How Much Sun Should Mint Get? And Other Growing Tips
Did you know there are 28 species of mint!
Peppermint, spearmint, orange mint, chocolate mint...the list of mints go on and on. Did you know there are 28 varieties of mint grown in the world? This culinary and medicinal plant is a great addition to any backyard or container garden. No green thumb needed when it comes to growing this herb. Mint is one of the easier plants to grow in a garden, however there are still some requirements needed to produce a healthy coverage of green leaves to enjoy by everyone.
How Much Sun Does Mint Need to Grow?
As with most plants, full sun (six plus hours a day) is the best bet for optimal growth. Mint is no exception. However, mint can also thrive in shadier areas of the yard as well. After doing some research, it seems that mint plants can grow in an area with as little as three hours of direct sunlight.
Although mint can grow in shadier spots, it will do much better in a sunnier area. I currently grow peppermint and spearmint in a concrete pot in my garden. This area gets about 4-6 hours worth of sun depending on the time of year. My mint is doing awesome!
Other Tips for Growing Mint
As I've mentioned above, mint is pretty easy to grow. Give the plant some soil, some water and sun and you're on your way to having mojitos in no time! With 28 varieties available, there is a mint for everyone! From the classics spearmint and peppermint to lemon balm, chocolate mint and orange mint, you are sure to have fun finding your favorite.
Like many herbs, mint will not only spread out but grow upwards. As the summer heat kicks in, watch your mint carefully. Like other herbs, when the plant becomes stressed by hot days, it may bolt to flower/seed. Although mint plants produce beautiful flowers, once they do flower the mint leaf will not taste as great. This also occurs in basil. If your plant begins to bolt (grow very tall, very quick) and produce buds, just be diligent and cut the budding stems off.
Once established, the more leaves you pick, the larger the plant will get. Pick mint leaves one by one or cut a whole stem, leaving lower leaves to grow back stronger and thicker!
Mint can also be invasive. It grows so well that many gardeners have to contain it some way. This is why growing mint in a container like I do is the best way to enjoy your mint. If you want to plant mint in the ground, make sure to place a boarder down in the soil, usually about four to six inches to prevent the roots from spreading and your small mint patch from taking over the whole yard! Yes, that can happen!
Mint can easily be grown from seed or by splitting up established mint plants. I've always bought small mint plants at the store and planted them in containers. However, I have split my plants up and given them to friends, who have had great success with them so far!
How to Use Mint
There are so many ways to use mint in the kitchen and as a healing herb. Need to freshen up your breath? Chew on a mint leaf. Need a little taste to your water? Add some mint leaves. Want to enjoy a nice summer drink? Add some mint to bourbon and simple syrup for a Mint Julep! Below is a list of things you can use mint for:
- Peppermint to aid digestion, treat nausea, diarrhea, colds, headache and even cramps.
- Lemon balm for anti-anxiety, mild depression, insomnia
- Peppermint tea - pour hot water over dried or fresh mint leaves, let steep then enjoy!
- Mint Sun tea - Bruise a handful of fresh mint leaves, add to clear glass jar, pour cold water and let sit in the sun for at least an hour.
- My own recipe for Orange Mint Iced Tea
- Mint Julep - bourbon, simple sugar and muddled mint leaves (drink of the Kentucky Derby)
- Mojito - Rum, soda, sugar, lime and mint leaves (refreshing summer drink!)
Because mint is a small leafy green, it is typically not the main ingredient in recipes. However, the wonderful refreshing taste of mint can be invaluable to desserts and meals alike! Leaves can even be thrown in a salad or fruit salad to give it that refreshing taste.
Mint can be used fresh from the garden or it can be easily dried and stored for future use. If you enjoy peppermint tea, I suggest drying as many leaves as you can during the summer months and then you'll be all set for hot tea all winter. Like most herbs when dried, the flavor can be stronger, so only a little will be needed per cup of tea.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and plant some delicious mint in your backyard, container garden or even on your windowsill. You won't regret the delicious aroma and taste of this easy to grow herb!
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