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Growing Mint
(Mentha piperita, M. spicata, etc.)

Peppermint_Corsican_Mint_MichaelThompsonGrowing mint plants is remarkably easy. Mint is found growing all over the world, so the trick becomes not how to grow mint, but how to thwart it.

Mint has remarkable adaptability to various growing conditions. It can be found growing thickly (and quickly) in full sun, however it’s happiest (and most invasive) in a cool, moist setting with good, bright, filtered light. As long as the runners are contained, you'll be in good shape.

The aggressive part of growing mint plants happen just under the surface of the soil. These are the "runners". Plant your mint in a pot and then bury about 2/3 of the pot where you wanted your mint plants to grow. The pot will act as a barrier to mint just growing wild over your whole garden.

Below you will find a description of the mint plant, including its height, hardiness, and flower; light, moisture, and soil requirements; cultivation tips for keeping your growing mint both in-check and tasty; our favorites varieties; and some ideas for how to use mint in your home.

Description

The square-ish stem and slightly hairy leaves of most mints is a hallmark of the Lamiaceae family, making it cousins of such culinary superstars as Basil, Sage, and Catnip.

While there are ground cover mints, most range from 2 to 4 feet tall and offer small pink-violet flowers. All are herbaceous and all are perennial. Very perennial.

 

Light, Soil, and Moisture Requirements

Light: Full sun to full shade, variable by variety.

Soil: average soil, and well-drained.

Moisture: moderate to wet soil. The mint plant likes consistent moisture.


Gardening Tips for Growing Mint

Actually, this section is more about restraining the spreading nature of the mint herb; we don't anticipate you having trouble growing it.

Unless you absolutely, positively want it to go everywhere, we recommend growing mint in an open bottomed 5-gallon container in the ground, or with some sort of buried metal or wooden barrier suggesting the limit of where you want to grow mint.

My folks grew it where we coiled the garden hose. The dribbling hose made the mint happy, the damage of getting smashed by the hose regularly kept it in check. It was a win-win.

You can start from seed or a seedling with equal ease, and it is extremely divide-able, should your neighbor have a variety you particularly covet.


Varieties to Try

Whether you want contrast and pop or subtlety and texture, there are mints for you.

Great color choices include 'Chocolate’ peppermint, which offers subtle chocolate undertones, and ‘Pineapple’ mint has wonderfully variegated cream and green leaves and a sweeter, fruitier aroma and palette.

For unusually fine grained texture, you can't beat the teeny, tiny rounded leaves of the ‘Corsican’ mint. This one is a lovely, slower-spreading groundcover tolerant of the kinds of abuse accrued by the plants that line the garden path (hint, hint.)

CAUTION! One ground cover mint, known as pennyroyal and not looking as minty as other mints, is POISONOUS. Do NOT put pennyroyal in your herb garden.

Cooking with the Mint Plant

Teas made from steeped mint leaves are perfect for helping to sooth headaches, settle upset stomachs, heartburn, nausea, even motion sickness!

And mint is an absolute necessity in Mint Juleps, Mojitos, tabbouleh, and an almost endless listing of foods, candies, and drinks.

 


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