Gardening

How to plant mint

There are several species of mint or mint in the genus Mentha , and there is no consensus among botanists about the number of existing species and the name given to them. Increasing the difficulty of establishing a classification, species interbreed easily, producing several hybrid plants.

The most common species are:

Mentha spicata – called mint, peppermint, green mint or simply mint. The plant reaches 30 to 100 cm and has white or pink flowers. There are many cultivars of this species, which have good variability in the characteristics of their leaves. It is widely used as a condiment, as a flavoring, as tea and in the preparation of other drinks. It is also used for medicinal purposes.

Mentha aquatica – called aquatic mint, brook mint or water mint. As the name implies, it grows naturally at the edge of water courses, lakes, puddles, swamps, etc. It normally reaches about 90 cm, although it can reach 1.5 m in height. Its flowers are small, pink or lilac, and are densely grouped. It is generally used for medicinal purposes.

Mentha x piperita – called peppermint, some of its cultivars have unique popular names such as, for example, Mentha chocolate mint ‘Chocolate Mint’ and mint mint for Mentha x piperite ‘Citrata’. Peppermint is currently considered a hybrid resulting from the cross between Mentha aquatica and Mentha spicata . It grows from 30 cm to 1 m, its leaves are usually dark green and its flowers are pink or purple. It is used as a condiment, flavoring, as tea and in the preparation of other drinks. It is also widely used for medicinal purposes and to obtain essential oils, mainly menthol.

Mentha arvensis – known as wild mint, sweet mint and Japanese mint, among several other names, including peppermint to increase the confusion of names given to the mint species. It reaches 10 to 60 cm in height, and may even reach 1 m. There are several subspecies of this plant. Its flowers are white, pink or lilac, and are next to the stem, just above the leaves. It is used for medicinal purposes and as a condiment, and is the main species used to obtain the essential oil menthol.

Mentha pulegium – known as pennyroyal. It reaches up to 50 cm in height, growing in wet or soggy places, and at the edge of water courses. Its leaves are small and its pink flowers appear next to the stem, just above the leaves. It is used as a medicinal plant, condiment, flavoring, as tea and in the preparation of other drinks. It is also used to repel insects (the name pulegium came from its use as a flea repellent before the emergence of modern insecticides).

Mentha suaveolens – known as apple mint, is also called wild mint. It reaches 40 cm to 1 m in height, its flowers are white, pink or lilac. It is used for medicinal purposes, condiment, flavoring and as an ornamental plant (this species has cultivars with variegated leaves, much appreciated as garden plants).

Mentha cervina – known as river mint. It reaches up to 30 cm in height, has narrow dark green leaves and white flowers that appear next to the stem. It is used for medicinal purposes and as a condiment.

Mentha longifolia – known as wild mint. It reaches 40 cm to 1.2 m, has long and relatively narrow leaves. Its flowers can be purple, white or lilac. It is used for medicinal purposes and very rarely as a condiment.

There are some other species and several other hybrids of mint. Distinguishing mint or mint is generally a difficult task, given the variability and similarities found in species, subspecies and cultivars, and there is currently no consensus even among experts.

Climate

The various species of mint or mint are plants of temperate or mild climate, which withstand very low temperatures, but not the total freezing of the soil. Some species tolerate high temperatures, such as the Mentha arvensis species .

One recommendation is that the growing place should be well protected from the wind, as this can harm the plants.

Brightness

Mint or mint can be grown in sunny places or in partial shade with high light.

Ground

Cultivate the mint preferably in fertile soil and rich in organic matter.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist. Ideally, the soil should never dry out during the plant growth cycle.

Some species are adapted to grow in waterlogged soils. For example, water mint ( M. aquatica ), pennyroyal ( M. pulegium ), river mint ( M. cervina ) and can be grown in very moist or soggy soil, or on the edge of bodies of water, such as lakes, streams, etc.

Planting

Planting is usually done through rhizomes or branches taken from well-developed, healthy and well-characterized plants, with two or three buds in each piece of rhizome. These can be planted directly in the final location or in beds, and the seedlings are then transplanted when they reach 10 to 15 cm in height.

The recommended spacing between the plants varies depending on the species and the cultivar being planted, but generally a spacing of 30 to 40 cm between the plants is considered adequate.

Planting by seeds is possible, but it is not recommended, except for those who are looking to obtain new cultivars or hybrids, or for those who cannot obtain seedlings. As the plants cross easily and the phenotypic variability is great even between plants of the same species, it is difficult to guarantee that the plants originated by seeds have the characteristics of the cultivar or of the species of the mother plants. In addition, not all mint produces seeds easily.

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.

Some care is needed when planting mint or mint, as most species are invasive and can spread quickly. The plantation must be kept under control, cutting the plants to prevent them from spreading outside the area intended for planting. In home gardens, it is more convenient to grow mint in pots, planters and other containers, to more easily restrict its growth and prevent it from spreading and invading the space intended for other plants.

Harvest

Harvesting can be done from the moment the plants are well developed. The best time to harvest is when the plants are blooming, because in this period their flavor and aroma are more intense, since the concentration of their essential oils becomes maximum. Cut the stems above the first or second pair of leaves or harvest only the necessary leaves. It is possible to harvest all the stems three times a year, for four to six years without the need for replanting.

Although its use is very common, pennyroyal contains a high concentration of essential oil pulegone, which is very toxic, so its use should be restricted. Other mints may also contain pulegone, but in lesser concentration.

Pregnant women should avoid consumption of pennyroyal and all other mint.

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