My Favorite Types of Mint to Grow Indoors or in the Garden
Whether you’re planning next year’s herb garden or looking for an easy window-sill plant- members of the mint (“mentha”) family are among the easiest herbs to grow at home. The best part? There’s no shortage of things you can make with fresh mint and very easy to grow indoors. From mint pesto to mint tea and mojitos, it’s an amazing plant to have for numerous culinary purposes. Here are 20 different kinds of mint plant to consider adding to your backyard or balcony garden.
- 20 Popular Types of Mint to Grow at Home:
- The final word…
20 Popular Types of Mint to Grow at Home:
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is probably the most well-known member of the mint family. It’s often the preferred mint flavor used in toothpaste, teas, sweets, and peppermint oil. It’s also one of the most versatile mints on this list and incredibly easy to grow.
This prolific member of the mint family prefers rich, well-draining soil and will take anything from full sun to part shade. Peppermint grows in USDA zones five through nine and typically reaches anywhere from 12 inches to two feet tall.
If you don’t have space for it outside, peppermint can also make for a really great houseplant. Just be sure to give it lots of water at the base- and avoid pouring water directly over the mint leaves as this can lead to a fungus known as “mint rust.”
Another well-known mint, spearmint (Mentha spicata), is a popular flavor in chewing gums, candies, and tea. It also makes a great topping on salads and Asian-inspired entrées.
This fragrant plant is easily differentiated from other members of the mint family by its spiky, almost “spear-shaped” leaves. Much like peppermint, spearmint enjoys rich wet soil that drains well and can be happy in full to partial sun in USDA zones five through nine.
3) Apple mint
Have a bare patch of soil that needs some ground cover? Then you just might want to give Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) a try. This hearty mint grows so well outdoors that many consider it to be invasive.
Typically grown in USDA zones five through nine in that same well-drained soil, apple mint (sometimes called pineapple mint) also makes for a great culinary herb. Known for its rich, fruity flavor, apple mint is the perfect addition to a glass of cold iced tea or crisp fruit salad on a hot day.
Often confused for catnip (Nepeta cataria), catmint (Nepeta mussinii) is a distinct species of the same genus, which derives its name from the ancient Roman city of Nepete, where it was used in tea and as an insect repellent.
Nowadays, catmint makes for a stunning and easy garden addition, with its vibrant lilac-colored flowers and gray-green foliage. Catmint is still widely consumed in tea, making a particularly delicious cold infusion.
Besides looking (and tasting) great, catmint is often used for its medicinal qualities and is known to calm frayed nerves and help with menstrual cramping.
5) Lavender mint
Lavender mint (Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’) is about as easy to grow as any other kind of mint, although it does prefer slightly different growing zones (three through seven).
This floral-scented variety also strongly resembles classic peppermint, with the characteristic red square stem and its notorious ability to take over your entire garden.
Like most mints, lavender mint should be planted cautiously and in an area with plenty of space for it to spread. If your garden lacks space for a large mint patch, consider planting it into a decorative pot on your porch or into a buried pot in the ground to keep it under control.
6) Ginger mint
A cross between spearmint and wild mint, ginger mint (Mentha gracilis) can often be hard to differentiate from spearmint, except in cases where the leaves are variegated (which appear as bright yellow stripes).
Ginger mint is often enjoyed as a topping on fruit salads or grilled meats, and it’s best picked as fresh new shoots emerge in spring.
Because of its genetic associations with wild mint, ginger mint is one of the hardiest varieties you can grow. This also means it can be one of the fastest spreaders. Consider growing your ginger mint in a pot or keeping a very close eye on its progress in your garden.
7) Basil mint
The scent of basil mint (Mentha piperita f. citrata) will change the way you look at mint forever. Both spicy and sweet, this hardy mint hybrid is a fantastic addition to both the garden and kitchen.
With light purple flowers and red-tinted stems and leaves, basil mint looks nearly as good as it tastes. It’s also the perfect finishing touch in just about any tomato-based dish you can imagine.
If you’re lucky enough to find this variety of mint at your local nursery, you might just want to grab it. Because of its pungent smell, basil mint is also a great companion plant to other legumes in your outdoor garden, as its hearty aroma acts as a powerful insect repellent.
Known for producing a near-constant array of white blooms in the summer months, calamint (Calamintha nepeta) is an ornamental favorite in the mint family. Like most mints, calamint is a super spreader- making it an excellent choice for container gardening.
Calamint is highly aromatic and grows best in sandy soil. Due to its high menthol content, the herb is also widely used in culinary and topical medicinal applications.
9) Wild mint
Also known as field mint or corn mint, wild mint (Mentha arvensis) is native to North America and grows abundantly throughout most temperate regions of the US. Wild mint produces tiny bell-shaped flowers in pink, white, and purple varieties- making it another favorite for gardeners.
Wild mint enjoys wet, rich soil to maintain its verdant and highly aromatic foliage. While the leaves are often used in various culinary applications, the flowers are known to be toxic. As with any wild plant, you should always use extreme caution when picking it outside the realms of your own garden.
Pennyroyal is one of those plant names that actually can refer to two different kinds of plants- the American pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) or the European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium). For the sake of keeping it in the family, we’ll be talking about European pennyroyal.
