In everyday life we ​​encounter the ingredients of spearmint everywhere. It unfolds its refreshing and at the same time hearty-sweet aroma in chewing gum or toothpaste, as well as in steaming tea or as a seasoning. Fresh from our own herb garden, the Mentha spicata spoils the palate and nose much more intensively. When its distinctive spikes blossom over ruffled leaves, spearmint proves its talent as a feast for the eyes. In view of these qualities, the spearmint has long since conquered a regular place in well-stocked home and ornamental gardens. The mint plant is surprisingly undemanding, so that the enthusiastic gourmet chef turns into a hobby gardener in order to cultivate the spearmint himself.

cultivation

Since spearmint, also known as spearmint, is one of the most well-known types of mint and has been cultivated in Europe for a very long time, a wealth of experience has been accumulated in terms of cultivation and care. This includes the knowledge that direct sowing of Mentha spicata has to accept a high loss rate because most of the seeds and seedlings end up in the hungry stomachs of birds, snails and other animals. Sowing under glass is much more promising for cultivation, provided the gardener is not planning to purchase a ready-prepared plant.

The best time for growing under glass is from March to June.

  • Fill a seed tray with nutrient-poor potting soil or a peat-sand mixture.
  • Scatter the seeds on top and simply press on as a light germinator.
  • Place in a warm, bright window seat, heated greenhouse or conservatory.
  • Keep substrate and seeds slightly moist until germination.
  • A glass cover or transparent film supports the appropriate micro-climate.

Germination begins after 10 to 14 days. The strongest specimens are placed in individual pots when at least 1 pair of distinctive true leaves has developed in addition to the cotyledons. The nursery pots are already filled with slightly more nutritious soil. We recommend a mixture of your own, consisting of 10-30% good garden soil, 20-40% garden compost, 5-10% sand and 30-40% leaf soil or green waste compost. Once the young spearmint plants have reached a height of 10 cm to 15 cm and the growing pot has developed roots, it is time to plant them out in the bed, in the bucket or in the herb spiral.

Mentha spicata that are sown in the cold frame are better hardened for growth in the open air. As long as the weather is still at risk of frost, the experienced hobby gardener fills in a 20 cm to 30 cm thick layer of manure so that the seed is warmed up from below. In addition, the cover is covered overnight with a cold-insulating layer of straw.

location

Spearmint is now available in an almost unmistakable variety of varieties, which largely correspond in terms of location requirements. Once the hobby gardener has internalized the cultivation of this plant species, there is nothing wrong with trying a new variety every year.

  • In sunny locations, spearmint thrives particularly luxuriantly.
  • Partial shade is tolerated, but with slight reductions in aroma.
  • Humic, nutrient-rich bedding soil, slightly moist, not too sandy and well-drained.
  • Special herb and vegetable soil is suitable for pot culture.

If commercially available potting soil is available, the spearmint accepts this as a substrate in the same way and quickly stretches out its roots in it. The adaptable Mentha spicata does not let itself be irritated even by short-term waterlogging at the location.

Tip: It is definitely an advantage to choose an air-flushed place for the spearmint, because the faster rain or dewdrops dry on the leaves, the less chance there is of rot and fungal infections.

plant

Once a favorite location has emerged, it is important to consider one of the few shortcomings that spearmint suffers from: the plant tends to become rampant. This circumstance initially plays a role in the choice of planting neighbors. Perennial herbs, such as Mentha spicata, do not get along very well with annual plants, even if they are also heavy feeders. In addition, the busy hobby gardener should not be tempted to place different varieties of spearmint next to each other. The aromas, some of which differ significantly, mix within a short time, which is certainly not in the chef’s interest.

  • Plant young spearmint preferably from May so that it does not suffer a cold shock.
  • Thoroughly loosen the potting soil at the chosen location and remove weeds.
  • Meanwhile, place the still potted Mentha spicata in water.
  • Dig a planting hole 1.5 times the size of the root ball.
  • Enrich the excavation with good garden compost and use the plant.
  • Press down the soil and water generously.

If the experienced hobby gardener finds the garden soil too sandy and poor in nutrients, he adds herb or potting soil and a little clay as part of the soil preparation. So that the spearmint does not spread its runners uncontrollably, it is either placed in a plastic pot in the ground or surrounded by a root barrier.

The neighborhood problem solves itself if the garden lover plants the spearmint in the bucket. The volume of the planter varies depending on the variety, because the different growth heights of 30 cm to 100 cm require an adjusted container size.

watering and fertilizing

Spearmint’s substantial biomass continuously evaporates moisture, resulting in high water consumption. In relation to the additional nutrient supply, the condition of the soil determines the extent of fertilization.

  • Only dry spearmint but do not let it dry out.
  • Water daily on warm summer days, preferably in the morning or evening.
  • From April to September fertilize organically from time to time.

