Mint Condition – Grow and Use All Types of Mint!

I’m a self-proclaimed mint addict. At my herb farm in Old Fort, North Carolina I grow 13 different types of mint. They range from sweet to pungent. It’s one of the easiest herbs to grow and you can do it almost anywhere.

How to Grow Mint - Types of Mint

C’mon y’all, grow some mint!

Did you know that “mint” is a family of herbs that includes lavender and lemon balm? Yep, it is. To grow your own mint plants you must keep a few things in mind:

  1. they need at least four hours of sunlight a day, and more is better as long as they don’t dry out completely
  2. they tolerate most soil types – except areas where they may be submerged under water for long periods of time
  3. and most mints are drought tolerant once established, provided they get some moisture every week.

Most varieties of mint will survive winter quite well. In colder climates they tend to lose their leaves and hibernate underground until the soil warms up in the spring. Then they go crazy, growing almost overnight. Here in North Carolina, mints stay close to the ground, even changing color in some cases. Orange Mint turns a nice burgundy color during the winter, adding color to a dying landscape. And while the plants are not large, you can still harvest some leaves throughout the year.

Mints need space! Grow them in a container or raised bed for best results because they have a tendency to spread and take over. I have Curly Mint in my lawn that smells great when I mow. Can’t beat that!

So many types of mint!

So how many varieties of mint are there? No one really knows for sure, but we do know there are MANY. I grow the following varieties:

  • Orange Mint  as mentioned before, with rounded leaves that are scented with a sharp orange peel scent
  • Mountain Mint – a variety that is native to my area that gets about 3-4 ft tall and has a mild vanilla mint scent
  • Curly Mint – a spearmint scented mint with twisted leaves
  • Ginger Mint – smelling faintly of ginger, with rounded leaves that have a lighter colored vein in the center of the leaf
  • Chocolate Mint – yes, it smells and tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream!
  • Pineapple Mint – has fuzzy leaves that are often variegated with a cream colored edging, and it tastes and smells like pineapple
  • Apple Mint – smells like green apples
  • and of course Spearmint and Peppermint!

This year I added four new mints to my collection:

  • Grapefruit Mint – with a sharp bitter edge of grapefruit
  • Zazu’s Mystery – which is just like Chocolate Mint, but creeping
  • Reginald’s Mystery – a larger upright variety, similar in appearance to Zazu, but without the chocolate scent
  • Pennyroyal Mint – Pennyroyal is a specialty mint most often used for keeping insects off pets. It has a high amount of pugelone, a compound that may cause uterine contractions. For this reason, it should not be used by women that are pregnant or could become pregnant.

Most mints are stimulating, but in small amounts are safe for almost everyone. Pennyroyal is the only mint I know of that carries a warning.

I’ve ordered more mints, and I guess that exceeds 13, but then, who’s counting? One of the new ones I have coming soon is Candy Cane Mint – you guessed it, it smells and tastes like candy canes, that sweet peppermint that we can never forget. Another is Mojito Mint, with an edge of lime. This one is just right for those cool, delicious summer drinks. And I just got seeds for Lemon Mint. Lemon Mint is not a true mint, but does have similar characteristics. It’s actually a Monarda or Wild Bergamot – still in the family, but not an actual mint. I had a Black Peppermint plant a few years ago, but it died out, and finding a replacement has proven difficult.

Some others I’d like to try are Eau de Cologne Mint, Cat Mint, Catnip, Water Mint (the forerunner of Peppermint), Banana Mint and Lavender Mint. I’m sure there are many others that I haven’t mentioned. Maybe someday I’ll have them all!

Using your mint

One of my favorite treats is mint chocolate chip ice cream. But even better is an after dinner drink highlighted with mint. Different mints would add different flavors, but for the following recipe I used Curly Mint, which is one of the Spearmints.

Minty After Dinner Drink

You will need:

  • 6-7 mint sprigs, bruised
  • ½ cup alcohol (I use bourbon)

Drop the bruised mint into a jar and add the alcohol. Shake vigorously. Allow it to sit for a week in the sun, shaking every day. After a week, strain and bottle the alcohol. If you want a stronger mint flavor, repeat the process with the same alcohol, but use fresh mint.

