University of Maryland Extension

Mint

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

peppermint in a container
Photo: Donna Koczaja
Peppermint
Mint

Mints have the justified reputation of being an aggressive grower and becoming a garden thug. To prevent that from happening, plant it in a 12-16”container.  Or plant it in a container (remove the bottom first) and bury it into the ground leaving about an inch of the container above the soil line. Clip any of the mint that outgrows the container to prevent it from rooting. 

Description

Peppermint is a perennial plant with spreading rootstalks and many upright stems 2’ or more in height. Its dark green leaves and reddish-tinged stems have a characteristic warm, spicy scent. Tiny purplish flowers appear in thick terminal spikes 1-3” long.

Culture

Peppermint does best in a rich, moist soil but adapts to most growing conditions. Propagate by division or cuttings. The plant will grow in sun or shade. Plant 18” apart.

Harvesting

The more frequently the sprigs are cut, the better the growth. Use leaves at any time. Leaves to be dried are best taken just as flowers begin to appear.

Use

The leaves are used in tea and for others flavoring. Oil from the plant is used in products such as chewing gum, confections, toilet water, soap and liqueur. 

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Description

This hardy perennial plant has pointed, slightly crinkled leaves that are lighter green in color than peppermint. The whole plant has a sweet characteristic smell.

Culture

Spearmint grows best in a somewhat moist soil and can be propagated by cuttings or division. Growth is enhanced by frequent cuttings.  Plant 18” apart.

Harvesting

Pick the fresh leaves and leafy stem tips for use any time. For drying it is best to cut leaves just as the flowering begins.

Use

Spearmint leaves are used to flavor cold drinks, in teas, and to make mint sauce. The oil is used in confections. 

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