What Type of Mint to Grow (There Are Hundreds)


If you are planning to grow mint in your garden this year, you are probably overwhelmed by the variety of mint to choose from.  There is peppermint, spearmint, sweet mint, and many more.

So, what type of mint should you grow?  Peppermint does well in damp areas if your soil does not drain well.  Spearmint can tolerate light frost, and is perennial in Zones 3 to 11.  If you want a mint plant with a fruity smell and flavor, try lemon balm, orange mint, or pineapple mint.

Of course, there are too many mint varieties to name here, but we’ll get into some of the more common ones, along with some basic tips on caring for mint plants.

What Type of Mint to Grow

Mint is a hardy perennial, meaning that it can survive winters in many cold hardiness zones.  Some, such as peppermint and spearmint, can survive in Zones 3 to 11, making them accessible for many gardeners.

Check out the mint varieties listed below and choose one or more based on where you live and what type of flavor and scent you are looking for.

Peppermint

This herb is easy to grow, as are many mint varieties.  Peppermint does well in damp areas, but can survive dry soil too.  It is perennial in Zones 3 to 11, and should be planted after last spring frost or in the fall.

peppermint
Peppermint is one of the most well-known mint varieties.

Leave 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) between plants when transplanting or thinning.  The plant can grow 24 inches (61 centimeters) tall and 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) wide.

For more information, check out Peppermint on the Bonnie website.

Spearmint

This mint variety has a strong flavor and is frequently used to flavor hot or cold drinks.  Peppermint can tolerate light frosts, and is perennial in Zones 3 to 11.  It should be planted in the spring or fall.

spearmint
Spearmint is often used in hot and cold drinks to add flavor.

Leave 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) between plants when transplanting or thinning.  The plant can grow 24 inches (61 centimeters) tall.

For more information, check out Spearmint on the Bonnie website.

Sweet Mint

This mint variety has large leaves and has a flavor similar to spearmint.  Sweet mint is perennial in Zones 5 to 11, and should be planted in spring.

Leave 24 inches (61 centimeters) between plants when transplanting or thinning.  The plant can grow 24 inches (61 centimeters) tall and 24 inches (61 centimeters) wide.

For more information, check out Sweet Mint on the Bonnie website.

Chocolate Mint

This herb has a mint chocolate flavor and does well in damp locations with partial shade.  It is perennial in Zones 3 to 11, and should be planted after the last frost or in the fall.

Leave 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) between plants when transplanting or thinning.  The plant can grow 24 inches (61 centimeters) tall and 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) wide.

For more information, check out Chocolate Mint on the Bonnie website.

Lemon Balm

Technically a member of the mint family, lemon balm has a lemony scent to its leaves.  It is perennial in Zones 5 to 9, and should be planted in spring after the last frost, with 20 to 24 inches between plants.

lemon balm
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and smells just like lemons when you crush it.

The plant can grow 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 centimeters) tall.  For more information, check out Lemon Balm on the Bonnie website.

Orange Mint

This perennial herb boasts solid, deep green leaves with both orange and mint flavors.  Orange mint matures in 90 to 200 days.

The plant can grow 24 inches (61 centimeters) tall and 24 inches (61 centimeters) wide.  For more information, check out Orange Mint on the Burpee website.

Pineapple Mint

This perennial herb boasts green leaves with white edges with a fruity mint flavor.  Pineapple mint matures in 90 to 120 days.

The plant can grow 12 to 24 inches (30 to 61 centimeters) tall and 12 to 24 inches (30 to 61 centimeters) wide.  For more information, check out Pineapple Mint on the Burpee website.

Ginger Mint

This perennial herb boasts green leaves with light green and yellow stripes.  Ginger mint matures in just 30 to 90 days.

The plant can grow 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) tall and 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) wide.  For more information, check out Ginger Mint on the Burpee website.

To find out the frost dates for your area, check out this frost date calculator from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Is Mint Hard to Grow?

