The hardest thing about growing mint in the herb garden is choosing from over 600 varieties of mint that are available. The second hardest thing will be keeping the mint from taking over the garden and then the lawn. To keep mint plants within the space designated to them in the garden, plant them right in the container, leaving about an inch of the container above the ground. This will keep the roots from reaching out and allowing the plant to spread.
Spearmint grows well in any kind of soil, but it grows slowly the first year, and may not produce a lot until the second year. Plant it in full sun and give it plenty of water until the plant is well-established. Spearmint grown from seed tastes a bit harsher than spearmint grown from a cutting.
The purple leaves of the peppermint are very strongly flavored. Extracted oil from the peppermint plant is used in candies, liqueurs and chocolates. Because peppermint is a sterile hybrid, it doesn't produce seeds. The herb can be planted in full or partial sun. If the plant doesn't get enough sun, it will get spindly. Peppermint prefers rich, drained loamy soil.
Apple mint makes a delightful iced tea, and is also used in cooking, for jams and jelly. The apple-green leaves of the apple mint will contrast nicely with other garden herbs. Plant apple mint in moist soil. It will grow well in partial shade to full sun as long as it gets enough moisture.
Licorice mint tastes a lot like Anise hyssop. The spikes of flowers are easy to dry for later use and make beautiful additions to herbal crafts. The silvery-green foliage of licorice mint smells as good as it looks. Plant licorice mint in full sun. The shrubby herb will grow up to 3 feet high. When allowed to flower, it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
The deep dark green leaves of the chocolate mint will add visual interest to the herb garden, as well as giving off an aroma of chocolate liqueur. Many people use it to make organic chocolate mint ice cream, and a couple of leaves at the bottom of the cup will flavor coffee. Plant chocolate mint in full sun to partial shade. When the stems get woody, remove them and let the new growth take over.
Basil mint is a lot easier to grow than regular basil, and is interchangeable in recipes like pesto. Keep cutting the basil mint back, not letting it flower until finished harvesting the leaves. The flowers can be dried for herbal gifts and decorations.
Tip for Growing Mint
Prevent the mint plant from flowering by frequent cuttings. The beautiful flowers will appear after harvesting and can be dried for ornamental use.