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December 2012
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Mentha Spicata or Spearmint is a mint species

Images of Mentha spicata at

Introduction to Mentha Spicata or Spearmint

• Mentha spicata is also known as M. viridis, syn M. cordifolia Spearmint, Curly mint.
• It is a mint species.
• It is a native to much of Europe and southwest Asia.
• It grows in wet soils.
• It is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region of North America where it was first sighted in 1843.
• It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant.
• This plant can grow up to 30–100 cm tall.
• It has hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome.
• The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad.
• The stem is square-shaped.
• Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long and broad.
• The name ‘spear’ mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.
• Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen.
• They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil.
• The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers.

Growing and caring conditions for Mentha Spicata or Spearmint

• Choose a flower bed location in the direct sun or partial sun.
• Prepare the soil by adding 2 to 4 inches of composted manure per square foot of bedding soil.
• Add 1/2 tablespoon of 16-16-18 fertilizer per square foot and work the manure and fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil.
• Plant one mint plant every 2 feet.
• Dig a shallow hole, deep enough to cover the root with a small shovel.
• Cover the base of the mint loosely with the shovel.
• Dampen the soil lightly and water the bed once a week.
• Don’t overwater mint as this can make the roots moldy.
• Harvest mint every two to three weeks by clipping the branches down several inches using sharp garden scissors.
• Cut the stems down to 1 inch above the soil at the end of the growing season.
• Mulch your mint patch, if desired.
• Mentha grows too vigorously for weeds to bother it much, but if your garden space lacks adequate water or dappled shade.
• Mulch helps keep the herbs cool and moist.
• Don’t worry about fertilizing your mints.
• The herbs adapt just fine to almost any kind of soil, so save your compost and fish emulsion for pickier plants.
• Unless your mints live in containers watering is not a concern.
• Mints can take care of themselves.
• Check the soil of your potted-up herbs, including mints, as container soil dries out much more quickly than garden soil.
• Keep pruning, or pinching back, the tips of the plants to encourage healthier, bushy growth and plenty of leaves.
• The plants, especially peppermint, quickly get a leggy, scraggly look when left un-pruned.
• Let some of the plants flower.
• The purple blossoms look lovely in any garden, and make a unique addition to salads, herbal vinegar, jellies and jams.
• The plants will simply die back in the cold months and emerge hale and hearty the following spring.
• Trim the plants close to ground level in the autumn.
• For the colder months, consider potting up a bit of mint for an indoor container.
• Keep the mint watered but not overly moist.
• Place it where it will receive some shade.
• If you’re growing a number of different types of mints, prune them before they flower.
• Once they reach the blossom stage, the plants could interbreed and lose some of their unique properties.
• Consider reviving the old-fashioned tradition of the herbal lawn or herbal bench by using mint plants.
• For a mint lawn or bench, choose small-leaved, lower-height mint varieties, such as Corsican or pennyroyal.

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