Like other members of the mint family, European pennyroyal enjoys moist soil and grows best in full sun to part shade within USDA zones five through nine.
Often used as an ornament in hanging baskets, European pennyroyal loves to trail in long luscious tendrils. Be cautious with this member of the mint family as it’s been known to complicate some pregnancies. For this reason, pennyroyal should not be handled (or ingested) by pregnant women.
11) Cuban mint
Best known as the key ingredient in mojitos, cuban mint (Mentha villosa) is another great addition to your culinary garden. Native to Cuba, this highly aromatic member of the mint family is known for having the perfect balance of minty flavor so cherished by mojito-drinkers everywhere.
Easy to grow and hardy in USDA zones five through nine, cuban mint is a favorite pollinator that produces fragrant white flowers. It can grow up to two feet tall and is best planted in full sun or partial shade.
12) Water mint
As the name would suggest, water mint (Mentha aquatica) enjoys growing in or near bodies of water. Native to parts of Europe and Asia along streams and riverbeds, water mint is an incredibly fragrant pollinator with purplish green leaves and violet-blue flowers.
For best results with water mint, plant it in USDA zones eight to eleven near the edge of a pond or other water source. Like many mints, water mint likes full sun and will spread quickly when left unattended- so be sure to monitor its progress in your water garden.
13) Corsican mint
Another excellent ground cover, Corsican mint (Mentha requienii) is a fast-grower that does best in full or part sun and will thrive in most soil types. While this type of mint works well to fill in small empty patches of garden, it prefers spots with low foot traffic-as its delicate leaves bruise and damage easily.
Don’t have an outdoor spot for Corsican mint? Try growing it indoors. Use lightweight soil and plant your mint in a well-draining pot with partial sun for best results.
14) Chocolate mint
The verdict is still out on whether or not this mint really tastes like its namesake. However, chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’) is still a wonderful plant to add to your culinary garden regardless of its sweet undertones (or lack thereof).
With cocoa-colored stems and distinct serrated leaves, chocolate mint has all the great qualities of other mints, including its ability to spread and thrive in most environments. If you’re worried your sweet new plant might get a little too comfortable in your garden, consider planting it in a pot.
15) Orange mint
Like many of the mints on this list, orange mint (Mentha piperita citrata) is another favorite hybrid- known for its unique citrus aroma. As you can imagine, this mint is a great addition to a variety of dishes and even artisanal drinks- from refreshing lemonades to craft cocktails.
With tall pink and white flowers that serve as excellent pollinators, orange mint makes for a beautiful addition to your summer garden. This mint hybrid prefers rich soil and full sun. Plant it in a container underground to keep it from spreading too far.
16) Curly mint
If kale and mint got together, it would probably look something like curly mint (‘Crispa’ Mentha spicata). Like its relatives, curly mint is super easy to grow and makes for a great addition to various warm-weather dishes.
Because of its distinct appearance, curly mint is most often used as a garnish. But these tall frilly plants can do more than spruce up an entree- they’re also pretty great pollinators. Plant your curly mint in full to part sun in USDA zones five to eleven.
17) Banana mint
Known for its slight banana aroma, banana mint (Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’) is also an excellent choice for its unique foliage. With larger, rounder leaves than many other mint varieties and small purplish flowers- it’s also a great attractor for bees and butterflies.
Like most mints, banana mint is fairly low-maintenance. Plant it in moist, well-draining soil and full sun to part shade for the best results.
18) Lemon Balm
Believe it or not, the famous lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is actually part of the mint family. This becomes more apparent when you see it in person- with the mint family’s characteristic square stems and serrated leaves.
Widely used in teas and other medicinal applications, lemon balm is also relatively easy to grow, gives off a delicious lemon scent during the summer, and has small white flowers that will attract plenty of pollinators. To get the most out of your lemon balm, be sure to plant it in full sun with well-draining soil.
19) Red raparilla mint
While it can be challenging to find, red raparilla mint (Mentha x smithiana) is a fantastic hybrid plant known for its powerful essential oils. As a hybrid of field mint, watermint, and spearmint, it has a unique appearance with red-green leaves and square red stems.
Red raparilla is a favorite for vegetable gardeners as its powerful aroma wards off insects and other pests. If you’re lucky enough to find a red raparilla mint, be sure to plant it in full sun to enhance the production of its essential oils.
20) Licorice mint
Hardy in zones five to eleven, licorice mint grows to be an impressive four feet tall and acts as an amazing pollinator, attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all summer long. Despite dying back to the ground every fall, licorice mint is a powerful self-seeder and will reliably reappear like magic each spring.
The final word…
Mint is one of those plants that’s a bit of a no-brainer. Whether you’re a new gardener or a seasoned one, the highly forgiving attitude of mint (not to mention the culinary perks) makes it a great addition to most outdoor or indoor herb gardens. Plant your mint strategically around vegetables to keep out pests, or give it a corner all to itself. Just be sure to harvest often and keep a close eye on it, as many mint plant varieties have been known to take over entire gardens when left unchecked.
Larissa is a writer, gardener, and herbalist living in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Her writing has been widely published in lifestyle and personal finance publications all over the country, and she's also the creator of the weekly newsletter @rootedintribe.