≡ Menu

Plant Profile: Mint (Mentha spp.)

Mint is not for the faint of heart. It is a garden thug and needs a stern hand to keep it under control. I thought I could control it by growing it in a pot. WRONG! It filled the pot, grew over the side and onto the ground where it is now taking over. I have trimmed it to the ground, pulled it up by the roots, all to no avail. It creeps from its confines no matter what I do yet I would not be without it. Couscous would not be couscous without it and roast leg of lamb would not be the same. And how could you have mint julep without mint? So, I battle on with my mint, losing both the battle and the war, but I have lots of mint when I want it so the struggle is worth it.

You may wonder why I have put spp. instead of the species name. The various kinds of mint interbreed and so you can not be all that sure of the species. Spearmint and peppermint are the two kinds you are most likely to have because these were brought to the New World by colonists who used them medicinally to cure headaches, heartburn, and indigestion. Modern science suggests that peppermint really is good for digestive problems because of the menthol is contains. Menthol promotes digestion in various ways so eating an after-dinner mint makes good sense. Peppermint if best for flavoring candy but is a bit strong for other culinary uses. Spearmint, on the other hand, contains a much smaller amount of menthol and is milder tasting so is primarily used as a flavoring in cooking along with pineapple mint, apple mint, and curly mint.

Type: Herbaceous perennial herb.

Bloom: Tiny purple, pink, or white flowers are borne in whorls or terminal spikes.

Foliage: Simple, opposite, toothed; very fragrant.

Size: 2’ H x (rampant spreaders).

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained.

Fertilizer: Too much fertilizer can result in rust.

Hardiness: Zones 5-10.

Care: If plants get out of control or leggy, mow as they come into flower and watch them return as a nice thick carpet.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to verticillium wilt, mint rust, mint anthracnose, spider mites, loopers, mint lea beetles, mint root borer, grasshoppers, cutworms, root weevils, and aphids.

Propagation: Cuttings in summer, division in fall, layering; peppermint is sterile so can not be reproduced from seed but other mints can be reproduced this way.

Herbs plant profiles pointer