Mint Plant (Mentha spp) is a fast-growing hardy perennial herb with a strong pungent fragrance. It is a member of the “mentha” genus and belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which also includes 24 other species of aromatic herbs. Most varieties of the mint plant’s leaves are greenish in color and have jagged edges.
Just like all other members of its genus, the mint plant has a square stem with opposite-facing leaves. Their flowers are small, white or purple in color, and bloom during the summer season. Their blooms attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. It is considered an invasive plant as it has the tendency to grow aggressively if not controlled.
The mint plant is native to northern America, southern Africa, Australia, and Eurasia. They can grow to a height of about 1–2 feet, which makes them suitable to be used as balconies, covers, or border plants. It is also used in cooking, as a home freshener, and in herbal medicine.
|Scientific name||Mentha spp.|
|Common name||Mint plant.|
|Origin||North America, southern Africa, Australia, and Eurasia.|
|Size||Between 1 to 2 feet high.|
|Lighting||Partial shade. Can also survive full sun.|
|Soil||Moist but also well-draining soil.|
|Temperature||65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit ( 18 – 21 degrees Celsius).|
|Fertilizer||Well Balanced slow-release fertilizer.|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats and dogs.|
Mint Plant Care
The mint plant is a hardy perennial plant that’s easy to maintain. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, directly in the soil, or as a bonsai plant. No matter the manner in which it is grown, there are certain conditions that need to be met for healthy growth.
Most mint plants perform better when grown in partial shade to full sun. Depending on the variety, some might tolerate full sun provided they are watered frequently, while others will prefer to be placed in shaded areas. Variegated varieties may lose their variegation if exposed to full sun for an extended period of time.
While growing indoors, consider placing your variegated mint plant close to an east-facing window so it can catch the morning sun and be shaded against the afternoon sun.
Mint plants love soil that’s rich in nutrients and also well draining. Increase the soil’s pH level by adding organic compost to it because mints prefer soil that’s slightly acidic to neutral.
Avoid waterlogged soil at all costs, as it can cause root rot. Add perlite to your soil mix to improve air and nutrient movement. Also, use large containers as the mint plants like to spread.
The best time to water your mint will be in the early hours of the day. The number of times you will need to water the mint plant per week will depend on how fast the soil dries. Never allow the soil to go dry completely. Therefore, always water the plant as soon as you notice the soil is dry.
Overwatering the soil can cause wilting of leaves and root rot. Also, ensure the soil has good drainage with holes at the bottom of the pot.
For mints grown in pots, use a well-balanced fertilizer or organic manure diluted to half its strength to feed the soil during the growing season. You can also eliminate the need to feed the plant by mixing organic compost with your potting mix before planting the mint.
For those grown outdoors, if you have nutrient-rich soil, you do not need to fertilize.
Temperature And Humidity
Mint plants love a warm and humid environment to grow and are also adaptable to most household temperatures. Some hardy perennial mint plants can withstand very low temperatures and still produce fresh foliage.
The ideal temperature range for growing the mint plant is around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18–21 degrees Celsius).
Keep humidity above 50% when growing indoors, and use a pebble tray for those grown in containers outside.
The spicy-scented leaves of the mint plant are the major reason why most people cultivate it. When a mint plant starts blooming, it focuses its energy on producing more flowers, thus resulting in fewer fragrant leaves.
Prune the plant by cutting the stems about halfway. This will eliminate the buds at the tip of the plant, thereby making the plant focus its energy on growing more fragrant leaves.
Propagation of the mint plant can be carried out through stem cutting. This is a much easier and more cost-effective way of growing a new plant.
Start by using disinfected scissors to make a softwood cutting of about 4 to 6 inches in length. Gently cut off all the lower leaves, leaving 2 or 3 at the top.
Place the base of the stem cutting in a glass of water or in a nutrient-filled potting mix that drains well.
Move the plant to a well-lit area. If you choose to grow in soil, water the plant and keep the soil moist. When using water as a medium for rooting, ensure you change the water every two days.
Common Health Problems/Pests And Diseases
Mints are not known to harbor pests as a result of their pungent smell. Most pests, such as ants, mosquitoes, and spiders, are repelled away by just the smell.
Other pests that might still find their way to the mint plant and cause damage are aphids, thrips, and spider mites.
In order to handle this set of pests, use insecticidal soap mixed with water to spray the plant.
Yes. The leaves of mint plants are toxic to pets such as cats and dogs.
Yes. Mints are used to treat digestive problems. An example is peppermint oil, used to treat abdominal pain.
Provide your mint plant with partial shade. Place it in an eastern window so it can get enough early morning sunlight.
Yes. Leaves from mint plants can be eaten either raw or cooked. It is used in many dishes all over the world.
If your soil is rich in organic nutrients, there is no need to add additional fertilizer. If you are growing in containers, then use a soluble, well-balanced fertilizer diluted to half its strength to feed the plant.