Mint is a perennial herb that grows from 24 to 36 inches tall and is easily recognized by its dark green oval-shaped leaves and distinctive pleasant scent. Because of its hardy nature, it is an excellent plant for the first time gardener, and once you know a few tips on growing mint, you will be ready to start your own.
Mint may be used fresh or dried to use later. When drying, cut stems 2 to 3 inches with the leaves still on the plant. Wash the leaves and stems, inspecting and removing any bugs or darkened, damaged leaves. Lay mint on paper towels and pat dry with another paper towel. Hang mint upside down in a warm place out of sunlight to finish drying. Once mint has thoroughly dried, remove leaves from the stem and store them in an airtight bottle or jar until needed.
Start mint plants from cuttings in spring or fall. Put new cuttings into a container of water, and place near a sunny window until roots begin to show. Once roots are established, place young plants into small containers filled with potting soil, and allow plants to grow until they are established and ready to be transplanted outdoors or into larger pots.
Mint leaves may be harvested in as little as 60 days after planting. Snip leaves with a small pair of scissors, and use as a festive garnish with dinners or to make tea. To keep mint producing throughout the summer, flowers should be removed from the plants before they can bloom. If a second crop is desired, cut the plants down to about 2 or 3 inches from the ground at midseason. This will normally result in another round of growth for the mint plant and leaves can then be harvested again.
Plant mint 12 to 18 inches apart ,and space the rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Keep in mind that it is an invasive herb, and once it becomes established it will spread. Some spreading may be controlled by using an edging strip around the around the area for use as a barrier. Mint may also be planted inside a container without a bottom that can be buried at least 10 inches underground. It is usually best, however, to just devote a certain section of the garden for it so it can grow where it wants to, or if space is a problem, simply grow it in containers instead.
There are over 3500 varieties of mint ranging from the most common peppermint to more unusual types of mint such as, chocolate, pineapple and apple. Try growing different types to see which you prefer, then blend them together to create different flavors of tea.