Oh, mint. Back in the early days, Chocolate mint was the first herb I started selling, and look at our selection now!
Yes, all kinds. You may come to wish that it was an annual…
Sun vs Shade?
Mint will grow best in full sun. It can take a few hours of shade a day, but keep in mind that more shade will make it leggy and stretchy.
Growing mint– in the ground, or in pots?
The best advice I can offer regarding mint is to grow it in large planters, and to consider replacing it every few years if you have it in the ground and allow it to flower. Mint is probably the easiest thing under the sun to grow: plant it, ignore it, and then be astounded at how it has overtaken your backyard, and part of your neighbor’s as well. Mint will spread! If you do plant it in the ground, supervise it heavily. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep it cut back and neatly trimmed. Mint spreads very easily: where its branches touch the ground, they will grow roots. Luckily, mint is very forgiving as well. If it starts getting out of hand cut as much off as you can find, and don’t be afraid to rip the runners out with your bare hands.
I also suggest replacing your mint if you have several different kinds that you allow to flower because mint cross breeds and self-seeds quite easily, and the resulting mutant mints can have atrocious flavor.
If this sounds absolutely frightening to you, consider a container garden. Plant your mints in large pots or planters and arrange around your deck or patio, or put the pots in the garden and allow surrounding plants to hide the pot. We’re offering all seven of our mints in a pair of neat little planters, if you’re so inclined.
Like I mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to cut back your mint. You can cut them almost to the ground and they’ll still put out new leaves and stems. Trim them regularly to give them a nice shape– they grow fast and can become leggy.
If you are trying to remove a mint from your garden, dig it up instead of trying to cut it off at ground level.
Use different flavored mints for tea, other beverages (like juleps and mojitos), cooking and baking, and in potpourri.
Finally, the big question that I get every year: I just want ‘mint’. When I go to the grocery store, they have pre-packaged ‘plain’ mint. Why don’t you have that??
There is no such thing as ‘plain mint’. What you find fresh in the grocery store is either spearmint or peppermint, and is not properly labeled. (Some ‘mint’ flavorings in the baking aisle are a mix of both spearmint and peppermint extracts- check the ingredient panel.) There is a big difference between the two! Think about chewing gum, or candy. Peppermint pinwheels, candy canes, peppermint chewing gum– those all more-or-less accurately reflect the cool, sweet taste of fresh peppermint. Think about how differently spearmint gum or candies (usually the green-striped pinwheels) taste.
A lot of baking recipes call for peppermint because it is sweeter, while cooking recipes usually call for the more pungent spearmint; good recipes specify which mint you should purchase. If you’re still unsure of what you want, just rub the leaves between your fingers and smell them, and choose the one you like more or think is more suited to your intended use. If you don’t like the way it smells or tastes, don’t use it!
Banana: Bright green leaves, slightly hairy and coarse. Scent is banana with a hint of (in my opinion) citrus or pineapple. Very clean, fruity scent without any mintiness, unlike the other fruit flavored mints. Low-growing, will spread sideways rather than up. (Herb book says 4-20 inches tall, I’m betting on the lower end of that from what I’m seeing so far.) Light purple flowers.
Applemint: Leaves are large, more rounded, and very fuzzy. Granny Smith apple-green in color, with an apple-spearmint scent. The biggest of our mints, with leaves that can easily grow as wide as your hand! 16-36 inches tall.
Chocolate: Smooth, green leaves; closely resembles peppermint in appearance and flavor, but has a chocolate overtone. Think York peppermint patties. 12-36 inches tall.
‘Moroccan’ Spearmint: The best spearmint I’ve ever tasted– no harsh overtones, just perfect crisp spearmint flavor with a hint of sweetness. Highly recommended! Brighter, lighter green leaves than the normal spearmint, but still quite crinkly and textural. Upright growth, will form a nice mound if trimmed regularly. 12-36 inches tall.
Spearmint: A good standard spearmint. Bright dark green leaves, smooth rather than fuzzy but very textured and crinkled-looking. 12-36 inches tall.
Orange: A little on the harsh/bitter side but still usable for cooking. Dark green, smooth, and slightly rounded leaves. Flavor is open to debate– I think it’s like a combination of orange and spearmint. Leaves are somewhat similar to peppermint/chocolate mint in color and glossiness, but are rounded rather than pointed. 12-36 inches tall.
Peppermint: Refreshingly cool and sweet. Classic peppermint flavor. Smooth green leaves, 12-36 inches tall.
Pineapple: Soft variegated green and white leaves make this mint an attractive addition to the garden. Scent is fruity, like pineapple combined with spearmint. Floppy, will trail a bit from planters or containers. 16-24 inches tall.
To see all 2010 plants, check the Complete List of Varieties.