Most of us are familiar with spearmint and peppermint, some of the common mint plants. There are many other mint species, hybrids, and cultivars. They include chocolate mint, apple mint, citrus mint, black-stem peppermint, lavender mint, pineapple mint, etc. The basic features of a mint plant include opposite leaves, square stems, and lipped flowers. Above all, these plants have a refreshing fragrance. Used for various culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic purposes, mint is commonly found in herb gardens.
The name mint is used to denote members of the Mentha genus of the family Lamiaceae. This family consists of around 25 species of mint plants. Apart from that, there are hundreds of hybrids and cultivars of mint. If you are a mint lover, you may grow some of these plants at home. This will ensure a fresh supply of mint throughout the year. These plants require less maintenance, and they grow fast. As they have a tendency to spread, mint plants are often grown in containers. They can be grown indoors too.
- Mint being an invasive species, can be an excellent ground cover. If you cannot afford their uncontrolled growth, then it will be better to grow them in containers.
- Mint plants thrive well in locations with full sun and well-drained, but moist soil. Even dry soil may not affect the growth of mint, but in such cases, the leaves are found to be less fragrant.
- Get some mint seedlings from nurseries or garden stores. Early spring is the best time to plant mint. In case of soil a bed, plant the seedlings at a minimum distance of 15 to 18 inches.
- Some people remove the bottom part of the container, and insert the whole container inside the soil, with the rim outside. Mint plants are grown inside the rim. This prevents the uncontrolled spread of this herb to some extent.
- You have to ensure that the soil remains moist, till the seedlings get established. You may also resort to mulching, so as to retain moisture. This will also help the soil from getting splattered on the leaves during rains.
- There is no restraint on harvesting the leaves of the mint plant. As they are very aggressive in growth, you may harvest as many leaves as possible, and this will not harm the plant.
- It is always better to pinch off the tips of the plants, so that they grow bushy, with more shoots. Even removal of the flowers is said to be beneficial for growth of new shoots.
- Even though feeding is not required for mint plants, you may apply a small amount of bone meal, twice a year. Diseases and pests are rarely seen in these plants. If the leaves develop spots and blemishes due to fungal infection, remove and destroy them.
Growing these plants at home ensures a fresh supply of mint leaves throughout the year. You may also dry and store these leaves for future use. Some of the mint hybrids and cultivars may require certain specific conditions to grow. If you have further queries, contact the local nursery authorities or a horticulturist.