All about Mint and How to Plant it
There are many plants that must be grown in your kitchen garden. One of them is mint. This particular plant is very useful. Therefore, if you don’t have this herb in your home garden, you must plant it. Growing this herb is pretty easy if you know how to grow mint. Once you have this plant, you will be able to use it for various purposes.
Learn more about how to grow mint.
What You Must Know about Mint
Mint or Mentha is actually a genus of plants from the family of Lamiaceae. Therefore, you will find numerous mint species to grow. Different mint species have different usage. In addition, they also have slightly different characteristics. As a result, before you start the process of how to grow mint, you must know more about this plant.
1. Origin and History
Mint is originally from temperate regions in Asia and Europe. However, some species of this plant is indigenous to Africa, America, and Australia. This herb had been used for centuries by ancient civilizations. Mostly, it was used as medicine. But, it was also used as cosmetic and for cooking.
The name of this herb was derived from the name of Naiad-nymph in the Greek mythology, Minthe. She is the daughter of Cocytus, god of the river. One day, Persephone was jealous of this nymph. Then, she transformed Minthe into a plant, i.e. mint. The word mint itself means ‘green.’
2. Mint Plant Description
Mintis a perennial plant. It is considered as a small plant because its height is between 10 cm and 120 cm. However, it can be quite invasive. This plant spreads so quickly that it will affect your other plants. In consequence, when you are performing the steps of how to grow mint, you need to find ways to control it. If you don’t do it, be prepared to have a 130 cm long mint plant in a year.
This plant has small wrinkled leaves which color range from dark green to pale yellow. They have strong aroma. The compounds that produce this aroma are menthol and pulegone. These compounds don’t only give pleasant aroma to the leaves. They also produce cooling effect.
The stem of this plant is square. It will grow upward until its maximum height. After that, it will flop and spread its runners. Mint flowers are pink or white and blooms in the summer. Butterflies and bees will come to your garden when the plant is flowering.
The male flowers blooms before the female flowers. Moreover, the male ones are bigger than the female flowers. Cross pollination may occur between two different species of mint with the help of pollinators. If you want to grow different mint species, you must plant them in different spots and be sure they are far from each other.
Once the flowers are pollinated, you will likely see the mint fruits start to grow. They are called nutley. Inside them, you will find up to four seeds. You can germinate them if you want. However, growing mint from seeds is risky because the new plant may not have similar quality with the parent.
3. Growing Conditions
It is very essential for you to know the growing conditions required by this herb before you start the process of how to plant mint. Knowing these requirements will help you plant this herb successfully.
Mint loves to grow in moist but well drained soil. Originally, the habitat of this particular plant is wet areas, such along a river bank and an area near a lake. Moreover, the soil must be slightly acidic. Its pH level is between 6.5 and 7. To make sure that the soil in your garden has the right level of acidity, you must perform a soil test before planting this herb.
Most importantly, the soil must be rich in organic matter. Therefore, you need to fertilize the soil before planting. In addition, you also need to fertilize it during the mid-season. As a result, your mint plant always have enough nutrients to produce high quality leaves.
Another thing you need to consider is the type of the soil. Mint grows best in loamy soil. However, this plant is capable of adapting to various soil types.
Since mint originally grows in wet areas, it requires plenty of water. It is important to water the soil regularly and keep it moist. Some gardeners recommend morning watering, especially in summer. Therefore, the plant will get enough water in the afternoon when the temperature is hotter.
Mint may love water. But, it will suffer from root rot if the soil is too soggy. Therefore, you really need to water it properly. If you grow this plant in a pot indoors, you will likely need to water it more often than a mint plant that is planted directly to the ground.
This particular plant requires part to full sun in order to grow well. It can adapt well to a shady area. You don’t need to water it too much if you grow it in this kind of planting spot. Moreover, mint will grow well in a sunny area if you water it more frequently.
The hardiness level of this particular plant is different between one species to another. Some of them, such as peppermint, are cool hardy. But, others, such as spearmint, can adapt well in areas with warmer weather. In brief, this plant is suitable to USDA hardiness zones 3 to 11.
4. Mint Varieties
Mint species or varieties are quite numerous. As a result, you will likely get confused about which mint varieties to plant. They require different growing conditions. As a result, not all of them are right for you. To choose the right one, you need to consider their characteristics and the methods of how to grow mint.
These are some popular mint varieties to grow.
This species is one of the most common mint species to grow. When we are talking about mint in general, it is usually refers to spearmint. This particular species is also called Mentha viridis and Mentha spicata. It can grow up to 1 m tall. Moreover, it is also more invasive than certain species of mints. But, it can be solved easily.
This particular plant is pretty hardy. It will grow well in USDA hardiness zones 4a to 11. It takes about 90 days for the plant to mature. However, you can start the harvest earlier, when the plant is about 2 months. The leaves are great for various dishes, teas, jelly, and alcoholic drinks. Moreover, they are also used in personal care products.
This particular species is also known as Mentha piperita. It is a hybrid from spearmint and water mint. In addition, this is a sterile species. Therefore, it doesn’t produce seeds. As a result, the propagation of peppermint is only by stem cuttings.
You can plant peppermint in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 11. It can grow up to 1 m tall and pretty invasive. This plant has dark green leaves with reddish vein. They are considered to have better aroma and flavor than other species.
