Spearmint Plant

Spearmint Plant

The edible spearmint is highly valued for its curative benefits. Read this article to learn all about this wonder herb; its care and uses.
Gardenerdy Staff
The spearmint plant belongs to the mint genus and is one of the many species and varieties of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. Native to Europe and southwest Asia, spearmint is botanically known as Mentha spicata, and presently has a very diverse growth distribution, they can be found across most regions of the world, due to extensive early cultivation. History of this plant dates back to nearly 5,000 years ago to ancient Egypt and India. It has always been more popular than its relative, the peppermint.

The spearmint comes from the spicata, a species that grows between 30-100 cm tall. The foliage is bright green, with each leaf about 6 cm long, with a serrated margin and markings. The stems are wide branching and slender, with microscopic hair. At the end of the stems, one can find 2-3 mm long slender spikes, with either pink or white flowers, that eventually turn into seeds.

How to Plant Spearmint

Being hardy perennial plants, these plants are very easy to grow. Like all members of the mint family, they are non-fussy and care required is minimal. Mint plants can be very easily propagated from its runners, or one can pick up a healthy sapling from a plant nursery. They are preferably grown in pots and containers, as a single plant tends to spread rapidly, and if left unchecked, it has the capacity to be quite invasive to other plants.

The spearmint grows well in full sunlight, but if you plan to grow them indoors, then use fluorescent lighting. They prefer well drained non-logging soil within the pH range of 5.0 and 7.0. Select a sunny spot, de-weed the soil, and plant either the sapling, cuttings or through division of root balls. Water the mint well, not excessively, just enough to keep the soil moist. Once established, pinch off the main shoot, to encourage lateral growth. As the mint begins to grow and spread itself, keep pruning off the long soft stems. longer stems tend to narrow the aromatic mint leaf. Pest and diseases are not an issue with this plant. Rarely will one find an infestation. However, if you do, pull out all the plants and replant using healthy runners. The roots are susceptible to rot due to excessive watering, hence, water cautiously.

Uses

Spearmint is primarily cultivated and harvested for its aromatic leaves. Spearmint oil is used for a variety of things, for flavoring teas, ice creams, liqueurs, and the leaves as a garnish in food preparations, medication to soothe upset stomachs, and toothaches. It is a very common curative and antibacterial ingredient found in toothpastes too. Spearmint chewing gum is also quite popular among the masses, especially for refreshing the breath.

Now that you know how to grow and use spearmint, a healthy growth will ensure that you have this herb fresh at hand whenever you want, and what's even better is that they can be dried or frozen, but they do not leave their aromatic essence.