Mint is a groundcover that often gets overlooked. Because of its reputation for being an aggressive spreader, many gardeners avoid planting it in the yard. However, if you plant mint in the right spot, you can keep it under control and add a tasty and beautiful culinary herb to your garden.
The first step is to select the varieties. While we are all familiar with peppermint and spearmint, there are also some unusual mints that are worth a try.
Chocolate Peppermint: This variation on common peppermint features minty-chocolate-scented leaves with dark coloring. While the flavor doesn’t evoke memories of Lindt chocolates, the mint chocolate scent reminds me of Girl Scout cookies.
Ginger Mint: Ginger mint is a cross between corn mint and spearmint. It has that refreshing spearmint flavor, and some selections have leaves with attractive yellow stripes.
Orange Mint: If you’re looking for a more fruity-flavored mint, try orange mint. This plant has a tangy flavor similar to that of bergamot tea.
Apple Mint: Apple mint has wooly leaves with a fresh apple scent. A variation of apple mint is pineapple mint, with variegated leaves and a pineapple-like fragrance.
The one downside of mint is its aggressive nature. It’s best to grow it in an area where it can spread unimpeded or to plant it in containers. Another way to slow mint’s growth in the garden is to plant it in containers and then sink the containers into the ground. You still may be cutting the mint back in spring, but it won’t take over.
If you give mint part to full sun and moist, well-drained soil, it will be in your garden for years. Consider planting mint under fruits trees or large shrubs. Not only will it act as an attractive groundcover, but the flowers will attract beneficial insects and bees that can help with pest control and pollination. Mint also looks great in containers mixed with other herbs such as lemon balm and sage.