If there’s one herb that never seems to die, it’s mint. And this delicious, helpful, and tasty herb is easy to grow at home with a just a few helpful tips. And did I mention that growing mint at home goes beyond just using it in recipes? Yep! Mint has many other uses, including keeping bugs away!
Why grow mint?
Mint is fragrant perennial plant that can be grown indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in the garden. The versatile plant can be used in culinary applications, for medicinal purposes, to freshen the air or breath, keep bugs at bay, or simply to look at. The many varieties of mint, including peppermint: (Mentha x piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) and citrus mint (Mentha x piperita var. citrata) all have one thing in common – a square stem.
Use these tips for growing mint so you can start enjoying this fragrant plant right away!
Where to plant mint
Mint will tolerate some shade and prefers a moist, loamy soil when being grown outdoors. And since it’s a great deterrent for insects, it’s perfect for placing around a patio or other outdoor seating area. Your guests will thank you!
The plant releases its fragrance when touched, so using it as a border plant at walkways or by other high foot traffic areas will fill the air with minty fresh aroma. What could be more welcoming than that?
In the garden, mint is an ideal companion plant for cabbage and tomatoes, the scent repels many pests including deer (find my full list of fabulous companion plants) . For smaller gardens, I suggest growing mint in pots. It spreads very quickly, and a container can help to contain its vigorous growth so it doesn’t take over.
How to plant mint
Start with small plants and plant two, two feet apart in the selected outdoor location. Plants will spread via underground rhizomes and horizontal runners and fill in a barren area within a couple of years, much like lemon balm. So, if you’re trying to keep your mint limited to a certain area, consider burying a pot for your mint to grow in, or use metal edging down in the soil to keep a boundary up for the rhizomes.
For growing indoors, containers of mint should be placed in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight. Mint will bring a pop of bright color to the space and a lovely scent as well.
How large does mint grow?
The mature size for a single mint plant will be around two feet tall and four feet wide. The plant can be trained to grow vertically and used as a ground cover if needed. The plant top can be pinched out to keep it at any height desired, or use your mint on a regular basis to keep the plant size under control. Regularly pinching the top out will keep container grown mint bushy and compact. Mint produces tiny flowers if left unpruned.
By letting your mint “go” in the fall, your plant will bloom, and this is a fantastic food source for pollinators, so be sure to allow at least some of your mint to do this. Your bees and butterflies will thank you!
How to care for mint
Growing mint is easy and the plants are almost maintenance free. Apply a two inch layer of organic mulch around plants to help keep soil moist, especially during hot and dry summer months.
Mint plants start out slow the first year of planting, but will soon take over an area if not controlled. The underground runners and rhizomes spread quickly to start new plants, fortunately the roots are very shallow and mint can easily be controlled by pulling up unwanted plants. A physical barrier, like a walkway or landscape timbers, will keep the growing mint within the desired boundary.
Uses for mint
Growing mint puts a versatile, flavorful, fragrant herbal plant right at your fingertips. Pinch a leaf off and chew it to freshen breath. Add a sprig to your favorite beverage for a refreshing flavor and to relieve stress and tension.
Use mint cubes in iced tea or mint juleps (here’s a fantastic recipe). Brooklyn Farm Girl has a great recipe for drying your own mint leaves for tea. Mint is also fantastic herb used to season meat for roasting or grilling, so give it a try and play around with its versatile flavor!
Create a mint simple syrup to add to tea and lemonade for a refreshing drink. See my recipe for lemon balm simple syrup and simply swap out mint for the lemon balm!
How to store mint
Mint can be stored for use later in a variety of ways. Crush leaves and place one in each compartment of an ice cube tray, then fill with water and freeze. Or dry the mint leaves for storing with your other dried herbs.
Overall, mint is useful both indoors and out, so don’t let its habit of wanting to spread keep you from planting it. Since it can be easily controlled, plant some mint in your flower beds or containers and reap the tasty and anxiety relieving benefits all year long!