The mint plant (Mentha) is a hardy, perennial herb grown for its leaves, which have a variety of culinary uses, including mint sauce for roast lamb, herbal tea infusions, as garnishes and in salads such as tabouli.
There are several varieties eg. peppermint (Mentha piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens variegata), orange mint (Mentha piperita citrata) and apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).
The plant grows vigorously in sun or partial shade. It should be treated as a weed for that reason. It is recommended that you grow it in pots rather than in garden beds as it can quickly take over the garden bed.
Why Grow Mint?
Due to its strong scent, it attracts beneficial insects and repels pests, including fleas, mosquitoes and mice.
Besides having beautiful ornamental leaves, it provides a number of health and medicinal benefits. It helps to relax muscles, soothes indigestion, acts as a mild decongestant and freshens breath.
It also helps that it grows quickly both indoors and outdoors, so it’s easy to pick some every now and then without running out.
- Insects – It is usually quite vigorous and strong. Occasionally, it may be attacked by aphids, spider mites, mint root borers and cutworms.
- Fungal diseases – It can also be attacked by mint rust, verticillium wilt and anthracnose.
There aren’t many things that can go wrong when growing mint as it requires minimal care. The one mistake to watch out for is planting mint into a garden bed. Mint is invasive as it sprouts runners. Mint will overtake a garden bed and smother other plants in no time if it is not controlled.
Watering: Keep the soil moist by watering it roughly every 3 to 4 days.
Light: It can grow in full sun and partial shade. Roughly 6 hours of direct sunlight a day will keep them happy.
Temperature: Mint copes with winter when established although the leaves may die back a little. When the warmer months comes around, it’ll spring back to life again.
Soil: It prefers slight acidic to neutral soil which is rich.
Fertilizer: It is not necessary to feed it. However, if you would like to, you can give it an occasional dose of all-purpose, water soluble fertilizer at half strength. Over-fertilizing cause it to lose its flavor.
Pruning: Pruning is not necessary if you are harvesting it regularly. However, be sure to keep the runners in check and ensure that it does not choke other plants.
Propagation: It is easy to propagate from cuttings, or just uproot a plant after it has spread via runners. It is also easy to grow it from seeds.
It is not toxic to humans. However, if used in essential oils, it is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. If a lot is ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.