All types of mint (including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint) are fast-growing, spreading plants, so you must give them a place to spread without getting in the way, or plant them in a pot. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green patches. In the right place it makes a pretty seasonal ground cover. You can also contain mint in tight places such as between pavers of a walkway where your feet will brush against the leaves to release its fragrance.
Bonnie Plants Chocolate Mint has a delightful minty chocolate flavor like the classic Girl Scout cookie. Chocolate mint thrives alongside water gardens or in damp spots in the yard. Lushest growth occurs in moist soil in partial shade. Crush fresh leaves into water for a refreshing beverage, or add to tea or coffee. You can also dry leaves for flavoring desserts, like ice cream, meringues, quick breads, or cakes. Pick leaves frequently. Plants open lavender blooms in late summer. Tolerates light frost.
Type Perennial in zones 3 to 11
Planting time After last frost in spring or in fall (up to 2 to 3 weeks before first frost in cold zones)
Features Green leaves with strong menthol flavor
Light Full sun to part shade
Soil Fertile, moist
Spacing 18 to 24 inches apart
Plant size 24 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide
Garden use Herb gardens, beside water gardens, or in containers
Culinary use Use leaves fresh, dried, or frozen in water
Light requirements: Full sun to part shade. Protect plants from hot afternoon sun in southerly zones.
Planting: Space 18 to 24 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Nutrient-rich, moist soil is ideal, although mint grows in nearly any type of soil. Amend soil with organic matter, such as compost.
Water requirements: Mint thrives in moist to slightly soggy soil. Consider planting mint near downspouts or in low, damp spots in your yard.
Frost-fighting plan: Mint is perennial in zones 3 to 11. Plants tolerate light frosts, but eventually die back to the ground in all but the warmest zones. If you need plants to survive a light frost, cover them with a frost blanket. Protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts.
Common issues: Mint can quickly overrun a planting bed, spreading by above- and underground stems. Keep it in check by planting in containers or beds bordered by sidewalk or driveway, or by planting in partially submerged pots in planting beds. Leaf flavor turns bitter when flower buds appear. Mint is generally pest-free.
Harvesting: Pick mint leaves at any point in the growing season. For strongest flavor, harvest leaves at midday when essential oil concentrations are strongest. Gather individual leaves or clip leafy stems. Plants branch freely from just below where you snip stems, so place cuts to prune and shape plants.
Storage: Store mint stems at room temperature in a water-filled jar; use within a week for freshest flavor. Stems root easily in water. For longer storage, dry or freeze leaves.
Quick Guide to Growing Mint
- Plant mint in spring after the last frost. This fast-growing herb can grow just about anywhere and makes an excellent addition to indoor and outdoor gardens.
- Space mint plants 18 to 24 inches apart. It’s best to grow them in pots to keep them from taking over your garden (even if you’re planting in the ground).
- Give your garden a great foundation by improving native soil with several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. For container growing, consider a premium bagged potting mix.
- Keep soil consistently moist and water when the top inch becomes dry.
- Promote excellent leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
- Once established, harvest mint leaves regularly by pinching off the stems.
How to Use and Store Mint
Fresh mint leaves are a nice complement to lamb, fish, poultry, and vegetables such as peas, new potatoes, and carrots. Mint also blends well with green or fruit salads and beverages such as punch, lemonade, and tea. Two very well-known drinks, mint julep and Cuban mojito, both depend on spearmint for their cool zest. Freeze mint in cubes for iced tea. You can also preserve it in vinegar or dry it for potpourri or sachets.