Numerous species of mint are available, but two main varieties are widely grown and produced world wide. The spearmint (Mentha viridis) and peppermint (Mentha piperita) plants offer an abundance of culinary uses, flavoring alternatives and medicinal uses. All mint species are perennials and share the same growing requirements. Flowers in shades of white and pink appear in the late summer and early fall.
Mint plants grow in a wide variety of soils. They enjoy a soil pH of 6.5 to 8.5. The plants want to be constantly moist and will not tolerate drought well. A sunny location is ideal, mint will also survive well in partial shade. The plants are extremely invasive and control is often impossible. Plant the mint plants in an area where active invasion will not pose a problem to other plants, or choose to grow mint plants in containers, where it does well both outside or in a sunny window indoors.
Seeds, Cuttings and Roots
Mint plants grow from seeds but they often do not grow true to the parent plant. Use root divisions or cuttings, which are sold by many garden stores and mail order nurseries, to grow the most successful and healthy mint plants. Plant the root divisions and cuttings at a depth of 1 inch in potting soil in small containers. Place in a sunny window or sunny location outside and await top growth. Keep constantly moist for optimum growth.
Space mint plants at least 3 inches apart. Planting in rows in a garden setting is often ideal. Space rows at least 24 inches apart. Placing the plants inside containers within the soil is an excellent way to contain their vigorous growth and spread.
To encourage the mint plant to bush out and produce abundant foliage, pinching is required. Simply pinch back the top leaves of young plants as they grow. Only remove the top two leaves when pinching.
Harvest pinch plants by cutting away the foliage two inches above the soil line. Never remove all the mint plants' leaves. Remove only the top leaves as needed. A fully grown mint plant is capable of withstanding harvesting up to three times during the summer months. Promptly refrigerate mint leaves. They will normally stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to four days before wilting.
Dig up mint plants every three years and divide them. Take the roots and transplant the plants into new locations or containers. Mint plants withstand transplanting and division well. If the plants are not divided very three years, the top growth will begin to decrease.