Peppermint (Mentha pepireta)
Mint must be one of the easiest herbs to grow. As a perennial plant, mint does not have to be replaced every season. In fact depending on your location it remains green throughout the year. I grow mint for adding to drinks, making cucumber sandwiches, yogurt sauce for Moroccan Lamb Kabobs, and garnishing.
Some Common Mint species:
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has dark green leaves with a reddish stem and lavender flowers.
Chocolate Mint is a peppermint cultivar which had bronze-green leaves.Spearmint (Mentha spicata) has lighter green, pointy leaves and pink flowers.
Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens) has light green foliage.
Pineapple Mint (Mentha suaveolens 'Variegata’) has green leaves that are banded with white.
It has been my observation that mint undergoes two distinct growth phases in a given year. Understanding the events that happen during these phases helps a gardener grow mint the proper way.
1. The first phase is the above-ground vegetative growth which happens in early spring (see above picture). The stems will then prepare to flower in the summer. Frequent cutting will encourage branching and delay flowering. As the plant flowers, the vegetative growth comes to a halt to give way to reproductive development.
2. After flowering, stolons, which are modified stems, begin to grow laterally underground covering a lot of distance in a very short period of time. Eventually, these stolons will emerge from the ground and start to grow the next set of stems covering a much larger area. This is the reason why mint need to be contained. It is invasive and can become a weed.
Clone your mint
Dig into the soil at the base of your mint plant and look for stolons. Pull it out and cut into short sections making sure that there are at least three nodes in each section. I prefer the nodes that already have little buds and roots on them. Then plant the sections horizontally and cover with soil. Keep it watered but not too wet. In no time you will see new green leaves emerge.
Propagate (v.) to clone or grow a new plant from a vegetative part of an existing plant.
Stolon (n.) a modified stem growing underground. Distinguishable from the roots by the following: larger in diameter; white color; presence of nodes.