Growing Mint in Your Herb Garden

Many of us love mint. With many different flavors of mint available at garden centers, it is easy to want to plant one of each. Planning ahead makes this possible to do, but lack of planning may have you tearing them all out.

How Mint Grows

Mint grows as a groundcover. The underground runners spread quickly and are difficult to remove if containment is desired. In other words, mint is often considered invasive and can quickly take over flowerbeds, vegetable plots and even areas of turf near where it is originally planted. Planting in pots placed into the ground prevents its escape, or intensive labor may be needed to help get mint back to its original proportions after it has wandered.

Planting Mint

To help keep mint under control and more accessible for use, many gardeners opt to plant it indoors. Attractive in barrels or pots by the kitchen, mint leaves and flowers can be easily available for cooking or beverages.

To prevent plants from looking rangy, frequently cut or pinch back new growth. Pinching off the flower buds produces more lush leaves and fuller plants.

Mints grow well in sun or part shade, preferring well-drained but moist soil. Although not particular about soil type, enriching clay soil with compost will improve the overall plant appearance and taste. Different soil pH values and organic compositions may also have some minor influence on the taste of different mints.

Most mints grow 18-30 inches tall. Plant at least 2 inches apart to prevent cross-pollination of different varieties and preserve the best flavors. As a perennial, the plant may disappear in the winter, but will return in spring, hardier and more vigorous than ever.

Using Mint

It’s no surprise that mint is an edible favorite. Not only is it popular for refreshing drinks such as mint juleps or mint-infused lemonade, but it is also ideal for…

  • Sauces
  • Salads, especially fruit salad
  • Flavoring for cookies, cakes and puddings
  • Jellies and preserves
  • Smoothies
  • Soups and stews
  • Ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt
  • Garnishes on meats
  • Freezing in ice cubes for a drink garnish

Mint can be used fresh for a strong, vibrant taste, or it can easily be dried and used all year long. Both fresh and dried mint sprigs can also be fragrant additions to cut flower arrangements, wreaths or other greenery decorations as well. With so many wonderful options for mint, you’ll want to add some to freshen up your herb garden today!