Written by David S.
Mint is a fantastic herb. It offers culinary delights, has medicinal properties, is an aromatic, and bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love it too. Inside, we discuss how to grow mint, the care and soil requirements of growing mint, some of its many uses, and the different varieties to consider. Let’s get growing!
Mint is a rather large family of plants with as many uses commercially as it does at home. Those range from the swanky mint julep to the hard peppermint candies to delightful dried teas and garish.
Before we delve into the greatness of mint and how to grow it, we need to mention its one bad habit. Mint is highly invasive. We recommend always planting mint in a beautiful spot. The pot will keep mint in its place and still allow the plants to thrive.
Lighting Needs for Mint
In most areas, mint loves full sun, but in Southern California, it may like some afternoon shade. In general, mint does very well in hardiness zones 3-8, but it will also grow in zones 9-10 with some shade and plenty of water.
If you are planting a variegated cultivar, it will require afternoon shade. These love lots of morning sun and then shade for the rest of the day.
Soil Needs for Growing Mint
Mint needs plenty of organic matter to thrive. It will grow in poor soil, but if you want to experience the full flavor of mint, it must have plenty of organic matter in the soil. The soil also needs to drain well but hold moisture. A thin layer of mulch will help prevent water loss from evaporation.
- pH — 6.0-7.0 – fairly neutral.
- Well-draining, highly organic, but able to hold water.
Products that help build the perfect soil for growing mint:
- Black Gold Natural & Organic Raised Bed and Potting Mix- full of goodness like earthworm castings, beneficial organisms, and peat moss, to name a few ingredients. It has enough organic material to help mint thrive and enough soil moisture ingredients that the soil will stay moist but not soggy.
- EB Stone Organic Compost – A perfect blend of ingredients to allow the full flavor of mint to shine.
- FoxFarms Original Planting Mix is also an excellent choice. It is full of earthworm casting, forest goodness, and peat moss. You could mix in some of their 70/30 water holding amendment into the bottom of the pot too.
Care Needs for Mint
Mint does not need a ton of care. It requires good soil and consistent watering but other than that, it will thrive. What is essential with mint is to keep the soil evenly moist. It is not a forgiving plant, and it will die if it dries out for long.
When you build the soil, keep in mind that well-draining and consistent moisture are doable. Start with good soil and amend it to hold water but not remain soggy. The FoxFarms 70/30 is a mixture of coconut fiber and perlite. Both will absorb moisture that the mint roots will tap into, but also they allow the soil to drain. We recommend putting a few inches of 70/30 in the bottom of your pot.
Watering Requirements for Mint
Plan on 1-2 inches of water per week. That is 16-32 gallons of water. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Peppermint – is quite excellent dried as a tea or fresh-brewed herbal tea. Use about 1/4 of a cup of fresh mint leaves per 2 cups of water. You can adjust the amount of leaves up or down to create the perfect cup of tea. Steep for 5 minutes or add the leaves to boiling water. TIP: there are many varieties of mint, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Apple Mint — One of the varieties that are best when fresh rather than dried. Apple mint is delightful in cold-brewed teas, sorbets, and even cocktails. You can add apple mint to ice cube trays, fill with cold water and freeze. The minty ice cubes are refreshing in teas and iced waters. You can also steep fresh apple mint leaves to create minty ice cubes. Adjust the amount of leaves you steep to suit your tastes.
- Spearmint is lovely dried or fresh. As a tea, it helps soothe you and may calm upset tummies. Some research suggests spearmint may reduce stress.
- Pennyroyal – If you want a natural insect repellant, give pennyroyal a try. It is very aromatic and may even kill germs. It is lovely as a hair tonic and in lotions.
These are a few of the very many varieties of mint. Mint is helpful in many ways, though many of us are familiar with it as a tea or as an ingredient in commercial products such as chewing gum.
Other Uses for Mint
As an aromatic plant, a container of mint growing near a window can refresh your home with subtle tones of minty goodness. In the kitchen, mint is very delightful. If you love to grill, you can find many ways to add mint to rubs for meat.
Dried mint is lovely in a potpourri mix for bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and even in the car.
There are SO many varieties of mint that you can spend quite some time trying them all to figure which ones your favorites are. Some exotic types are quite remarkable. A mixture of mint plants offers the most uses and makes a beautiful way to know this lovely herb.
You can grow mint from seeds or transplant it directly. In hotter climates, mint plants are easier to get started than are seeds. Stop in Green Thumb Nursery — we have five locations throughout Southern California — and shop the extensive herb collection. Inventory changes often, so give us a call if you want a specific plant or product. We are happy to check our stock for you.
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