About This Herb
Mint has gotten a bad reputation from gardeners for its creeping habit that has a way of taking over a garden. The most popular mints to grow for the kitchen are spearmint and peppermint, but pineapple mint, sweet mint, chocolate mint and lemon mint are delicious, too. People have enjoyed mint’s essential oils for hundreds of years, and bees are also attracted to the sweet nectar mint flowers produce.
How to Grow Mint
There are ways to grow mint so it doesn’t overwhelm the garden. One way is to grow mint on its own in a garden space where this perennial spreading herb is welcome or where nothing else seems to grow. Another way to control mint’s habit is to plant in containers, whether they’re intact on the patio or with the mint planted in bottomless containers sunk into the garden soil. This prevents mint runners from spreading.
Locate a sunny to semi-shaded spot in the garden. Mint plants thrive in in fertile, moist soil, although plants can become drought-tolerant once established. For a thriving mint crop, amend the soil so it’s well-draining. However, mint isn’t fussy and it will grow in difficult soil conditions.
It’s easy to get mint established in the garden by planting from transplants or cuttings. Wait until night-time temperatures reach a reliable 50 degrees before planting in the garden.
Dig a planting hole and place the mint plants in the soil as deep as they are in their containers. Firm soil over the roots and water in. Plants will spread so space plants about 12-18 inches apart or plant one plant in a large container.
Mint is one of the easiest plants to grow because it requires little care. For a more vigorous crop, keep up with watering and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer once a month while plants are actively growing.
Mint leaves can be clipped or picked from plants while they’re growing. For larger kitchen uses, cut stems before plants start to flower in summer. Simply snip a stem several inches from the ground. There can be several harvests before the end of the season.
Small stems of mint can be repotted and brought inside to use in the kitchen over winter
How to use Mint in the Kitchen
Most mints are used to sweeten all kinds of recipes, whether used fresh or dried. Favorite uses include mint sauce, mint jelly, mint juleps and mojitos. Mint is also used to flavor candies, ice cream, liqueurs, to sprinkle on fruit salads and steep into a naturally sweet tea.
Companion Plants for Mint
Plant mint with these companions:
- Other mint varieties
- Culinary herbs like oregano, basil, parsley
- Annual flowers or perennial ornamentals
Materials for Mint Success
- High-quality compost
- Potting soil and containers
- Assorted mint types like spearmint and peppermint