The dosage of the fertilizer requires a sure instinct, as the leaves may take on its taste. In humus-rich potting soil, fertilizer is therefore completely dispensed with.

Note: Spearmint that has been planted in pots in pre-fertilised herb or potting soil will only receive additional nutrients from the second year of growth at the earliest.

To cut

The strong-growing spearmint may be pruned several times a year if a dominant width is undesirable. At least a double cut is recommended.

  • Cut back the Mentha spicata to just above the ground in early spring.
  • Once again, immediately after flowering, prune the shoots vigorously.

Since a flower is extremely exhausting for the spearmint, experienced hobby gardeners often decide to cut before the show of strength begins. In addition, since the aroma content of the leaves is explicitly high shortly before they bloom, harvesting and pruning go hand in hand in this case.

hibernate

Without exception, all varieties are hardy down to – 24° Celsius. Accordingly, no precautions need to be taken outdoors when the cold season is approaching. Of course, spearmint in a tub is subject to the risk of its root ball freezing through.

  • Place Mentha spicata in the planter on a cold-insulating block of wood or polystyrene.
  • Wrap the tub in bubble wrap and place in a sheltered corner.
  • Cover the root area with a thick layer of foliage or straw.

Typical frost damage to hardy bedding plants does not cause frostbite, but manifests itself in dried spearmint. Inexperienced hobby gardeners underestimate the evaporation via the leaves, while at the same time the roots can no longer draw water from the frozen ground. Therefore, on frost-free days, the spearmint should not be neglected to be watered, even if it was cut back to the ground in autumn.

multiply

Once spearmint has been used in the home as a kitchen spice, tea leaf or medicinal herb, many a hobby gardener desires more specimens. In addition to sowing, there are various uncomplicated propagation methods to choose from:

foothills

  • Dig up a piece of root and cut it so that it has 1-2 nodes.
  • Fill a seed pot with herb soil or a peat-sand mixture.
  • Plant the runners in it and keep them constantly moist.
  • When the rhizome sprout, a root system forms synchronously in the substrate.
  • When the pot is fully rooted, the new Mentha spicata is planted out.

cuttings

  • Take 10 cm to 15 cm long cuttings in early summer.
  • Defoliate the lower area and stick in potting soil.
  • Water regularly in a warm place that is not in full sun.
  • New leaves signal that rooting is working.

division

  • Dig up the bedding plant or unpot the container plant.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 or more pieces.
  • Plant it again immediately and care for it like an adult Spearmint.

As part of the propagation, it is essential to ensure that the offspring are sufficiently supplied with moisture without waterlogging. After transplanting them into the bed or bucket, there is still a considerable need for water. Only well-established spearmint can withstand a brief drought.

harvesting and drying

After the spearmint sprout again in spring, the garden lover should be patient at least until June before beginning the harvest. With a sharp knife, the complete stalks are cut off. The tender leaves of the fresh shoots are just as tempting as the highly aromatic harvest just before flowering. What is not immediately freshly processed can be preserved by drying. Simply tie the shoots together into small bouquets and hang them upside down in a dark, warm and airy place. Mentha spicata is very crumbly when dried and should therefore be handled with care when removing the leaves from the stems. Without long delay, they go into a sealed glass jar and sit in a dark, cool place until ready to use.

Tip: Spearmint is also suitable for the freezer. Place the fresh, dry leaves individually on an ice cube tray and place in the freezer.

Popular Varieties

As a plant species, spearmint offers a wide variety of varieties, which is constantly being expanded with further crossings. The following breeds have turned out to be particularly appealing.

Dunkle Spearmint (Mentha spicata ‚Black Spearmint‘)

  • Growth height 40 cm to 90 cm
  • Dark red leaves fading into green.
  • Exudes the typical ‘chewing gum aroma’.

English spearmint (Mentha spicata ‘English Greens’)

  • Growth height 80 cm to 100 cm.
  • Beautiful lilac flowers from July to August.
  • A popular classic for mint sauces and drinks.

Moroccan mint (Mentha spicata var. crispa ‘Morocco’)

  • Growth height 30 cm to 60 cm
  • White flowers from July to August.
  • The most popular tea mint worldwide.

Turkish mint (Mentha spicata var. crispa ‘Nane’)

  • Growth height 40 cm to 80 cm.
  • Pale lilac spikes from July to August.
  • A traditional tea and spice plant in the Orient.

This is just a small excerpt from the fragrant, full-bodied and decorative world that spearmint has to offer hobby gardeners and connoisseurs.

Conclusion
Gardeners all over Europe have been cultivating spearmint with enthusiasm for generations. With their fresh scent and the spicy-sweet taste, beyond all spiciness, the prettily curled leaves are widely used in every household. At the same time, they adorn beds and balconies with distinctive flower spikes from July to August/September. Cultivation and care are limited to a few components, with the focus on regular watering and taking into account their rampant foothills.

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