Mint is not hard to grow – on the contrary, mint can actually grow aggressively, to the point of being invasive to your garden.   Many mint varieties will soon spread by sending out horizontal runners (like strawberries do) and underground rhizomes.

In fact, you may need to plant your mint in containers or in a deep cylinder to prevent the fast spreading of roots.  Use a pot with a diameter of about 1 foot (30 centimeters) to grow one mint plant and keep it contained.

clay pots
Keep mint in a pot to prevent it from spreading too quickly through your garden.

You can also try using a grow bag for your mint plants.  For more information, check out my article on why to use grow bags.

Keep your potted mint plants away from radiators & drafts – it may be too cold near windows in the winter.

For more information, check out this article on mint from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Mint prefers full sunlight, but can tolerate some shade.  Mint grows best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

For more information, check out this article on mint from the University of Illinois Extension.

There are several other factors that affect mint growth, including temperature, watering, fertilizing, spacing, and pruning.  Let’s start with temperature.

Temperature for Mint

Mint seeds should sprout with 10 to 15 days at temperatures of 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 23.9 degrees Celsius).  If the soil is too cold than this, you will see slow germination or low germination rates – that is, if you can get any seeds at all to germinate!

This is nature’s way of protecting mint seeds from sprouting at a time when they will be unable to survive.  This is why it is suggested that you start mint seeds indoors to avoid cold soil temperatures in early spring.

Keep in mind that these temperatures refer to soil temperature, not air temperature.  If you want to find out the soil temperature, use a probe-type thermometer to check.

If the thermometer reads a temperature that is too low, then you have some options.  One option is to wait until the sun warms up the soil.

To speed up this process, clear away any debris, such as leaves or grass clippings, from the soil surface.  Also make sure to choose a location for planting that gets plenty of sun, so that it can warm up the soil faster.

If you are worried about a short growing season, you can also use a cloche (a plastic or glass cover) to trap some heat and warm up the air and soil near your cauliflower seeds.

A cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle to retain warmth and humidity in the soil for seeds or seedlings as they grow.

Once established, mint plants are hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius).

For more information, check out this article on mint from the Utah State University Extension.

Watering for Mint

Mint needs regular watering, so keep the soil moist to avoid water stress. Mint prefers well-draining soil, so if you have clay soil, consider adding some compost to improve drainage.

garden hose
Be careful not to over water your mint plants!

For more information, check out my article on how to improve soil drainage.

You may need to water more often for sandy soil, which drains quickly even when soaked thoroughly.  Dry, sunny weather also means you will need to water more often.

Putting mulch on top of your soil will help to retain moisture.  If you find that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.

On the other hand, over watering your mint plants (or any plants for that matter) can lead to root rot and eventual death.  The best way to decide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.

If the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and water.  For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.

Try to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to soak into the soil before evaporating.

Fertilizing for Mint

Adding compost to your soil before planting mint is a good way to improve drainage for clay soil, improve water retention for sandy soil, and add nutrients to your garden.

compost bin
Compost adds nutrients to your soil, and allows you to recycle yard waste and kitchen scraps.

For more information, check out my article on making compost.

Avoid excessive nitrogen or manure that has not decomposed completely, since this can burn your plants.

For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing your plants.

Spacing for Mint

When planting mint, bury the seeds to a depth of 0.25 inches (0.6 centimeters) below the surface of the soil.

When you are thinning seedlings or transplanting established plants outside, leave plants 2 feet (61 centimeters) apart.  This leaves enough space to prevent competition between plants.

Leave 2 feet (61 centimeters) between rows if you are growing mint in rows.

Pruning for Mint

Many mint varieties will quickly grow out of hand, so you may wish to prune the plants to keep them neat.

pruning shears
Prune mint plants to keep them neat.

You can also divide your mint plants to produce more plants, or to have some to give away to family or friends.

Conclusion

By now, you know about the different types of mint that you can grow.  You also know a little bit about how to care for your mint plants.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions about mint plants, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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