Mint is a perfect herb to begin with when starting your herb garden. Like basil, it adapts very well to our tropical climate in the Philippines. It’s fast-growing and can be successfully grown in any medium-sized container pot, using a well draining potting mix. Mint can also be grown indoors, provided that there is enough exposure to morning sun.
In my garden, I have three kinds of mint: spearmint, peppermint and choco mint. Each has a distinctive taste and therapeutic aroma that relax your senses, especially when used to perk up your warm cup of tea or that ice cold lemon juice. I would sometimes add a leaf or two of spearmint in my ice cold water, for a more envigorating twist. My mother always had spearmint herbs in her backyard garden, where she could just pick out a few leaves to accompany our favorite Asian dishes.
Important Things to Know about Growing Mint
While mint is a shoo-in for that perfect starter herb, there are a few important things that must be remembered when planting mint.
Mint is a highly invasive plant.
I made the mistake of planting mint together with other herbs in the same elongated pot. Within three months, all the other herbs died. Being an invasive plant, its roots can spread quickly, overwhelming other adjacent plant roots. So it is always advisable to isolate this herb in a pot. If they should be planted unto the soil, it is best to contain their roots in a submerged pot with several large holes at the bottom.
Prune the top leaves regularly.
Like most fast-growing herbs, mint herbs have to be pruned regularly. Harvest the leaves by pinching off the top leaves up to the 3rd or 4th leaf node. Doing so would allow the herb to grow more leaves and stems for a healthier and more vigorous appearance. It is generally resistant to most common pests, so the use of chemicals to control pests for mint plants is almost unnecessary.
Expose them to at least 4 hours of morning sun.
This plant benefits from a good dose of morning sun. For herbs, I would suggest a minimum of four hours of morning sun to help them grow faster and produce healthier leaves. Of course, 6 – 8 hours of sunlight is ideal in most situations. During summer months however, avoid exposing them to too much afternoon sun, as the heat may scorch their leaves.
Do not overwater.
While these plants thrive well in moist soil, they generally don’t want to be soaked. Use a container with enough holes to drain away excess water, and a good potting mix (which is a combination of compost, coco peat and pumice or alternatively, coarse sand). If potting mix is not available, use gravel or small rocks to line the bottom of the pot to allow for air pockets for drainage purposes.
Fertilize once a month.
While mint is generally a low maintenance herb, it requires regular replenishment of nourishment from the soil. These soil nutrients will get depleted over time as the plant consumes the soil nutrients. Conditioning the soil with a fresh layer of compost once a month is a good practice. Sometimes I use rice wash which is very rich in nutrients that most plants need to stay healthy.