No garden should be without one form of mint. Most mints are good ground cover plants and are excellent for areas that you really don't know what else to do with. Mint will die back to the ground in winter and re-sprout in spring. Once its growing it needs very little attention and is pretty hardy. It will spread however so make sure you don't grow it anywhere near other plants or it will smother them. Wildlife don't usually eat it but mints are excellent for the digestive system so it's a great herb to have on hand for stomach aches, overeating or just flavoring drinks on a warm summer afternoon. There is nothing like fresh mint.
The exciting thing about growing from seed is that you get to pick which plants you like the best and work with those (this is how breeders make new plant varieties). You can choose which ones you prefer the look of or which ones have the best taste and take cutting from these to increase your plant stock.
Growing from seed is easy. Seeds are very small but germinate quickly and seedlings grow quickly. We recommend starring seeds in trays and transplanting to individual pots to begin with. Then taste your plants and decide which ones you want to keep. See our general growing instructions for more details on growing seeds.
Spearmint is not fussy about soil type and will grow in almost anything provided its not waterlogged (but there is a mint that will grow there if you need it). While spearmint is fairly drought tolerant it will not produce a lot of leaves if it does not have a reasonable amount of water, so if you are growing with harvesting in mind then make sure it gets regular water especially on very well drained soils.
If growing mint to harvest on a regular basis watering and a little feeding will keep your mint at its best. Without 'food' mints will quickly exhaust what is in the soil around them and will not be able to keep producing good strong leaves for you to cut. Adding a good mulching of compost or leave mulch at the end of the year will help give the mint plants a good start for next seasons harvest.
Make sure you choose your location carefully when planting mints. An area well away from any other plants you care about is essential. Do not choose something up against your property boarder or fence as the mint will travel under it and you're your neighbours will have it too! Mowing will also keep the plant under control so growing next to your lawn is an ideal place for it.
If you only want a little mint either grow it in a large planter on a deck or patio or sink a container into the ground leaving about 2 inches (5cm) above the ground so you can trim off any roots that try to escape. Ensure it's a deep pot at least 24 inches (61cm) or more or the roots will emerge from the bottom holes and spread that way.
Once established mint needs virtually no care. Cutting down all the stalks in the winter is the only thing and this can be achieved by a quick run over it with a lawn mower. Then you are ready for next years growth.
The best time to harvest your spearmint leaves is in the morning when the concentration of essential oils is the highest. Wait until any dew or other moisture has evaporated off the plants to ensure that the leaves to do develop mold after picking but before the mid day sun has become to hot and removed any of the essential oil from the leaves.
Cut stems down to about 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) from the ground. Mint is very resilient and will grow back quickly.