I Love to grow mint. Growing peppermint is one of the easiest herbs to plant.
Mints thrive in varied conditions and spread through underground runners quickly establishing a nice mint patch.
I love spearmint so I put a small plant in my front flower bed. I soon found mint is a hardy plant that quickly spread through out the bed.
Year after year my spearmint popped up in new places.
Mint is native to the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia and has been naturalized in America.
A hardy perennial it can be use in cooking, for medicinal oils and for flavoring teas and candy.
Mints can grow to 2 feet tall depending on the variety and is hardy to zone 5 through 9.
Tiny flowers on spikes bloom in shades of purple, pink and white. Stems in the mint family have square edges with opposite leaves with toothed edges.
Mints come from the genus Mentha from the Labiatae family. Many of the species are useful and have a minty flavor. The following are the most common used and worth while to grow in the home garden.
Spearmint metha spicata - Great for cooking, makes a nice tea, mint sauce or jellies. Use fresh on fruit and deserts.
Peppermint metha piperita - Used mainly in making peppermint oil for medicines and candies.
Pennroyal metha pulegium - A creeping mint that is used in herbal teas to ease colds and coughs and has a flavor similar to peppermint. Some people are sensitive to pennyroyal and should be used carefully.
Wooly Mint mentha rotundifolia - Also know as apple mint. It grows in abundance in the wild here in the United States. Wooly mint is used in Italy for cooking and can be used as a ground cover. The tips of the plant are fuzzy with gray hairs.
Pineapple Mint mentha suaveolens variegata - is a cultivar of the wooly mint. It has variegated leaves of green and white. Pineapple mint is a nice ornamental variety that can be used in cooking or just to add interest to the herb garden.
Growing peppermint can be started from plant starts. Mint seeds do not always grow to the exact plant desired. It’s easy to get a start from a friend just dig a small section and transplant to a spot in your herb garden or yard. Your local nursery will have plants as well.
Mints like moist soil with full sun or partial shade. Mints plants will set strong roots about 2 inches deep. New plants emerge along the runners if kept moist.
If you want to keep the mint contained put in it a bed with 6 to 8 inch boards set in the soil in a square. You can grow mint in a planter set on your patio or set a large pot in the soil to help contain the mint.
Don’t add compost to the beds as it promotes rust in the peppermint plants. Cut mints frequently to keep it looking nice. In the fall cut your mint plants back to the ground after harvesting. This helps keep over wintering pest at a minimum.
After about 4 to 5 years dig out older plants and let the newer plants grow. This keeps your mint patch fresh and producing high quality herbs.
The fresh mint smell as you walk over a patch of mint is a nice aroma. It is very soothing.
If you live in a warm climate you can harvest your mint as you need it year round. In my part of the world the cold winters prevent a year round harvest so I harvest my mint through out the summer. I like to harvest my mint when the stems reach about 12 inches in length before they produce flowers.
Mint is great dried but can also be frozen for use all winter. To dry mint gather the stems and wash off the dirt under cool water. Bundle about 6 to 10 stems together and wrap the ends with string or a rubber band.
Hang the mint bundle upside down from a rack or shelf in a cool dry place and let the bundle air dry. When the leaves dry and crumble they are ready to store.
Strip the leaves off the stems into a bowl. Store the dried leaves in an air tight container, mark the date and store in a cool dark place.
To freeze your mint, rinse the leaves under cool water to rinse of the dirt. Place in a small zip lock bag, label the bag with contents and date and freeze. To keep the stems separate you can freeze the leaves on a cooking sheet until they are frozen and them place in a zip lock freezer bag.
I always label the bags and containers with the type of herb and the date. When herbs are frozen or dried it can be hard to tell what they are later.
I use a lot of dried peppermint in the winter as well as for fresh peppermint lemonade in the summer.
When my supply runs low from the garden I buy from Mountain Rose Herbs. I love their quality and prices. I can buy in a 4 oz size or buy a pound and save more.