How to Grow Mint – A Guide to Growing Mint
Mint has to be one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden. You can start from seed but usually it’s purchased as a plant and grown on. It’s very tolerant and grows in full sun, partial shade and hardier varieties in full shade. Place in the soil and stand back!
This vigorous habit is the main problem with mint, it spreads like a weed so the usual method to prevent it taking over the garden is to either grow in large pots or to place a bottomless pot in the ground with a couple of centimetres of lip above ground and plant in that to constrain it.
Mints come in a surprising number of flavours as well as basic garden mint, at least 25. Check varieties of mint below.
You can buy mint seeds but will probably find more varieties available as plants in a good garden centre
Propagation is easy, just divide an existing rootball into halves or quarters and pot up at any time of year.
If you intend to grow mint in a border, use an old, large pot ( see above), with the bottom removed. Fill the container with a 50/50 mix of ordinary multi-purpose compost and John Innes No. 3
Over a season, mint will the container and become root-bound. So each spring, take out the plant and divide into halves or quarters and pot up.
If you discard mint roots, treat as a perennial weed. Either hot compost or drown for two weeks before composting.
To keep it in top condition, feed monthly with a high nitrogen fertiliser or use slow release fertilisers.
Mint is a perennial and will die back over winter, coming back to life in the spring.
Pinching out the growing tips will keep the plant bushy.
- Pick the leaves as and when required.
Pests and Problems with Mint
- Mint is generally trouble free but don’t let it dry out.
- Spreading is the most common problem, so confine in the soil as above or container grow,
- Some varieties such as pineapple mint are not very hardy and over-wintering in a greenhouse is recommended.
- Planting different varieties too close to each other should be avoided as they can lose their original flavours
Varieties of Mint
- Mint Garden (Mentha spicata) (The ‘normal’ mint)
- Mint English Lamb (Enhanced strain good for mint sauce)
- Mint Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
- Mint Peppermint White (Mentha x piperata)
- Mint Grapefruit (Mentha x piperata f.citrata)
- Mint Basil (Mentha x piperata citrata)
- Mint Chocolate Peppermint (Mentha x piperata citrata)
- Mint Corsican (Mentha reguienu)
- Mint Tashkent Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
- Mint Moroccan (Mentha spicata)
- Mint Banana (Mentha arvensis Banana)
- Mint Silver (Mentha x longifolia)
- Mint Lavender (Mentha x piperata citrata)
- Mint Curly Spearmint (Mentha spicata crispa)
- Mint Ginger (Mentha x gracilis variegata)
- Mint Lime (Mentha x piperata citrata Lime)
- Mint Peppermint Black (Mentha x piperata)
- Mint Eau de Cologne (Mentha x piperata citrata)
- Mint Water (Mentha aquatica)
- Mint Orange (Mentha x pipereata citrata)
- Mint Bowles (Mentha x villosa alopecuroides)
- Mint Lemon (Mentha x piperata citrata)
- Mint Apple (Mentha suaveolens)
- Mint Red (Mentha x smithiana)
- Mint Pineapple (mentha suaveolens variegata)
Eating & Storing Mint
- It is well known as a garnish for new potatoes. Try it with fresh garden peas as well, or chopped finely into plain yoghurt as an accompaniment to spicy dishes.
- Mint dries and freezes well, or you can also make mint sauce or jelly to preserve it.
- A leaf or two in a mug of hot chocolate adds a tingle.
- Menthol rich mints (M.x.piperita) are used as decongestants
Strong mints like spearmint or peppermint are said to deter aphids and can be interplanted in a rose bed for that purpose.