Herb - Culinary / Medicinal
USDA Zones 3 to 10 Depend. on Variety
Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0
Mints are a pungent aromatic perennial herb. Most varieties of mint will spread rampantly. If left unchecked they form a lush ground cover and a net of underground stems. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green fields of mint. They generally thrive in USDA Zones 3-8. Mint is somewhat frost tolerant, the top will eventually die back in cold weather.
There are multiple varieties of mint. Sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, Corsican mint - which makes an attractive addition to landscapes, orange mint as well as numerous hybrids and variegated forms.
Plant in the spring, or in the fall in frost-free climates, setting seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart. Fertile soil, high in nitrogen is good, a pH from 6.0 to 7.0 is optimal. See: Tracking and Adjusting Soil pH. Excessive fertilizer will cause leaf burn - don't overdo it.
Mint is plenty vigorous on its own, but will appreciate a little fertilizer every few weeks, especially if you harvest a lot.
All mints prefer a moist cool location with partial shade, but will perform acceptably in full sun. One plant of each cultivar you select will provide more than enough mint for personal household use.
As stated they spread vivaciously, so you'll need to maintain them in order to prevent them from overrunning your yard and garden.
One method of controlling mint plant is using bottomless containers 12 - 15 inches in depth and sunk in the ground with one or two inches protruding above the soil surface. Another is to plant them above ground in containers.
Keep the plants in check by harvesting the tips on a regular basis and removing renegade runners. Small flowers bloom from June to September, you should trim these before the buds open to keep the plant compact and manageable.
Trouble Shooting ~ Companion Planting Mint
Young mint plants are vulnerable to snails, slugs, whiteflies, black flies, spider mites.
Some varieties of mint also serve a natural insect repellant.
Spearmint will deter Aphids.
All mint plants will deter squash bugs.
Peppermint repels white cabbage moths, aphids ,flea beetles, and other pests. Peppermint when grown near chamomile will produce less peppermint oils but the chamomile will benefit and grow better.
Some creeping varieties of mint will attract bees, which are welcome in gardens. Avoid planting near Rue. See: Companion Gardening
Mint plants are good companion plants for brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are also a good neighbor to tomato plants.
Harvest and Storage of Mint Leaves
Snip leaves as needed. To harvest in bulk, cut the stems to about an inch above the ground, most plants will re-grow from the stem you leave behind. It is best to wait until just before the plant blooms, the flavor is the most intense at this point.
Hang harvested mint in loose bunches to dry, individual leaves can be dried on a tray or in a food dehydrator. They can also be frozen in freezer bags for later use.
Mint teas either hot or iced. Peppermint tea, Mint Jelly are just a few of Mint leaves many uses. Chopped fresh leaves can be added to many meals, meats, rice, salads, cooked vegetables. You can also make a simple Mint Extract for use a flavoring agent.
Dried Mint is also used for potpourri or sachets.