Mints belong to the Labiatae family with many other herbs, including basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Of the actual Mentha spp., there are 19 or so distinct species and many crosses. Two of the most popular are peppermint ( Mentha piperita ) and spearmint ( Mentha spicata ). But other mints exist as well, such as apple mint, English mint, orange mint, and even chocolate mint.
Mint plants are propagated by either cuttings or division. Mint runners can be removed and transplanted or passed along to share with friends.
The refreshingly aromatic leaves are dark green, small and pointed, with slightly notched margins. The small flowers can be off-white, bluish, or violet. Both the leaves and flowers can be added to many dishes including desserts, beverages, meat, salads, as well as jellies and sauces.
Planting and Care.
While is one of the easiest herbs to grow, its strength is also its downside; it grows rapidly, sending out runners everywhere and can become weedy if left unchecked. To avoid having the rest of your garden overrun with mint, plant it in containers.
As your plant grows, mint leaves can be harvested as needed. Leaves and flowers can be used freshly picked from the garden or dried and stored for later use. Mint is considered a tender-leaf herb, meaning that the leaves have a high moisture content. As a tender-leaf herb, mint needs to be dried somewhere with darkness and low humidity or the leaves will turn dark and moldy.
Mint grows best in soils that retain moisture and prefers light or part shade in Florida. Space plants about 12 inches apart to give them room to spread and grow.
For more information on growing mint and other herbs contact your local county Extension office.
You don’t have to be a fan of lamb or mojitos to love the scent and flavor of mint. Having it nearby in the garden attracts bees and allows you to access that zippy aroma and refreshing flavor for teas, seasonings, pest repellent, and even household deodorizing. Growing mint from seed is easy and the little plants really take off once installed in a garden bed. Here are a few tips on starting mint seeds so you can enjoy these fragrant herbs in your landscape.
Mint is a culinary herb of the Mediterranean and Asian regions. It is featured prominently in many recipes from savory to sweet and even in beverages. It is a hardy perennial herb and grows quickly, often becoming invasive. There are over 3,500 varieties with special characteristics which makes variety selection important. Once you have your cultivar, sowing mint seeds at the right time will ensure a big, beautiful crop of this versatile herb.
Once seedlings have two sets of true leaves, harden them off and plant them into beds or outdoor containers. Once the little plants are ready to transplant, take containers outdoors and let them acclimate for a week to outdoor conditions before moving them.
When to Plant Mint Seeds.
You can start sowing mint seed in containers or flats or in prepared garden soil. Sow seeds ¼ inch (6 mm.) deep. The seeds are tiny, but you can space them with a seed injector or simply thin the seedlings once germinated. Expect germination in 10 to 15 days.
Keep flats in a warm location and soil lightly moist but not soggy. A cover over the flat can speed germination. Remove it once you see sprouts. If starting mint seeds outdoors, sow seeds on the surface of prepared soil and cover with a light layer of vermiculite.
You can also grow mint in containers and start indoors at any time. The key to growing mint from seed is well-draining soil that mimics the natural soils of the plant’s native region. Mint prefers slightly acidic, moist, rich soil.
Apply fertilizer in early spring. A balanced plant food with a 16-16-16 ratio is ideal. Do not over fertilize, as it can diminish oil production and lead to disease issues.
If you wish to transplant the seedlings outside in spring once soil has warmed, the seeds need to be planted in late winter. In warmer regions, they can be directly sown into prepared garden soil in mid-spring. However, because this is a hardy perennial, they can also be started any time up until two months before the first expected frost.
Water new plants regularly. Ideally, mint needs 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) of water per week during the growing season. Use drip irrigation or water in the morning to allow leaves to dry. Overly wet leaves may lead to fungal diseases.
How to Plant Mint Seeds.
Mint can be aggressive so it may be best to plant it in containers or in an out of the way area of the garden. Alternatively, you can let it ramble around where human contact will release the oils and perfume the area with a heavenly scent.
For spring planting , mint seeds can be started indoors in late winter or direct-sown in the warm spring soil. But as a hardy perennial , they can be started anytime until about 2 months before the first frost of fall, or year-round for indoor use.
Growing Tips for Mint Plants.
To sow the seeds outdoors , place them on top of well-worked soil, then sprinkle a fine layer of vermiculite on top of them. If you are sowing directly into the garden, consider placing a row cover over the seeds until they sprout.
Pests and Problems to Watch For.
When to Start Mint Seeds.
Choosing a Mint Variety.
Perfect for beginning gardeners, mint is the easiest of all herbs to grow , a perennial hardy in zones 4-9. In addition to flavoring food and drinks, it serves as a natural pest deterrent in the vegetable, herb, or flower garden, and chewing the leaves not only freshens the breath but is said to calm an upset stomach.
Native to the Mediterranean, the genus Mentha has parented more than 3,500 varieties . By far the most commonly grown in this country are Spearmint (M. spicata) and Peppermint (M. x piperita) . Both are super easy to grow, taking off like crazy to perfume home or garden all season!
How to Start Mint Seeds.
To sow the seeds indoors , place them on top of the Bio Sponge in your Bio Dome, or on top of the medium in your seed flat. Do not cover the seeds ; they need light to germinate. They should sprout within 10 to 15 days at room temperature or slightly warmer (68 to 75°F). Transplant into the garden or container when they have at least 2 sets of true leaves.
Mint’s greatest advantage — its utter ease of growth — is also one of its biggest problems. Do not plant it in an area where other plants must compete for space. If you want it in the garden but without the rapid spread, set it into a container instead, and use a saucer at the base to prevent the roots from growing into the soil below.