Mint is a quick growing and often invasive perennial herb which comes in many varieties. It can be used to calm an upset stomach and to relieve muscle spasms. Leaves are used in jellies, sauces, teas, and to flavor various candies. There are numerous species with various scents. More popular mints include spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, and orange mints. A sprig of fresh mint is a pretty garnish for summer drinks — and you can’t have a mint julep without it. Try adding a couple of sprigs of mint to the water before cooking your peas. Toss boiled new potatoes with butter and chopped mint—a nice change from parsley. Instead of mint jelly with a lamb roast, try the traditional English mint sauce. Add a little sugar to a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh mint leaves, add boiling water to bring out the flavor, then top off with vinegar to taste.
Where to Grow Mint
In general, mints are very hardy and can easily be grown almost anywhere in the United States. Plant them from root divisions any time during the growing season.
Soil for Mint
Mints grow well in any soil; they prefer sun but will tolerate partial shade. Don’t fertilize before planting; they will produce more than adequate supply of mint without it.
Although you can plant mints anytime during the growing season, root divisions will be established faster if planted on a cool, moist day in spring or fall.
Mint varieties grown from seed will not grow “true.” So it’s generally more satisfactory to use root divisions, which can even be purchased in grocery stores these days. An innocuous little plant of mint will wander all over the garden if it gets half a chance, so plant each one in a container that will keep the roots in one place — a two-pound coffee can with both ends removed is good. Space plants two or three inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
To contain invasive growth, plant mint in a container from which the bottom has been removed and set into the ground. Don’t fertilize mints; they’ll never miss it. Both peppermint and spearmint prefer moist soil, so they’ll require more watering than the rest of the garden. Keep them evenly moist until root divisions are well established.
|Germination||60 - 80 F|
|Soil and Water|
|pH||5.6 - 7.5|
|Root Depth||2 - 24"|
|Height||18 - 24"|
|Space between plants|
|in rows||12 - 18"|
|space between rows||18 - 24"
|Companions||Brassica, Peas, and Tomato can benefit|
|Incompatibles||Mint is very invasive and should be kept away from other spices; they will absorb a minty flavor also.|
|Basically cut the leaves when needed. A pair of scissors or nipping with fingers both work well. It pays to cut the top leaves first, to encourage the plant to shoot out again further down the stem. Never strip the plant of all it's leaves. Just prior to flowering, cut stems 1" above the soil. you can harvest mint 2-3 times in one growing season.|
When to harvest mint?
The more mint you pick, the better the plants will grow, and you can pick sprigs throughout the growing season. Mint can be harvested at any time, and it is recommended that you harvest it as needed to enjoy it at its peak freshness. For a large harvest, it is best to wait until the flavor is most intense. The flavor will peak just before it starts to flower. Mint will tolerate a light frost, but you may want to consider harvesting any remaining mint to use over the winter if a hard frost is predicted.
How to harvest mint leaves?
To harvest the entire plant, cut it down to 1-2″ above the soil. You’ll get a second smaller harvest the same season as the plant will regrow. Fresh mint can be kept for several days in the refrigerator. If they’re dirty or sandy, rinse them gently just before using them. Wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag, herbs stay fresh for several days. Those herbs that still have their roots can be kept longer; place them in fresh water at room temperature, like cut flowers. You can wrap the roots in a damp cloth and store the herbs in a plastic bag in the warmest part of your refrigerator. You can also freeze the herbs whole or chopped, without blanching; if you wash them, dry them thoroughly. To dry, strip the mint leaves from the stem and let them dry in a warm shady area. The dried leaves can be stored in a jar with an airtight seal and remains flavorful for up to 2 years if kept in a dark place.
|Store fresh mint leaves in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Leaves can be finely chopped and mixed with a small amount of olive oil to be frozen. Dry entire branches in a slow oven, a food dehydrator, or hang in a warm, dry and dark place. Store in airtight jars in a dark place for the best flavor retention.|
How Mint grows
Mint is a tall (2-3′), shallow-rooted, fast-spreading perennial with square stems and leaves that usually have a purple tinge. It is very prolific—once you set them in a corner of the garden, they’ll quietly take over. Its roots spread freely, so it is commonly contained in a pot or physical barrier. Its long spear-like leaves are slightly curled and deeply veined and have a refreshing, clean aroma. Vegetative cuttings usually propagate the plant. The light lavender flowers appear in terminal spikes (2-4″ long) and bloom through most of the growing season. You may also come across varieties like golden apple mint, which has a more delicate flavor than spearmint. This plant also has pale purple flowers, but the leaves are dark green streaked with gold. Orange mint, sometimes known as bergamot mint, gets its name from its delicate scent of oranges. Orange mint has reddish-green leaves edged with purple; the flowers are lavender.
Mints have no notable pest concerns.
Mints are susceptible to verticillium wilt and mint rust. Prevent these diseases by removing all the dead stems and leaves from the bed before winter.