You are certainly familiar with peppermint. It is a flavoring that is found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and soothing herbal tea. This might be one of the reasons that you want to know how to grow peppermint. Before you try to grow this herb for yourself, you should know a few things about it.
Why Grow Peppermint?
You may be surprised to know all of the uses of peppermint. The most obvious one is for tea. Peppermint tea is popular for soothing an upset stomach. If you are suffering from a stomach virus or irritable bowel syndrome, peppermint tea can offer great relief. This caffeine-free tea also can provide relaxation and help the drinker achieve a good night’s sleep. This makes it a great tea to give to children when they are unwell.
The refreshing aroma can also help relieve nasal congestion and a sore throat. Peppermint has an antiviral (antivirus) and anti inflammatory attributes. Peppermint tea is effective against clogged sinuses due to viruses, colds and allergies. It is also no secret that menthol, a strong compound in peppermint, improves airflow in the nasal cavity.
Peppermint tea freshens the breath in a natural way, just like a lot of mint plants do. This is why peppermint is a common flavoring agent for a lot of dental products such as toothpastes and gum. Peppermint not only makes your breath smell better, but it actually has some actibacterial properties that kills the causes of foul smelling breath.
What you might not know is that peppermint can be used in a variety of foods. This herb is best used fresh in a salad or with fruit for a refreshing touch. You can also grind it up with basil to make a nutritious mint pesto. If eating the same boring vegetables every night is grinding away at you, add chopped mint leaves to instill a minty boost to your food. If you like vinegar but want something a bit different than normal, you can add a few crushed leaves to your vinegar for a minty tinge.
Did you know that peppermint tea is free of caffeine? Add to that peppermint’s naturally relaxing quality and you have yourself a natural sleeping draught. There are no scientific studies that conclusively states that peppermint tea enhances sleep, but the evidence definitely suggests it.
You can make peppermint oil to use on rashes, aches, and sunburns as well. Crush up peppermint leaves and place them in a jar. Add enough olive oil to cover the leaves. Shake the jar and leave it for three days. Next you strain out the crushed leaves. Repeat this process until you have the amount of oil you want. It is a great addition to any medicine cabinet.
The relaxing qualities of peppermint is great for relieving tension headaches and migraines. Peppermint has a muscle relaxing quality. It is also known to relieve pain. The minty oil in peppermint, called menthol, can increase the blood flow around the area it is applied on and has a cooling sensation. The increased blood flow can relieve pain.
Finally, as a plant peppermint is great for pollinating insects. The scent attracts bees and wasps alike, which helps support a healthy garden that is pest-free. Planting mint could be a boost to the rest of your plants! This is a great reason to learn how to grow peppermint.
How To Grow Peppermint From Seed
Many herbs are easy to grow (rosemary is an exception). The same is certainly true of peppermint.
You can start growing a peppermint plant from a seed inside as a seedling or plant it directly into the garden, although the roots can have difficulty penetrating thick soil so you may want to start them in trays. If you have difficulty acquiring peppermint seeds, it may be best to purchase pre-started seedlings from a local greenhouse.
Prepare your seed trays with soilless mix. It must be light dirt that is fertilizer free as fertilizer could cause the roots to burn. Soak the soil with water until it runs out of the drainage holes. As you experiment with how to grow peppermint from seed, remember that this herb needs a lot of moisture. Damp spots or slightly soggy soil will do just fine for mint plants.
Place seeds directly on top of the soil and gently press in. Peppermint requires light to germinate so covering the seeds up will prevent them from starting. Either cover the tray with the dome or mist it thoroughly each day. Although they need a lot of light, they should not be in direct sunlight. Also make sure the location is warm. Mint needs either full sun or part shade, depending on how hot it is in your area. Generally, it’s wise to make sure that your mint plants have protection from the hot afternoon sun.
The seeds should sprout within about two weeks. Give the seedlings time to develop true leaves. True leaves can be identified by how they look. They resemble what a mature leaf looks like. In most cases, look for a toothy edge to the leaf. Once they have several of these, you can harden off the plants and transplant them into a garden or container.
You can plant seeds directly into the garden, although this is quite challenging. You must ensure the soil is well worked up and very moist. Then plant the seeds and sprinkle some vermiculite on top of them. You must keep the soil very moist to ensure germination.
Besides the difficulty they may have establishing themselves in your garden soil, there is another reason to avoid planting peppermint directly into your garden. Peppermint has the ability to take over your entire garden. Peppermint can quickly overrun the territories around it. Its branches spread out either above or under the ground. You can prevent that by planting it in pots, plastic containers or flower beds bordered by walkways and such. You can also try planting them in partially submerged pots. This is why growing peppermint in containers is the best idea. Growing peppermint in containers allows you to inhibit them from becoming a pesky plant.
Another important point of discussion is your frost fighting plan or your mint plants. Peppermint can tolerate light frosts, but it will eventually die. Mint ultimately grows best in warm zones. If you need your mint to survive through frosty periods of time, you can utilize front blankets.
If you are worried about pests, don’t. Mint plants generally are pest free. In fact, peppermint and other mint plants are extremely useful in the garden because they ward off pests. They are great as companion plants because they protect other plants near them.
How To Grow Peppermint From Cuttings
Growing peppermint from seed can be a bit of a challenge. You may have more luck learning how to grow peppermint from cuttings. This process is fairly simple.
Start with a clipping that is just over 3 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem. Place the cuttings in a glass with some water at the bottom. Set the glass in a location that has a lot of indirect sunlight and is rather warm. Watch for the roots to start growing from the stem. You should see results within a couple of weeks.
Prepare a pot with loose, rich soil. Carefully move the cutting and the roots into the pot. Gently pat the dirt around the stem so that the roots are well covered. Water adequately. You can now trim the growth off the top of the stems. Give the plant at least a week before taking any further action to transplant. Move it into its final location once it is well established.
Fresh peppermint has an intoxicating smell and a delicious taste. You will be amazed at how it can spruce up a salad or a bowl of fruit. The tea is delicious and provides a variety of health benefits. Learn how to grow peppermint today to experience all this herb has to offer.