Mint

Mint leaves close upMint (Mentha spp.) is an excellent herb for beginning gardeners. It's very easy to grow, attracts pollinators, and does well in Florida's hot and humid weather. This popular herb can be used fresh or dry in a variety of ways in your kitchen.

Characteristics

The refreshingly aromatic leaves are dark green, small and pointed, with slightly notched margins. The small flowers can be off-white, bluish, or violet. Both the leaves and flowers can be added to many dishes including desserts, beverages, meat, salads, as well as jellies and sauces.

Mints belong to the Labiatae family with many other herbs, including basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Of the actual Mentha spp., there are 19 or so distinct species and many crosses. Two of the most popular are peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). But other mints exist as well, such as apple mint, English mint, orange mint, and even chocolate mint.

Planting and Care

While is one of the easiest herbs to grow, its strength is also its downside; it grows rapidly, sending out runners everywhere and can become weedy if left unchecked. To avoid having the rest of your garden overrun with mint, plant it in containers.

Mint grows best in soils that retain moisture and prefers light or part shade in Florida. Space plants about 12 inches apart to give them room to spread and grow.

Mint plants are propagated by either cuttings or division. Mint runners can be removed and transplanted or passed along to share with friends.

As your plant grows, mint leaves can be harvested as needed. Leaves and flowers can be used freshly picked from the garden or dried and stored for later use. Mint is considered a tender-leaf herb, meaning that the leaves have a high moisture content. As a tender-leaf herb, mint needs to be dried somewhere with darkness and low humidity or the leaves will turn dark and moldy.

For more information on growing mint and other herbs contact your local county Extension office.

UF/IFAS Publications