested from late spring and mid-autumn, before the shoots die back over winter.Pick regularly to keep plants compact and ensure they produce lots of fresh new growth.A strong growing, erect, traditional cottage garden mint with a milder fruity flavour.A common fungal disease of many plants that can be recognised by orange, yellow or black spots or blisters that form on leaves, along with pale and distorted stems.Carefully check plants before buying to ensure they are healthy and show no signs of disease.Shiny green beetles and their round black larvae feed on the foliage of mint plants in summer.Their size and colour make both adult beetles and their larvae easy to spot and remove by hand. .
Jekka's advice on growing mint and her top 10 mint herb plants
The general characteristics of mint is that it dies back over winter and can be picked between late spring and mid-autumn.It is a good idea to pick regularly to keep plants compact and to ensure lots of new shoots.Mint also makes an excellent companion plant as it deters pests, including whitefly, ants and mice, and the flowers attract bees, butterflies and hoverflies.Mentha longifolia: These mints have long leaves and are renowned for either flavour or for amazing flowers, which are wonderful for bees, pollinating insects and butterflies.If you are just after a straightforward garden mint growing outside the back door, and useful in all types of cooking, we suggests Mentha spicata, Spearmint.Mint generally grows well in any soil, but prefers its roots in shade with the sun on its leaves.As it is easier to grow than to eradicate it is good to always plant with roots restricted, either in a container or pot plunged into the ground.We sink pots of mint into Jekka's Herbetum beds (that you can visit on our Open Days).Jekka's top tip: Avoid growing different varieties of mint close together, whether in pots or the ground, as they can lose their individual scent and flavour.For the adventurous cook we have a recipe for Jekka's "After Eight" macaroons using our Mint Fiesta herbal infusion.Wash and sort the gooseberries and add the good ones to a large pan with the bunch of mint leaves and the water Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is soft and pulpy.Setting point is when the liquid has reached 110 Deg C, or when you put some of the jam on a chilled saucer and it wrinkles slightly when you draw your finger across it.Skim off the surface scum, stir in the lemon juice and the chopped mint leaves. .
How to grow mint – in pots and borders
It is an essential ingredient in many recipes and is great for enhancing the taste of many dishes, whether it’s chopped into fresh summer salads, added to desserts, or simply popped into the pot with new potatoes.Mint is also believed to have medicinal properties and the peppermint variety submerged in hot water and drunk as tea is commonly thought to aid digestion.Mint will grow best planted in a sunny but sheltered spot and in neutral to alkaline free draining soil.In his programme Gardeners World the gardening expert Monty Don recommends growing mint this way, suggesting to ‘get hold of a plant – ideally someone can give you one, or you can buy a plant from a supermarket – then, cut a couple of stems, pop them into water, and, after a few days they will start to grow roots.’.‘It even pays to grow mint in a container in a border,’ advises the celebrity gardener Monty Don in his monthly blog (opens in new tab).Place the pot in the hole and infill with a soil and compost mixture, then plant in the mint, firm in well and water.Mint can be grown outside in a border or in containers on a patio, and, even if you don’t have a garden, you can still grow a good crop in pots on a windowsill.To prolong its growth, after it has flowered, consider cutting it right back to just above soil level to encourage fresh shoots for fall picking. .