The drink recipe:

In a tall glass, add about a tablespoon of organic cane sugar. Dampen it with a bit of water and add mint sprigs along the side. Add crushed ice to the top. Pour about a shot (1.5 ounces – more or less depending on your glass) and then a bit of Crème de Cacao. (If using Chocolate Mint, you can omit the Crème de Cacao.) Top off with some half and half. Upend a glass over the top and shake well. Add a straw and enjoy!

This drink doesn’t have a proper name – I made it up one evening when I had a lot of mint left after cutting it for drying.

Drying Mint

Mint dries very well and can be stored for about a year. Use it in tea, in your cooking, and in soap and other beauty products.

Try a few new kinds of mint this season and soon you’ll be in Mint Condition!

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photo by dinner series

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Comments

  1. Historical Town Seal Key on Main Way is where early flair meets the beach.
    Temperatures in spring and simply fall make ideal camping weather.

  2. I cannot tell you how much I love mint! I would eat it and use it every day if I could. And I love me some spearmint in particular. Sometimes I just smell my spearmint essential oil just because. I think my favorite way to have mint is on the top of some delicious pho. AMAZING!

  3. I will be moving and so excited about a mint free yard. My new mint will be in pots. But be careful, the roots can travel out the drainage holes and still spread! I am going to try putting screen in the bottom. I use mint in rice noodle dishes Korean style – yummy! And please forget about cat mint! It ends up being a huge messy weed of a bush and doesn’t smell nearly as nice as regular mint. And the cats aren’t that crazy about it …

  4. I grew mint on purpose for 1 year, now 5 years later I have been trying to get rid of it. It is in my vegetable garden and it is the biggest weed out there. I do enjoy using it, but not weeding it. Just be carefull where you plant it or it will take over.

    • I have heard if you bury a pot or barrier of some kind (W/drainage), that it will keep your mint contained as the roots cannot spread.

  5. Hi – now that you have jump started our passion for “mint” – don’t leave us hanging – let us know where or how to get different varieties of mint.
    I know because I live in the Republic of Panama getting the actual plants
    will be a problem but what about “seeds”?
    I like seeing your ad about sponsoring a child through Compassion International because l have been a sponsor for many years – congratulations – nice to see worth while ads not all that junk we are subjected to.

  6. I live on a farm in South Australia in an agricultural area, and have a big problem with mice.
    I have heard that mice are allergic to or dislike peppermint oil, and it is a natural way to keep them at bay. We have been putting peppermint oil in everything, and wiping down shelves and floors with it in an effort to keep them at bay naturally.
    Is there a specific type of mint that you would recommend to grow as a natural rodent deterrent? And would keeping it as an outdoor or indoor potted plant help, or would using dried mint be more effective?

    Thanks for the post- very interesting and timely for my predicament!

  7. Could someone tell me the best way to “brew” my mint leaves to make a good strong tea? I boil them and I think I’m probably killing all the benefits right out of them.

    Also, what does it mean to “bruise” your mint leaves?

  8. Is there a good place to order mint varietals? I only have plain.

    About dark circles under eyes: This can be caused by illness, such as a sinus infection or allergies or something else. Drinking mint might help, too! If illness is the cause, I am not sure if a topical would be helpful, but perhaps it would!

    • You might check out richters.com , a company in Canada. They have more kinds of mints listed than you can imagine! (They have a search bar in the top right of the page. Just type in “mint” and be amazed.) I’m sure there are other companies, too.

    • The circles under my eyes went away after I started making and eating Beef Liver from grass fed cows. I started eating liver regularly and not only did the dark circles go away but so did my fatigue. Who would have thought!!

  9. I just recently read on another blog that if you have dark circles you should mash up some mint and apply to the dark eye area (be careful not to get IN YOUR EYE of course). I haven’t tried it yet but would love to get rid of mine!