How to Grow Chocolate Mint
Mentha x piperita aka Chocolate Mint is a fragrant perennial member of the mint family. As its name indicates it has a chocolate flavor coupled with the standard menthol common to all mint plants. The combination of compounds and essential oils of this plant creates a delicious flavor and aroma reminiscent of chocolate mint cookies, thin mints and similar confections.
Perennial in suitable zones
USDA zones 5 to 11
Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0
Full Sun or Partial Shade
Tolerant of Light Frost
Not Drought Tolerant
Soil: Well Drained
Space Seedlings 14 to 18 inches apart
Mature height: 1.5 to 2 feet
Chocolate Mint leaves look very similar to standard mint varieties such as peppermint and spearmint, the stems however lean towards a brownish-purplish shading which sometimes is mirrored on the leaf edges.
The plants attain a height in the vicinity of 1.5 to 2 feet. It is very fragrant and like most mints will attract pollinating insects. Whitish Lavender Flowers are tiny and appear on the stem tip in early to mid summer.
Starting mint plants from seed can be bothersome. Germination rates are low and they are sometimes slow to grow. Starting from cuttings or divisions is the most common mode of starting mint, if you have access to any. Starter plants can also be purchased.
Chocolate mint fades and fizzles in extreme hot weather, it does best in cool temperatures. It will grow in full sun, however if you live in a hot region partial shade is best. It is also not drought tolerant so should be kept well watered. It will survive some dry spells, but not too often.
Chocolate mint will spread prolifically if left unchecked. All mints have the tendency to become invasive, chocolate mint is no exception. Once established it will vigorously spread via its underground stems so you'll need to maintain its spread in order to prevent it from overtaking neighboring plants.
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.
Another 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.
A layer of mulch in the Autumn will help protect them in their winter dormancy.
Plants grown in full sun tend adopt an upright growth pattern, if grown in partial shade, which they tolerate, they tend to sprawl along the surface and create a ground cover.
Fertilizer is not necessary so long as the soil is reasonably fertile, not sand and certainly not clay. If your soil is abysmal Modest amounts of fertilizer can't hurt. Fertilize in early Spring and then every fifth week thereafter with a balanced fertilizer. No more than 3 X per season and in Modest amounts
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