Are you looking to add fresh flavor to your summer drinks or dishes? Look no further than the trusty herb garden staple: mint!
Not only is mint easy to grow, but it’s also incredibly versatile, adding a burst of cool, refreshing flavor to everything from cocktails to salads.
Mint belongs to the Mentha genus, which includes more than a dozen species.
Mint is a popular herb; you’ve probably had it in food or drink. Think a mojito, lamb with mint sauce, or spearmint gum.
Some favorite types of mint include:
- Chocolate mint
- Pineapple mint
- Apple mint
- Lavender mint
People have used mint for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries. It is known for its refreshing, cooling flavor and aroma.
In addition to its uses in the kitchen, mint is also known for its health benefits. It contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium.
So, why grow mint?
1. It’s Easy To Grow!
Growing mint is a breeze whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a total newbie to gardening.
With a few simple steps and a little TLC, you can enjoy a steady supply of this delicious herb all season.
Mint’s preferences include:
- Well-draining soil
- Acidic soil
- Partial to full sunlight
- Moist soil but good drainage
Just because mint likes those things doesn’t mean it has to have all of those to grow well.
Mint is pretty forgiving. You can even forget to water it regularly, and it’ll keep right on growing.
Overall, mint is a hardy plant that can thrive in various growing conditions. With just a little care and attention, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh mint all season long.
2. It Grows Well In Containers
Mint can grow to become invasive, spreading quickly throughout your garden beds.
To prevent that, you can plant your mint in well-draining containers. Place them strategically around your yard and enjoy!
You can even grow your mint in pots inside your house. You will want to put it in a sunny location by a window for the best results.
But mint is also great to grow because you don’t need to grow it in a container. Consider planting mint if you’re interested in an untamed garden bed or have a lawn patch where nothing seems to grow.
It’ll be fragrant and green – just make sure you have a barrier to keep the mint’s roots from overtaking everything!
3. It Smells Great!
Mint smells so good because of the essential oils contained within its leaves. These oils give mint its distinct aroma and flavor and are responsible for many of its therapeutic properties.
The main chemicals found within mint are menthol and menthone.
4. It Can Be Harvested Continuously
It’s hard to over-harvest mint. You can practically pick as much mint as you want as long as you leave a little of the plant intact in the garden.
Harvesting mint regularly can help encourage bushy growth and prevent the plant from becoming too leggy or straggly.
When harvesting mint, picking the leaves in the morning when the essential oils are most concentrated is best.
Pinch off the tips of the stems, just above a pair of leaves, to encourage branching and bushy growth. You can harvest entire stems or cut the plant back to the ground to promote new growth.
5. It’s Useful In Many Recipes
Mint is superb in many different dishes, as well as some drinks.
Sure, you can use mint as a lovely garnish, but there are plenty of other things to try with mint:
- Add to salad greens for a surprising burst of flavor.
- Make mint pesto for pasta for a new twist on an old favorite.
- Muddle fresh mint leaves with lime juice and simple syrup, and then add rum and club soda for a refreshing mojito.
- Mix chopped mint into your brownie batter for a delicious treat.
6. It Has Health Benefits
While you should talk to your doctor before using mint for its purported health properties, people have used mint for centuries for many conditions:
- Digestive health, such as reducing nausea
- Respiratory health, with menthol reducing coughing and clearing sinuses
- Stress relief, including decreasing anxiety
- Oral health, from improving bad breath to battling gingivitis
7. It Encourages Pollinators
Mint can be a great plant to encourage pollinators in your garden!
Mint produces small flowers attractive to many pollinators, including bees and butterflies. You can help support these important insects and promote a healthy ecosystem by planting mint plants in your garden.
In most cases, you don’t need pesticides to grow mint. That’s great news for your local pollinators. Pesticide usage can devastate honeybee populations.
To encourage more pollinators in your garden, allow the mint to produce its tiny flowers in mid to late summer. Don’t worry about deadheading your mint until the blooms have entirely faded.
8. It Discourages A Variety Of Pests
Mint has been well-known for its ability to repel some insect pests.
Some of the insects that seem to dislike mint include:
There are a few ways you can try to deter pests with mint.
Start by planting your mint around problem areas. Containers with mint can be a great decoration on your patio and help fend away mosquitoes.
You can even crush mint leaves up and sprinkle them around plants that might be affected by aphids or other insects. That’ll help keep them away.
You can also use fresh mint to make a “mint spray.”
Steep a handful of fresh mint leaves in boiling water for several hours, strain the liquid, and then add it to a spray bottle. Spray the mint solution around your outdoor living areas to repel mosquitoes and other pests.
Growing mint has many potential benefits for you, your garden, and your kitchen. This easy-to-grow herb can be used in many dishes and is delicious to you (and pollinators). With its fresh and fragrant scent and its many uses and benefits, mint is an excellent addition to any garden.