Types of Mint Plants: Grow and Use Popular Varieties

Mint plants are versatile and offer a variety of uses, from enhancing your food and beverages to incorporating them into body products. Discover the most common types of mint plants, learn how to grow them, and explore different ways to use them!

Mint is known for its vigorous growth and fresh, aromatic flavor. By understanding how to cultivate mint to maximize its natural tendencies, you can ensure a steady supply of this delightful herb for use in teas, desserts, essential oils, and DIY body products. Whether you choose to cultivate mint indoors or outdoors, here are some popular varieties to consider, along with tips on caring for and utilizing each type.

9 Deliciously Easy Types of Mint to Grow

There is a wide range of sub-varieties and hybrid mint plants, but this guide focuses on the most popular types. Let’s explore them one by one!

Spearmint

Spearmint is a highly aromatic perennial herb that originated in Asia and Europe but has now spread to Africa, North America, and South America.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha spicata
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Moist soil of any type
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist

How to Identify Spearmint

All types of mints can be easily identified by their square-shaped stems, and spearmint is no exception. Its leaves are oval-shaped with a spear-like tip, giving it its name. Look for pink, purple, or white flowers that bloom on upright spikes.

How to Grow Spearmint

Spearmint is adaptable to various soil types, including clay and sandy soils, as long as they are consistently moist. It thrives in very wet conditions and can even tolerate boggy soil.

Ways to Use Spearmint

Fresh, dried, or frozen spearmint is widely used in culinary, medicinal, and beauty applications. Enjoy it in herbal teas, sauces, ice cream, shampoos, and toothpastes. Spearmint oil is known to aid in fever reduction and digestion.

Water Mint

Water mint is native to Europe, Asia, and some parts of Africa. It prefers wet conditions and is often found in marshes or streams. Additionally, its strong aroma acts as a natural pest repellent, keeping insects, flies, and certain rodents at bay.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha aquatica
  • Hardiness Zone: 8-11
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Average, acidic soil
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist to wet

How to Identify Water Mint

Water mint stands out with its red, square stems and dark green oval-shaped leaves, which have a slight glossiness compared to other mint types. It produces small pink, purple, and blue flowers during the summer.

How to Grow Water Mint

Water mint thrives in full sun and boggy soil, making it ideal for planting near ponds. It can tolerate part shade better than many other mint varieties.

Ways to Use Water Mint

Water mint’s refreshing flavor adds a delightful twist to cold drinks, teas, and various recipes. Its essential oils possess antibacterial properties and can be used to cleanse cuts and soothe sore muscles.

Peppermint

Peppermint, a hybrid of spearmint and water mint, has become one of the most popular mint plants globally.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x piperita
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-11
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist

How to Identify Peppermint

Peppermint stands out from other mint varieties with its medium gray-green foliage and oval leaves that have finely serrated edges.

How to Grow Peppermint

Peppermint is a resilient plant that thrives in various environments. It requires consistent moisture and will not tolerate dry conditions.

Ways to Use Peppermint

Peppermint is commonly used in toothpaste, chewing gum, salads, sauces, and cocktails. It has medicinal properties that help with blood pressure, digestion, and congestion relief.

Field Mint

Also known as corn mint or wild mint, field mint is a perennial variety native to temperate regions in Europe, Asia, and North America. It contains a high concentration of menthol.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha arvensis
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Average soil
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist to wet

How to Identify Field Mint

Field mint has smaller, bright green oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges and coarse hairs. The leaves are arranged opposite each other on square stems. It produces tiny pink, purple, or blue flowers in the summer.

How to Grow Field Mint

Field mint requires full sun and very wet soil, making it unsuitable for sandy or well-draining soils. It does not thrive in shady areas.

Ways to Use Field Mint

Field mint is commonly used in teas to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It can be added to soups, salads, and beverages. Its menthol can also be extracted for use in chewing gum, mouthwash, cough syrups, and drinks.

Apple Mint

Apple mint is a perennial herb native to temperate regions of Europe and has naturalized in North America.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha suaveolens
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist

How to Identify Apple Mint

Apple mint leaves are medium green and oval-shaped with serrated edges. They are covered in downy hairs, giving the plant its nickname, “wooly mint.” In summer, it produces tall spikes of tiny white or pink blooms.

