Taking Care of Mint Plants
Mint likes to be in full sun or partial shade.
Mint is bossy - you need to keep its roots away from other plants or it will kill them.
Mint likes to be kept damp and moist - use mulch, and keep the soil damp.
If the plant looks unhealthy, it is either getting too little water or too little sun. Move it, and change your watering habits. Mint recovers well.
Mint likes to be fed bonemeal once or twice a year.
Mint flowers should be removed asap, because otherwise you will get fewer leaves, which is the part you're wanting.
Mint's worst enemy is a disease called rust. You can spot it by seeing orange blobs under the leaves. Take affected leaves off immediately - you might have to sacrifice the whole plant to prevent it spreading to other mint plants.
Mint has loads of varieties, of which a few follow (this information and quotations selected from pantryherbs.com):
- Spearmint "One of the most intensely fresh mints, milder than peppermint, it is used in sauces, jellies, and teas."
- Chocolate mint "This herb has dark, rich foliage. It tolerates hot, dry conditions and is not as invasive as most mints. A nice desert mint!"
- Apple mint "Tall sturdy stems with large, fuzzy, grey-green leaves that smell slightly of apple"
- Peppermint "The most famous of all mints, it requires little care and makes excellent teas and candy.
Mint will reproduce easily - cut off a sprig (1cm above the junction) and leave it in a glass of water. After a little while some roots will start growing out. Wait till the roots are quite long and then plant in a fresh pot.
Mint likes to have its biggest leaves taken off, so that the smaller leaves get a chance to grow (big leaves hog the sunshine).
Mint runs out of space easily - approximately once per year you need to unplant it, separate it into quarters (especially the roots) and put each piece of plant into a separate pot.
Some of the things that mint has been used for medicinally:
- indigestion and a wide range of tummy problems (pop a couple of leaves in boiling water to make a tea!)
- muscle relaxant and anti-inflamatory
- breath freshener (is this really medicinal??)
- relieving nasal/sinus/chest congestion - helps with colds
- giving energy (replacement for caffiene)
- aids concentration
- Marinade fish
- Vegetables (put mint in the water used to steam the veggies)
- With potatoes or rice
- Make mint ice-cubes (a whole leaf in each cube)
Mint can also repel insects (flies and ants) and possibly also mice.
Pick it in sprigs after the dew has dried off.
Then you tie the sprigs together by the stems (use an elastic band) and put the bundle(s) in a brown bag to dry.
Hang the mint upside down to dry - it will take about 2 weeks.
When the leaves are brittle, put it on a sheet of wax paper and pull the leaves off (you don't want the stems).
Crumble the leaves, and store in a dry, dark environment.
You can also freeze the crumbled leaves (but make sure they don't get wet).
Mint can also be preserved in vinegar (or oil). Just put the fresh leaves into a bottle of nice vinegar and stand in the sun for two weeks, shaking gently every day to spread the flavour.
More detailed information:
Patrick de Penguin