By Jackie Carroll
Pineapple mint plants (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’) are among the most attractive varieties of mints. There are a number of pineapple mint uses that make this versatile plant well worth growing. Use it in beverages, as an attractive garnish, in potpourris and in any dish that calls for mint. It makes an attractive and fragrant ground cover, and also grows well in containers and hanging baskets.
The only problem with pineapple mint is that it spreads vigorously. This can be good if you want to use it as a ground cover to fill an area, but it will eventually find its way into the rest of the garden unless you install a deep edging around it. Growing pineapple mint in containers is a good way to keep this and other mints under control, but you’ll still need to take some precautions. The plant has been known to escape through the drainage holes in the bottoms of pots and even jump from pot to pot in container groupings.
What is Pineapple Mint?
Pineapple mint is a variegated cultivar of apple mint (Mentha suaveolens). It features attractive, variegated leaves, usually with white margins, on plants that grow up to a foot tall. The leaves are bumpy and hairy, and the white edging can make them look as though they are sporting a ruffle.
White or light pink flowers bloom on small spikes at the top of the plant in summer. The flowers attract a wide variety pollinating insects, including bees and butterflies. Deer dislike strong fragrances and hairy leaves, so they have two reasons to dislike pineapple mint.
How to Care for Pineapple Mint
Keep the soil evenly moist until the plants are well-established. Once they are growing well, you’ll only need to water them during dry spells.
The plants don’t need regular fertilization when planted in good garden soil. Older plants become woody and unattractive. Pull them up and let younger plants fill in the empty space.
Pinch out the growing tips of pineapple mint plants regularly to keep them compact and bushy. You may occasionally find solid green sprigs of mint mixed in with your pineapple mint. These are sprigs of apple mint – the parent plant of the pineapple mint cultivar. You should pinch them out as you find them because, like most variegated plants, pineapple mint isn’t as vigorous as its non-variegated parent plant, and the apple mint will soon take over.