How to Grow Apple Mint

Apple mint thrives in sunny, moist conditions. It does not tolerate shade, dryness, or cold temperatures well. Keep it contained or use it as an attractive edging plant. It also makes a great companion plant for tomatoes and broccoli.

Ways to Use Apple Mint

The sweet fruity flavor of apple mint is perfect for making mint water, teas, jams, smoothies, and desserts.

Basil Mint

Basil mint is a perennial mint variety that serves as an excellent replacement for fresh basil when temperatures drop.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x piperita f.citrata
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Dry, well-draining soil
  • Water: Water regularly

How to Identify Basil Mint

Basil mint has heart-shaped leaves and a subtle basil aroma. It produces white blooms during the summer.

How to Grow Basil Mint

Basil mint grows well in various climates and soil types. It can withstand both heat and frost.

Ways to Use Basil Mint

Basil mint adds a delightful flavor to teas, salads, pestos, and other recipes, just like regular basil. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve headaches, upset stomachs, and heartburn.

Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint, a close relative of peppermint, derives its name from its mild chocolate aroma.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha × piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Rich, moist soil
  • Water: Water regularly

How to Identify Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint stands out with its rounded, dark green leaves. During the summer, it produces lavender-colored flowers.

How to Grow Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint thrives in moist but well-draining soil. It can tolerate dry, sandy soils if watered regularly and is adaptable to various climates.

Ways to Use Chocolate Mint

With its unique flavor that resembles orange more than chocolate, chocolate mint is often used in culinary applications. It adds a delightful touch to fruit dishes, teas, desserts, and adult beverages.

Lavender Mint

Lavender mint is a highly flavorful culinary herb that can be grown as a perennial in certain hardiness zones or as an annual in colder regions. It pairs exceptionally well with other mint varieties such as peppermint.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Soil: Well-drained soil
  • Water: Keep the soil moist but not overly wet

How to Identify Lavender Mint

Lavender mint features purple-red square stems and spear-shaped gray-green leaves arranged opposite each other. The leaves have purple margins and dark veins. In summer, the plant produces small lavender blooms.

How to Grow Lavender Mint

Unlike most mint plants, lavender mint thrives in cooler temperatures and temperate environments. It requires consistent moisture and is not drought-tolerant.

Ways to Use Lavender Mint

Due to its intense aroma, use lavender mint sparingly in recipes. It adds a delightful flavor to teas, green or fruit salads, poultry dishes, vegetables, ice creams, and desserts. Lavender mint is also great for sachets, potpourris, soaps, shampoos, creams, and attracts bees, making it an excellent choice for wreaths and bouquets.

Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint is a variant of apple mint and offers a minty citrus flavor.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha suaveolens
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Soil: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Water: Keep the soil moist but not overly wet

How to Identify Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint stands out with its variegated elongated leaves, which are bright green with white borders. The leaves have a slightly coarse texture with delicate hairs.

How to Grow Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint is one of the easiest mint varieties to grow. It requires regular watering initially and occasional watering during dry spells once established.

Ways to Use Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint is commonly used as a culinary herb to infuse flavors into jellies, teas, and fruit salads.

Mojito Mint

Mojito mint is well-known for its use in the popular cocktail, mojito. Native to Cuba, it was not widely available in North America until 2006. Mojito mint has a milder flavor similar to spearmint but with less cooling sensation.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x villosa
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Well-draining, semi-fertile soil
  • Water: Keep the soil moist but not overly wet

How to Identify Mojito Mint

Mojito mint leaves are oval-shaped with serrated edges, typical of most mint plants. Its flavor is mild and warm, providing a pleasant contrast to the cooling sensation of other mint varieties.

How to Grow Mojito Mint

Mojito mint is considered an invasive plant, making it easy to grow. It thrives in moist soil but can tolerate various climates. Regular pruning is necessary to prevent it from taking over the garden.

Ways to Use Mojito Mint

While mojito mint is best known for its use in mojitos, it can also be used similarly to spearmint in sauces, teas, and as a garnish for fresh fruit.

Which Types of Mint Plants Will You Grow?

Growing mint plants from seeds can be challenging. However, propagating new plants from cuttings often yields better results. We hope you’ll consider growing one or more of these delightful mint varieties in your garden this year. Whether you choose peppermint, water mint, lavender mint, or any other type, there’s nothing quite like using freshly harvested mint leaves in your culinary creations and beverages!

Editorial Note: This post was originally published on May 19, 2021, and updated on February 3, 2022.

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Happy gardening and mint-growing!