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Field Mint Information: Learn About Wild Field Mint Growing Conditions

Field Mint Information: Learn About Wild Field Mint Growing Conditions


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By: Anne Baley

What is wild mint or field mint? Field mint (Mentha arvensis) is a wild mint that is native to the central part of the United States. The scent of this wild mint growing in a field is often so strong you can smell it long before you can see it. Keep reading for field mint information and learn about wild mint growing in your garden.

Field Mint Information

Native Americans used to drink field mint tea as a remedy for colds, and it’s still used today for teas and flavorings for food. It’s an unusual-looking mint plant, with a square stem that grows from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm.) tall with tufts of flowers puffing out around the stem every few inches.

As with other types of mint, you can pick mature field mint leaves first thing in the morning for the best flavor. Enjoy them fresh chopped in iced tea, sprinkled on a salad or mixed into a variety of dishes. Dry the leaves for long term storage. You can enjoy mint tea from fresh or dried leaves.

Wild Mint Growing Conditions

Planting wild mint begins with choosing the right patch of garden in which to plant it. This plant does not like to get dried out, so sandy soils aren’t the best environment in which to grow your field mint. Dig a good quantity of compost into sandy soils to help keep the soil moist.

Make sure your proposed planting site includes full sun, or almost full sun. It can tolerate light shade, but not dappled sun, like underneath a tree.

Like any other mint plant, the care of field mint plant isn’t so much a question of keeping it healthy and alive as it is of keeping it held back. Mint is one of the most invasive plants you can put in your garden and can take over an entire yard in a matter of a few years. The easiest and least expensive way to prevent this from happening is by planting all mint plants in containers and never putting them in the garden itself.

Use a rich potting soil and a large pot to allow the mint to spread out a bit, and keep the flowers deadheaded to prevent them from seeding onto nearby soil.

Plant field mint seeds in the fall after the leaves have fallen from the trees, or store them in the refrigerator vegetable bin for at least three months before planting them in the spring. Plant the seeds by sprinkling them on top of the soil, then watering them in. Seedlings should sprout in about a week.

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The Best Way to Plant Mint Without It Taking Over the Garden

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A low-maintenance perennial herb, mint provides strongly aromatic leaves for teas, potpourris and cooking, but is invasive in favorable growing sites. Common varieties include spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha X piperita). Spearmint grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, and peppermint grows in USDA zones 3 through 7, and in zone 8 when protected from hot summer sun. Planting mint in containers and regular pruning provide the best chance to prevent it taking over the garden.


Mint: Growing and Planting Instructions

Perfect for beginning gardeners, mint is the easiest of all herbs to grow, a perennial hardy in zones 4-9. In addition to flavoring food and drinks, it serves as a natural pest deterrent in the vegetable, herb, or flower garden, and chewing the leaves not only freshens the breath but is said to calm an upset stomach.

Native to the Mediterranean, the genus Mentha has parented more than 3,500 varieties. By far the most commonly grown in this country are Spearmint (M. spicata) and Peppermint (M. x piperita). Both are super easy to grow, taking off like crazy to perfume home or garden all season!

For spring planting, mint seeds can be started indoors in late winter or direct-sown in the warm spring soil. But as a hardy perennial, they can be started anytime until about 2 months before the first frost of fall, or year-round for indoor use.

To sow the seeds indoors, place them on top of the Bio Sponge in your Bio Dome, or on top of the medium in your seed flat. Do not cover the seeds they need light to germinate. They should sprout within 10 to 15 days at room temperature or slightly warmer (68 to 75°F). Transplant into the garden or container when they have at least 2 sets of true leaves.

To sow the seeds outdoors, place them on top of well-worked soil, then sprinkle a fine layer of vermiculite on top of them. If you are sowing directly into the garden, consider placing a row cover over the seeds until they sprout.

  • Harvest sprigs from the plant as you need them all season long.
  • Try to pick mint in the morning, when the flavorful oils are strongest.
  • Plant your mint where passersby will brush the foliage, which releases its heady aroma.
  • For new plants from your old ones, root a stem cutting in a glass of water, or divide the entire plant into sections and replant each division.

