Mint plants are attractive additions to gardens with numerous culinary and medicinal uses. Easy to grow in a considerable range of conditions, mint is a good option for areas that other plants may not grow well. There are multiple ways to cultivate mint, but by growing mint from mint seeds, you can choose your mint variety and begin growing mint indoors anytime year-round.
What Should I Know About Mint?
Mint originated in the Mediterranean but grows in many climates around the world. It grows as a hardy perennial in zones four through nine and is a great choice for those new to gardening, as it is quite easy to care for once established in a container or garden.
Varieties of Mint
The most commonly grown varieties of mint are spearmint and peppermint, but there are over 3,500 varieties of mint.
Apple mint is a bright green mint that can reach two feet in height. This mint's leaves are covered in small hairs, which is why apple mint is sometimes called wooly mint or fuzzy mint.
Apple mint makes a wonderful tea and makes a delightful, flavorful garnish for water when slightly bruised.
Chocolate mint is a rich green with spiky edges and brownish tinged stems. For the best flavor in chocolate mint, grow the plant in full sun.
Chocolate mint tastes sweet and has only a mild cooling and numbing effect. It has culinary uses and is often used in drinks.
Ginger mint is a fast-growing mint plant with bright green leaves striped with yellow. Ginger mint is able to grow in clay soils that other plants have difficulty thriving in.
Ginger mint has a faint ginger scent. It has culinary uses and can be used to make tea. It is also an excellent choice to garnish and flavor lemonade.
Pennyroyal mint plants, or European pennyroyal, are bright green plants that reach up to a foot in height and spread vigorously. Their blooms range from a reddish-purple to a pale purple color. In hanging baskets, the trailing habit of pennyroyal makes for an impressive display.
Pennyroyal has culinary and decorative uses. Pregnant women should avoid consuming or handling pennyroyal.
Cultivation of peppermint traces back to the late 1700s in England where it was developed as a result of a cross between spearmint and watermint. Peppermint is a bright green with tooth-edged leaves that produces delicate flowers. It grows and spreads a bit more slowly than some other mint varieties, but not so slowly that growing it outside of containers or in containers with other plants is recommended.
Peppermint has a clean mint flavor and a cooling effect on the mouth when eaten. Fresh peppermint from your plants can be used in cooking, used as a garnish, or used to make tea.
Pineapple mint has striking variegated green and white leaves. It grows vigorously, but any non-variegated green mint that is found growing in it should be removed. These green stalks are most likely apple mint, of which pineapple mint is a cultivar. Apple mint could crowd out your pineapple mint.
Pineapple mint can be a little bitter for culinary use or making tea, but it makes a stunning garnish.
Spearmint is a vibrant green plant with spiky edges. These plants grow and spread quickly, and can reach heights of up to two feet. Flower spikes on spearmint plants can be up to four inches in length. This plant is only hardy to zone five, so you may want to bring spearmint grown in containers indoors if you have very cold winters.
Spearmint has an intense green mint flavor with cooling properties and no sweetness. Fresh spearmint from your plants can be used in cooking, used as a garnish, or used to make tea.
How to Grow Mint Seeds
Though each mint variety will vary some as far as ideal growing conditions, the general process of starting mint seeds and caring for mint plants remains relatively uniform. Be certain to check for any specific requirements of the variety or varieties of mint seeds that you choose to cultivate as far as how much water and sunlight they might need.
Mint seeds have a relatively low germination rate, meaning that you should expect to see fewer plants than seeds you plant. Plant at least five seeds for every mint plant you hope to grow. Because mint spreads quickly and can be propagated from cuttings as long as you can get a few mint plants established, you'll be able to grow plenty.
For indoor planting for spring transplant into the garden, start mint indoors in late winter. For mint that will remain indoors, mint seeds can be started at any time of the year. The ideal germination temperatures for mint seeds are soil temperatures of sixty to eighty degrees Fahrenheit, which occurs at room temperature in many homes.