Peppermint leaves are usually used as garnish, added in salads and other cooking, and processed as essential oil. This oil will not only help you feel better and calmer. But, it is also great to repel rodent, pests, and insects.
This type of mint is scientifically named as Mentha suaveolens. Apple mint is vigorous. It can grow up to a meter tall and spread its runners everywhere. This plant prefers areas with full sun. In addition, it is suitable for USDA hardiness zone 5 to 11. The leaves are rounder than other mints. Moreover, it is hairy on the top surface.
The taste and aroma of this mint is a combination of apple and mint. They are mostly used for making teas, jelly, and couscous. Moreover, this plant has an attractive look. Therefore, it is also used for decorating the garden.
This species of mint is also known as Mentha piperita citrata. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 11. The leaves of this plant have tangier aroma and flavor compared to other mint varieties. However, they can make your pesto and salads taste more delicious. Moreover, they are also great for cocktails and lemonades.
This mint species has some brown marking on the leaves and stems. It is named chocolate mint because the color of the plant and its aroma. When you crush the leaves, you will smell a mix of mint and chocolate aroma.
Chocolate mint prefers shady and moist area to grow. It does not tolerate heat and full direct sun. Moreover, this plant is best planted in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 5. Its maximum height is about 60 cm. The leaves of chocolate mint are great for baking. You can make tasty chocolate cake with those leaves.
5. Benefits of Planting Mint Along with Other Plants
Before you start the process of how to grow mint, you need to know the best companion plants for it. Planting it in the same bed with certain plants will help give you some benefits. The scent of mint leaves can deter certain pests, such as flea beetles, root flu, and aphids. Therefore your other plants will grow healthier.
Moreover, mint flowers attract bees, butterflies, and birds to come to your garden. They will not only help the pollination of mint flowers. But, they will also help the pollination of other flowers in your garden. Therefore, you will have more chance to get better harvest of your crop.
Some of the best companion plants for mint are kale, cabbage, carrot, tomatoes, onions, peas, and even roses. However, it is important to remember that mint can be very invasive. Therefore, you must make sure that it does not disturb the other plants.
Learn more about how to grow asparagus.
How to Grow Mint
There are two ways of how to grow mint. You can grow it from seeds or from cuttings. If you want to propagate it from seeds, the best time for indoor germination is in late winter. But, if you want to sow them directly to the ground, the best time to do it is in the spring. Before you do it, make sure that the soil is warm enough and the danger of last spring frost has gone.
If you want to grow it from stem cuttings, the best time to plant mint is in the spring if you live in areas with cooler climate. But, if you live in warmer climate, you can plant it in the fall. In order to get these cuttings, you can ask for runners from your friends who grow it. You can also buy a small potted mint plant from nursery. When it is old enough, you can propagate it.
These are the steps of how to grow mint.
1. Germinating The seeds and Preparing The Cuttings
To germinate mint seeds, you need a seed pot and seed starting mix. Sow the seeds in this pot. But, don’t sow it too deep. It is recommended to sow it in 7 mm deep. Then, keep the seed starting mix moist and place the pot in a protected place. Moreover, you also need to keep the temperature around 21o C. It will take about 1 to 2 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
After the seedlings emerge, place the pot in a sunny window. You can also use fluorescent light. If you are using it, turn the light off at night for 8 hours. When the spring comes, you can transplant them to the ground or to bigger pots. Before that, you need to remember to harden the seedlings for a couple of days.
To propagate mint from stem cuttings, you must cut its stem below a node. After that, remove all the leaves, except the top ones. Next, you need to put it inside a jar filled with an inch of water.
You need to change the water everyday. Moreover, you must not expose the jar to direct sunlight so that the cuttings will develop the root successfully. It usually takes a week for the stem to grow roots.
When the seedlings or cuttings are big enough to be transplanted or when the temperature is warm enough, you can start the next step of how to grow mint, i.e. transplanting. But, before you do it, you need to prepare the planting site or the pots.
If you want to grow mint directly to the ground, you need to loosen the soil, about 20 cm deep. Mix the loose soil with compost if your soil is not rich in organic matter. Plant the seedlings with 45 cm space between them. Once you plant it, you must water it.
If you grow this herb in a pot, use high quality potting mix to fill in the pots. After that, you can transplant your seedlings or cuttings. Then, water the plant and place the pot in a shady area at first.
3. Taking Care of The Plant
This plant is pretty easy to care. You only need to fertilize it every two or three months. However, you need to make sure that the plant gets enough water and the soil stay moist. To maintain the moisture, you can add a thin layer of mulch on the soil around the mint plant.
It is important for you to prune the plant regularly. This will help you to control the invasive nature of this herb. Therefore, it won’t steal the nutrition of other plants. In winter, you can bring potted mint plant indoor to protect them from the cold.
You can harvest your mint leaves when the plant is about 8 cm tall. This herb requires regular harvesting to encourage growth. When you see the plant start flowering, you must cut its stem and leave only an inch of stem above the ground.
From the steps of how to grow mint above, it can be concluded that growing this herb is very easy. Therefore, you will not find big problems in doing it. However, you need to make sure that you have enough time to prune and control the growth of this plant.
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