Name: mint, common mint, spearmint (Mentha spicata).
Plant type: spreading perennial herb.
Height: to around 30 or 40cm.
Foliage: bright green, oval-shaped with an irregular margin, around 5 × 3cm. Leaves are heavily textured, slightly hairy and strongly aromatic.
Climate: tropical, sub-tropical, warm and cool temperate. Will die back during winter in cooler areas.
Soil: grows best in rich, moist soil with additional organic matter, but is adaptable to virtually any soil, given adequate moisture.
Position: full sun through to heavy shade, although it will stretch in deep shade.
Flowering: tiny white-mauve flowers on small spikes that have a slightly conical form.
Feeding: feed annually with controlled-release fertiliser and supplement regularly with liquid seaweed or organically fortified solutions.
Watering: can only tolerate short periods of dryness. Best if kept reliably moist. Can tolerate wet or occasionally waterlogged positions.
It’s been said that mint is harder to kill than grow, and that isn’t far from the truth. It is a phenomenally easy herb to grow in gardens or in pots, in sun or in shade. It’s also a very useful herb to have around, as it has so many uses—add to cold fruit drinks with ice, pour boiling water over a sprig for soothing tea, dice it up and add to yoghurt as a side dish with spicy foods, and of course who can forget mint sauce with roast lamb? In fact, if you only grew one herb, mint would probably be the most useful.
Given the right conditions, mint is a vigorous scrambling herb. It’s hard to define a shape for the plant, as it tends to shoot up vertically while also sending out surface and subsurface runners, from which new upright shoots arise. As it scrambles, it will root from the nodes, the leaf joints, as they come into contact with the ground. If grown in a sunny spot, kept well-fed and watered and regularly tip-pruned it will take a mounding shape.
The leaves are very distinctive—bright green and heavily textured to the point of being crinkled. But it’s the aroma that makes mint instantly recognisable.
As mint is in family Lamiaceae, it has a characteristic typical of all such plants: distinctly square stems.
Mint can quickly run into areas where you don’t want it. It’s best to give it its own garden space. Alternatively, this is one of those very rare occasions where it might be beneficial to plant it in the ground contained by a large plastic pot. Even then, it may still run, as the shoots can set roots down. It won’t ever become a serious problem, but it may be a nuisance when you find it shooting up through your other herbs and veggies.
Mint can be grown for a variety of uses, including:
Plant your mint in full sun through to shade. Its moisture requirements become greater in full sun, and in hot climates it should be protected from harsh sun. Mint grows best with some protection from harsh or drying winds.
Mint will perform best in rich, moist soil or premium-quality potting mix, but it will grow in virtually any type of soil, even clay, given adequate moisture.
Mint needs reliably moist conditions, and can tolerate drying out only for short periods. If it does dry out, it will very quickly die back, but may reshoot from underground runners once well-watered.
If you see seed, this can be collected—mint will grow readily from it. Just sow into a pot or tray of seed-raising mix and keep warm and moist.
Mint is very easy to grow from cuttings:
As mint can be very vigorous and potentially invasive, some gardeners prefer to grow it in pots.
With mint the most important things are keeping it fed and watered. Also consider the following tips:
Regularly tip pruning mint will help to keep its growth in check and also help keep it in a neat, dense mounding shape. If mint becomes too rangy, don't be afraid to cut it back hard. If any of the shoots you cut off have rooted, these can be potted and grown on.
Mint encounters very few pest or disease problems, although white-fly may bother plants that are not receiving adequate water.
How to grow herbs: don’t just stop at one, start your own herb pantry.
Lettuce: one of the easiest veggies to grow—just keep it watered and fed and you’ll have great success.
Kaffir lime: the essential ingredient in many a spicy Asian dish.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!
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