There are several varieties of mint grown in the home herb garden, including apple mint, spearmint and peppermint. Mint plants are attractive in containers as well as planted in the herb garden. The aromatic flavor of mint is enjoyed in sauces, desserts and teas, as well as in flavorful rubs for meat dishes. Caring properly for mint at home ensures this perennial herb thrives in the garden and continues to produce well for many years.
Water mint plants at least once a week throughout spring and summer, keeping the soil moist at all times. Water at the base of the plants, taking care to minimize splashing onto the leaves. Wet leaves are more likely to become susceptible to fungal problems. Water until the top 6 inches of soil feels moist when you stick your fingers into it, or water potted mint until the excess moisture drains from the bottom of the pot.
Lay a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, around garden-planted mint. Mulching preserves soil moisture and also prevents weeds from growing in the mint bed.
Fertilize garden-planted mint in spring when the mint begins growing new leaves again. Apply 1 tsp. of 16-16-16 analysis fertilizer to the soil 3 to 5 inches away from the base of the plant and work it into the soil. Fertilize container mint in spring and summer, applying a soluble, balanced fertilizer once monthly following the label instructions.
Prune mint as needed throughout the growing season by cutting off no more than one-third of the growth with clean shears. Pruning helps the plant maintain its shape and improves air flow in the interior of the mint, which prevents disease. Plants that are frequently harvested may not require pruning.
Pinch off the flower buds as they form in summer. Allowing mint to blossom causes the leaves to lose much of their flavor. If you aren't growing mint as an herb, feel free to allow it to bloom.