Mints are hardy perennials grown from divisions of established plants. Mints can be divided–established plants sliced in half by a spade roots and all–anytime during the growing season. They are best started in the cool weather of spring or fall.
Description. Mints are hardy, upright perennials that generally grow from 2 to 3 feet tall, though a few grow much shorter. Mints have smooth, four-sided stems with dark green, creased, round to oval leaves pointed at the tip. Mints flower in mid to late summer producing whorls of small white to lavender blossoms on terminal spikes. There are many varieties of mint. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (M. spicata) are the best known.
Yield. Plant one or two mints per household. A variety of mints can be grown in separate containers.
Site. Plant mints in full sun; they will tolerate partial shade. Mints grow best in moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Mints spread rapidly by shallow, underground runners; contain mints within metal strips or bottomless containers 10-inches deep sunk into the ground.
Planting time. Mints are hardy and will withstand frost. Grow mints from divisions or cutting started in cool weather, spring or fall. Mints are most easily grown from the division of established plants or from new plants which grow from the roots. They also can be propagated from cuttings taken in spring. Mint seed is very slow to germinate. Mints grown in cold winter climates are best over-wintered in a sheltered place. Cut back and replant mints every two to three years.
Planting and spacing. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Contain mints within metal strips or bottomless containers 10 inches deep set into the ground.
Watering and feeding. Mints prefer moist soil. Water mints regularly and evenly. Keep the soil evenly moist until root divisions are established. Prepare planting beds with aged compost. Top-dress mints with aged compost or aged manure in the fall.
Companion plants. Asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, parsley, peppers, tomatoes.
Care. Take root or stem cuttings, or divide mint in spring and autumn. In summer, root stems cuttings in water. Keep mint pinched back for fuller growth; prune back the top half in late spring and midsummer. Avoid letting flower bloom; this will affect the oil content of leaves.
Propagation: Use runners to start new plants or start cuttings
Container growing. Mint can be container grown as an annual. Choose a container at least 8 to 10 inches deep. Divide and repot container grown mints every year to keep them healthy.
Pests. Mints have no serious pest problems but can be attacked by aphids and mites; spray these away with a strong blast of water.
Diseases. Mints are susceptible to verticillium wilt and mint rust. Remove diseased or dead stems and leaves form the bed before winter. Replant the roots in a different spot.
Harvest. Mints are ready for the harvest of leaves and sprigs 60 days after planting. Pick sprigs and leaves throughout the growing season. Cut flowers stalks before they bloom. Cut the entire plant down to 2 or 3 inches above the soil at midseason and it will regrow for a second harvest.
• Peppermint (Mentha piperita): dark green pointed leaves; gives a cooling sensation in the mouth and throat; use to flavor sweets.
• Spearmint (M. spicata): dark green toothed leaves; use fresh or dried to flavor food.
• Apple mint (M. suaveolens): round, green-gray leaves.
• Golden apple mint (M. x gracilis): smooth, deep green leaves; flavor foods.
• Corsican mint (M. requienii): small plant just an inch or two tall.
• Chocolate mint (M. x piperita ‘chocolate’).
• Orange bergamot mint (M. x p. citrata): long leaves.
• Field mint (M. arvensis).
• Water mint (M. aquatic): round to oval leaves; strop peppermint fragrance.
• Japanese mint (M. arvensis piperescens): dark green leaves.
• Horsemint (M. longifolia): oval, hairy leaves; aromatic.
• Pennyroyal (M. pulegium): low grower; toxic in large amounts.
• Curly mint (M. spicata ‘Crispata’): groundcover; aromatic.
• Pineapple mint (M. suaveolens ‘Variegata’): pineapple fragrance when young.
Storing and preserving. Use leaves fresh for best flavor. Dry stems upside down in a warm, shady place then strip dried leaves to be stored in an airtight jar. Freeze mint leaves in a plastic bag.
Use: food flavoring, teas, liqueurs, medicine, mouse repellent
Common name. Mint
Botanical name. Mentha species (see varieties)