Growing Tips for Mint Plants

  • Mint thrives best in partial shade and rich, moist soil. However, it is famously unfussy, so chances are it will not only survive but flourish in any light from full sun to deep shade, and any quality of soil provided the drainage is decent. Many gardeners deliberately plant it in less favorable conditions to slow down its spread!
  • Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart in the garden.
  • Throughout the growth months, pinch off the tips of the stems. This makes your plant bushier and less leggy.
  • Avoid using fertilizer on mint.

Pests and Problems to Watch For

Mint's greatest advantage -- its utter ease of growth -- is also one of its biggest problems. Do not plant it in an area where other plants must compete for space. If you want it in the garden but without the rapid spread, set it into a container instead, and use a saucer at the base to prevent the roots from growing into the soil below.


Reader Interactions

Comments

Marilyn says

Love it! I ordered some seeds from eBay and I planted them today. I used little Keurig cups and they are on my dining room table and covered with a plastic bag as recommended. They should germinate nicely. Super excited to grow mojito mint.

Nell says

Great! You’ll love this mint Marilyn because it’s got a mild but delicious flavor. Do I see some poolside Mojitos in you future for next summer?! Hugs from the AZ desert, Nell xo

Cindy says

Where do I get mojoto mint? I have chocolate mint it’s my favorite but I do love mojotos

Nell Foster says

Hi Cindy – It’s a lovely mint because it’s not too strong. I bought mine at our farmer’s market but they are a few sources online which carry this lovely mint which you can find through a search. Nell

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Propagation

Mentha seed is tiny – approximately 14,000 seeds per gram – and difficult to germinate.

And, being an avid cross breeder, seeds produce variable results – often with different taste and appearance than that of the parent plants.

I have an unintentional patch of minty oregano from this cross-pollination trait – it’s very tasty in icy drinks!

Commercial growers propagate vegetatively, and root division or stem cuttings give the best results for home gardeners.

By Root Division

Autumn is the ideal time to take root cuttings, but early spring works as well.

Choose a rootbound container plant and gently remove the rootball from the pot. Using a hand saw or garden shears, cut the rootball into quarters.

Fill small 2- to 4-inch pots or trays with a soil mix of 1/3 well aged compost, 1/3 vermiculite or peat moss, and 1/3 landscape sand. Water well until the soil is evenly moist.

Repot 2 or 3 of the quarters in fresh soil and divide the remaining quarter to create several smaller root cuttings, each with at least one stem.

Trim off the top growth and prune the hairy roots to fit in your containers.

Set the cuttings in place then top up with soil and firm gently.

Water lightly then set out in a cold frame or a protected site with bright, indirect light and steady moisture.

By Stem Cutting

Choose strong stems with fresh, healthy green leaves.

Cut off 4- to 6-inch pieces, removing the lower 3 or 4 sets of leaves. Cut the stem just below a set of leaf nodes to prevent the stem from curling in water.

Longer stems are preferable because roots sprout from the leaf nodes – more leaf nodes from long stems means more roots and a strong plant.

Place stems in a small glass of water, and set in a light, airy windowsill until healthy roots have formed.

The roots start to form in 10 to 14 days and can be planted out in 3 to 4 weeks.

Once a strong root system has formed, pot up the stems into containers 6 to 8 inches deep and wide, filled with sterile, well-draining potting soil.

Firm the soil around the stems and water gently.

Keep the pots in a sheltered spot for 4 to 6 weeks, ensuring the soil stays moist but not waterlogged. After plants are established, transplant into the garden to their permanent locations.


Selecting Varieties and Sites

Planting certain mint varieties in suitable sites helps control the plants' spread. Corsican mint (Mentha requienii) grows up to 4 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide, and is hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9. Planted between paving stones, it spreads slowly and releases its scent when crushed underfoot. Lemon mint (Mentha × piperita f. citrata) grows in USDA zones 5 through 9 and spreads vigorously, but is an effective ground cover plant in woodlands and around ponds and streams. Bearing small, lavender summer flowers, lemon mint grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide.


Watch the video: Cultivation - Life Cycle of Mint Leaves


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