With its fresh burst of flavor and bright green leaves, mint is a well-loved culinary herb that grows easily in a variety of gardens — even indoors. If you want more mint in your life, and you want to grow it yourself, you've got options. Discover the different types of mint that you can grow.
Known also as Mentha x piperita, peppermint is a hearty herb with a sweet scent that's easily produced when you rub its leaves. When eaten, it has a slightly spicy, methol taste with a cooling effect. It's a great pop of freshness for savory dishes, and it works well infused in oils, a variety of refreshing cocktails, and — of course — mixed into candy, chocolate, and ice cream.
Peppermint is an invasive plant, so only plant it in your garden if you want it to take over. Keep peppermint potted or in a herb garden and give it lots of sun.
When grown, peppermint produces pinkish-purple or white flowers that are also edible.
Another well-known mint variety, spearmint, or mentha spicata, is a common addition to gum and toothpaste. The taste is sharp with notes of citrus, giving it a milder taste than peppermint. This herb is often found growing wild or in backyard gardens throughout Northern America. Spearmint loves space when planted, and it will spread rapidly. Like peppermint, spearmint might be best in its own container.
Cats love it, but we have to admit — so do we! This member of the mint family is particularly alluring to cats, who love to roll in its leaves. It gives some felines a sense of euphoria followed by deep relaxation. For us humans, it makes for a slightly bitter tea. It grows well in self-contained pots with lots of sun.
Not to be confused with catnip, catmint is a beautiful herb that produces greyish-green leaves and tall purple flowers similar to lavender. It's a perennial that loves full sun but also some shade. Its taste is musky but mild and is great in teas and salads. And yes. Cats love it as much as catnip.
Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, has a delicate lemon flavor and aroma. It's great at balancing tangy dishes. Folks love to add it to fish recipes, but it's also delicious in drinks of all kinds. Grown in sun or partial shade, it's a perennial and will return year after year.
You can dry out lemon balm and crush the leaves to steep in tea.
Orange Bergamot Mint
Orange bergamot mint — also known as orange mint — is often confused with the bergamot plant that produces the citrus fruit best known for flavoring Earl Grey tea. Like bergamot fruit, orange mint has a citrus orange flavor and aroma.
You can dry bergamot mint leaves and make them into a tea or used to flavor both savory and sweet dishes. Some recipes call for it in soup. It's invasive, so grow it in its own container in full/partial sun.
Apple mint is sometimes called woolly mint due to its bright green, fuzzy leaves. The herb gives off an invigorating apple scent and has a sweet apple taste that makes it ideal for flavoring teas, jellies, and sauces. Grown in partial sun, these gorgeous leaves may take over your garden so plant in its own container or where you want it to grow wild.
If you enjoy the taste combination of crisp mint and rich chocolate, you'll love chocolate mint. Closely related to spearmint, chocolate mint stands out from the crowd due to its purple stem and indulgent cocoa scent and taste. Use fresh or dried chocolate mint in teas, baked goods, fresh fruit, ice cream, and cocktails.
This mint prefers shade with partial sun. Keep it contained so it doesn't overtake your garden.
Pineapple mint is a tropical-tasting variation of applemint with a fruity essence and lovely appearance. The mint's green and cream leaves look creased. Use it fresh or dried to add a touch of sweetness to teas and baked goods. It thrives in moist soil as well as sun or partial shade.
With a subtle hint of ginger mixed with spearmint, ginger mint is an easy-to-grow perennial herb. Its leaves are veined yellow and taste great in fruit salads, teas, and marinades. Ginger mint thrives in the sun, but will tolerate some shade.
Commonly used as an edible garnish in restaurants, curly mint is known for unique fluted, curled leaves. This hearty perennial adds mint flavor — similar to spearmint with a hint of sweetness — to hot and cold beverages, jams, jellies, sauces, and candy. It's easy to grow in moist soils and can thrive in sun and partial shade. A tiny bit of fresh curly mint adds a fun zing to a salad.
This herb smells like peppermint, but it has a gentler flavor. Water mint loves water, so it requires moist soil to thrive. Its pretty, sphere-shaped lavender flowers are also edible. Use in teas, salads, dressings, and other food where you want some mint, but not the big punch you get from peppermint.
Wild corn mint is also known as field mint since you can find it in backyard gardens and along streams, shorelines, ditches, riverbanks, fields, and meadows. It loves sandy areas and the sun but still grows in partial shade. It's also wild, so keep it contained if you wish it not to take over your garden.
Corn mint's taste packs a punch with minty lavender notes, so use sparingly. You can dry it or use it fresh in herbal teas and many culinary dishes.
Pennyroyal is native to the Mediterranean and enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. It's also highly aromatic and has a strong mint taste — even a bit pungent with floral notes. It's a beloved tea and tastes great infused in cocktails.
Mentha asiatica, or Asian mint, is common in Eastern and Central Asia. Preferring full sun to partial shade, it grows wild along riverbanks and open land. It also makes a nice ornamental garden herb. The taste is a bit bitter, but adds great flavor to many culinary dishes and teas.
Horsemint enjoys sunny areas and damp soil. It's serrated leaves may be used fresh or dried in teas and are especially nice added to salads giving them a slightly zesty citrus-type mint flavor. It grows with ornate lavender and yellow flowers, with hints of pink.
This variety of mint grows as a beautiful bright green, moss-like, ground cover with tiny light purple flowers. The herb prefers moist soil and shady areas. Corsican mint has an especially strong scent and taste, and is known for its use in minty cocktails.
This pretty growing mint gets its name from its purple flowers and floral scent, which are reminiscent of a traditional lavender plant. It thrives in sun and partial shade. The taste has a hint of licorice to it and is closely related to peppermint. Add it to tea, salad, and baked goods.
Red Raripila Mint
You may not come across this one super often, but it deserves a mention. Red raripila mint is a bit rare. It's a hybrid of corn mint, watermint, and spearmint. This makes the taste a fruity type of spearmint, giving it a sweetness that works well in candy, salads, and teas. Like many other mints, red raripila loves full sun and is best grown in pots.
Adding Minty Freshness
Mint lovers, rejoice. You have so many minty options to grow and play with in your cooking. With so many varieties of mint, we suspect that even non-mint lovers will find one they adore.
Don't forget that this fragrant family of herbs has many culinary uses beyond adding to candy and cookies. Add mint to stews, fish, meat dishes, and salad dressings. And mint makes an especially pretty cocktail garnish and a tasty cocktail ingredient. Mojitos, anyone?