How to Grow Mint
for herbal tea

Learning how to grow mint is easy. Deciding how many different flavors to grow? That's the challenge!

Spearmint in the garden

At last count, I now have 6 different flavors of mint in my tea garden ... with more to come, I'm sure!

So, be prepared. Mint madness could easily strike you, too.  You can thank me later!  ;-)

Which Mints To Grow

There's no need to go crazy at first ... unless you want to, of course.

For beginner herbal tea gardeners, growing just a few varieties of mint will give you a good start. 

Each of these varieties is delicious when brewed alone. Even better, they all combine nicely with other herbs for custom-made tea blends.


close-up of live spearmint plant

This ever-popular mint should have a spot in every garden and tea pot!

More mellow than peppermint  (thanks to its lower menthol content), spearmint's natural sweetness makes it a perfect single-herb hot or iced tea.

chocolate mint

chocolate mint growing in a container

Chocolate mint is easy to grow and makes a wonderfully fragrant tea. 

Although some people claim they can't detect much chocolate flavor in this mint, I sure can! It reminds me of my favorite after-dinner mints: Andes candies.

apple mint

velvety green leaves of apple mint

The soft,  downy leaves of apple mint are a delight to the touch and to the taste. 

Brewed into an herbal tea,  it has a smooth apple flavor with just a bare hint of mint.  

orange mint

orange mint plant

For a healthy, caffeine-free, pick-me-up beverage, a cup of orange mint tea will give you a little peppery kick, balanced by undertones of orange.  

It's wonderful when combined with other citrus-y scented herbs like lemon balm and lemongrass!

Where To Plant Mint

Take a peek in an old-timer's backyard. There's a good chance you'll find a big ol' patch of mint growing like gangbusters right under a drippy outdoor faucet.

The occasional drip, drip, drip creates an evenly moist (not swampy-wet) conditions it likes. Give it a little afternoon shade and average to rich soil, and you have mint paradise!  

Good to Know

Mints are hardy from 5° to -20° F (-20° to -29° C), depending on variety. In very hot or very cold regions, they can be grown in planters with appropriate shelter from the elements.

Starting a Mint Tea Garden

The most reliable way to begin growing mint is from "starter plants" - either nursery grown or from a friend's garden.

FYI: Don't hesitate to ask a friend for a few root divisions from their garden! 

With the ambitious way mint grows and multiplies, I can't imagine anyone would deny your request. I'm happy to give them away by the bucketful!

live sprigs of mint with roots

This is tough stuff, so you don't have to treat it especially carefully. But you should keep the roots damp until you're ready to stick them in the ground.

Wrapped in wet paper towels and kept in a shady spot, the rootings will be just fine for a few hours. Set in a vase of fresh water, they'll be okay for several days. 

At planting time:   

  • prepare your planting area, making sure the soil is weed, clump, and rock-free

  • dig a "trench" in the soil that's large enough to hold a single root division with a little extra room to spare

  • set the root division in the trench, backfill with soil, gently firm the soil around the roots, and water in thoroughly  

That's all there is to it. Keep your new plants evenly moist and out of scorching sun, and they'll begin sprouting new growth in a week or two. 

Caring For Mint Plants

  • Water Requirements - mint likes evenly moist soil, so water regularly but not too much 

  • Fertilizing - little, if any, required

    For garden-grown mint, a very light top-dressing of compost in the spring is enough to keep your plants happy throughout the growing season. 

    Container-grown mints can use a little extra help. A twice-a-month feeding of organic liquid fertilizer is enough to keep them happy. I add this fertilizer to my watering can at 1/2 the strength recommended on the bottle.

    Note: Over-feeding your mint plants will give you lots of pretty leaves - with very little flavor. When it comes to fertilizing mint, less is better.

  • Pruning - no special pruning required

    Once the plant is well established and growing heartily, cut mint sprigs as often as you like for fresh mint tea. That's the only "pruning" necessary.

Controlling your Mint Plants

Be forewarned: Mint can be very invasive. If left to its own devices, it knows no boundaries.

Without any restraints on its liberty, this herb will send its "runners" far and wide - as this one did, right into my neighbor's pachysandra ... 

mint plant overgrown into pachysandra garden

If you don't want your mints to spread into the next county ... contain them!  

Pretty much any type of container will work just fine, as long as it has good drainage.  

Some of my mints live in ordinary terra cotta or plastic pots ...

mint in planter on backyard deck

Others have a more unusual home ...

apple mint growing in windowbox

My nephew grows his mints alongside other herbs in an EarthBox planter tucked into a semi-shady spot on his lanai ... 

mojito mint with other herbs in an earthbox garden

And then, there's my all-time favorite mint corral ...

variety of mints growing in a straw bale garden

Yep - those are runners you see trailing down the side of the straw bale. Be sure to snip the runners off before they hit the ground and take root!

Recommended:  Straw Bale Gardens

I first heard about straw bale gardening a couple years ago. Having no clue what it was or how to do it, but thinking that it'd be fun to give it a try - I did what I always do. I bought a book ;-)

Written by the guy who first came up with the concept, Straw Bale Gardens shows, step-by-step, how to turn a simple bale of straw  into a fully self-contained garden.   

Simple, fun, and best of all - it works like a charm!

handy items for growing mint ...

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