To plant mint seeds, sprinkle them on top of the soil. Do not bury the mint seeds under soil as they require light in order to germinate. Mint seeds typically germinate in one and a half to two weeks. Do not attempt to transplant the mint sprouts until they have at least two sets of leaves.
Mint can be planted directly into garden soil in the spring once it warms. Mint seeds can continue to be sown until two months before the first fall frost. Ideal soil temperatures for germination of mint seeds are sixty to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle seeds on top of worked soil. Consider using row covers until the mint has sprouted. Mint seeds typically germinate in one and a half to two weeks.
Caring for Mint Seedlings
Keep the soil moist for your mint seedlings and as they start to get larger, you can pinch off the terminal leaves, or the leaves growing at the very tips of stalks, to encourage more bushy growth.
Caring for Established Mint Plants
Indoors, mint plants require regular watering and pruning. Mint plants benefit greatly from pruning, so don't be afraid to take mint as you need it once plants are well established.
Outdoors, established mint plants require little care. Prune plants as needed and pull out mint that spreads beyond the locations where it should be growing. Be alert for any mint runners that might escape containers or garden beds. Outdoors, mint benefits from a layer of mulch.
Purchasing mint seeds for growing in your home or in a home garden is generally not very expensive. Depending on the variety you choose, a packet of mint seeds is likely to cost less than $10 and may cost less than $5. If you do not already have seed starting and gardening supplies, there may be some additional costs for growing mint from seed.
How It Compares
We picked a few common varieties of mint seeds available on the market to see how they compare.
Mint Seeds Collection
This collection of mint seeds includes four popular varieties of mint: peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint, and pennyroyal mint. Each packet of seeds has a full-color illustration printed on the front and planting instructions printed on the back.
The seeds provided in this collection are non-GMO open-pollinated seeds. For the best germination rates, these mint seeds should be grown in the year that they are purchased or in the following year.
This seed assortment includes roughly 3500 mint seeds in total.
These mint seeds are packaged in an attractive, clearly labeled envelope with planting instructions printed on the back.
Good success rates with germination have been reported for this product.
These peppermint seeds come in unprinted packaging. No instructions are included on or in the packaging.
The degree of germination success reported by those who purchased these seeds is variable.
This package of spearmint seeds is offered by a family-owned company based in the United States. The seeds come in a printed envelope with planting instructions. It contains 10,000 spearmint seeds.
There is reasonable success reported from those who have purchased this product.
This package of pineapple mint seeds contains 1,000 seeds.
This packet of seeds ships without printed labels.
The germination rate for seeds offered by this seller is reasonably good.
Mint is a fantastic plant to grow in your home or in your garden. It is easy to grow and can tolerate conditions that many plants fail to thrive in. Many varieties of mint grow well in partial shade. Some varieties of mint, like ginger mint, are suited to growing in clay soils that are challenging to plant in.
Mint can be used in cooking, to make tea, and for decorative purposes. Planted along walkways where people will brush against it, mint will release its fragrance as its leaves are touched. Frequent pruning encourages a lush, bushy growth and benefits mint plants, so don't be shy about harvesting mint from established plants for use.
When growing mint, because of its spreading tendency, you'll want to take care to plant in containers or pull out mint runners to prevent mint from spreading into other plants. Mint that spreads often out-competes other plants and can quickly take over a garden, but with some attention, it can be contained.
Mint can be grown from seed, though the relatively low germination rate of mint will require that you plant considerably more mint seeds than you want mint plants. At least five seeds for every one sprouted plant is a good guideline. Mint germinates in temperatures between sixty and eighty degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn't require much in the way of temperature control to start indoors. Outdoors it can be planted once soil temperatures warm.
For the best results, keep your mint seeds from getting too hot or too cold, and choose where you get your mint seeds carefully. Even if you only want to grow one type of mint, choosing the Mint Seeds Collection offers enough seeds to get started at a price point not much higher than a single packet of seeds; it also has a higher reported germination rate. You could share any mint seed packets you don't use with friends and sample their mint varieties later if you're curious about them.