Varieties of mint include peppermint, spearmint, apple mint and pennyroyal. Mint is very easy to grow, and has been used for centuries as a healing and culinary herb. Mint grows well in gardens and containers.
In Greek mythology, the underworld god Hades became enamored of the river spirit Minthe, and appeared to her in a golden chariot. Hades’ queen, Persephone, sabotaged the seduction by turning Minthe into an aromatic plant.
A perennial herb, mint (Mentha) grows wild on riverbanks and in moist soil, and will thrive in gardens and containers. With a little care, mint will easily grow indoors.
There are about 3,500 varieties of mint, including hybrids. The most popular are peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate mint, pennyroyal and bergamot (lemon, lime or orange mint). Catnip is a related member of the mint family.
The earliest use of mint was as a room freshener, spread liberally on dirt floors. The plant released its scent when someone crushed the leaves underfoot.
In herbal medicine, mint is used to ease indigestion and treat stomach pain. Mint is antipruritic to relieve itching from insect bites and rash, and may help repel insects such as ants. The refreshing aroma of mint can help clear the mind and stimulate the senses.
As a culinary herb, mint is used as a compliment to main dishes such as lamb, and in desserts and beverages. A handful of leaves in boiled water makes delicious mint tea. Mint is a flavoring in summer alcoholic beverages such as the grasshopper and mint julep.
Mint produces white or purple flowers on delicate spikes during the summer. The flowers are also edible, with a milder taste than the leaves.
How to Grow Mint
Mint can be started from seeds or cuttings, or from young plants bought at a nursery. Starting mint from seeds isn’t recommended because some varieties of mint are sterile, and mint has a variable nature. The best way to start mint is by taking a cutting from an existing plant, or by purchasing the sprouted seedlings.
Mint grows quickly and spreads runners, or stolons, throughout its growing area. The runners grow underground or just above ground, producing sprouts and roots of new plants. Runners usually extend horizontally from the parent plant. To start mint from a cutting, take a 4″-6″ (10-15 cm) section of runner from a healthy mint plant.
In the garden, plant mint cuttings or seedlings 12″ to 18″ (30-45 cm) apart. Water well. Because mint is fast-growing, it’s not hard to produce a substantial mint crop from a single plant. To control rampant rootgrowth in the garden, plant mint in bottomless containers. Next Page –>
Published in: Gardening