You may know it as the toothpaste herb, but mint is a lot more than a flavor for your mouthwash, lozenge, or toothpaste. Its fresh smell and taste add a lovely flavor to salads, smoothies, meat, and tea. Mint is very easy to grow. In fact, it grows so well that you may soon find it all over your garden.
Why Grow Mint?
Mint is delicious, and it’s good for you too! The plant is an antioxidant, and a stiff mint tea is excellent for colds and allergies. Dry it for tea, add a mint sauce to savory and meat dishes, or create your own homemade mint ice cream. In salads, mint pairs well with fruits like strawberries. In the spring and summer months, you can even add it to smoothies to give them some extra zip!
Types of Mint
If you think that mint is just mint, think again! There are two main types of mint: peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint tends to have a somewhat stronger flavor, and it is the mint used to flavor mint tea and ice cream. Its taste is strong, cool, and sweet. Spearmint is a good fresh eating mint, with a milder flavor that is perfect for salads.
There are now a large number of mint hybrids to choose from. These hybrids taste like mint with a hint of something else. They also have a strong smell that often incorporates other fruits. Crush a leaf of chocolate mint, and you get a mixed chocolate and mint aroma. Lovely! If you’d like to try one of the most exotic mints, you can choose from pineapple, orange, apple, banana, lavender and chocolate mint.
If you have mint growing in your garden, chances are it is spearmint, since that is the most common variety. Spearmint has crinkled, textured leaves, while peppermint has smooth leaves.
To grow mint, buy a mint plant and allow it to spread to the size that you desire. Mint spreads very easily, growing through runners where its stems touch the ground. It’s best to grow this plant in a taller container so it does not spread. If you plant mint in the ground, choose a large pot and bury it in the ground so that the mint roots do not extend beyond the pot.
Conditions for Growing Mint
Mint loves the sun. It can also tolerate the shade, but shade will make it leggy. It’s fond of moist soils and doesn’t like dry soil.
Mint Can Be Invasive
Mint is a plant with an enthusiastic attitude, and it is alternately beloved and despised by gardeners. Be cautious when you plant mint, or you will have a lovely, edible, but unintentional groundcover in your garden! Be sure to plant it in a place where it can be contained if you wish to contain it.