By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Leaves of chocolate mint plants add versatility to drinks, desserts and garnishes for a variety of dishes you prepare in the kitchen. Growing chocolate mint, both indoors and outside, is an easy way to always have a fresh supply of the chocolate herb plant.
Chocolate mint plants (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’) are attractive, fragrant and easy to grow. As with most square-stemmed members of the mint family, growing chocolate mint can take over the area in which it is planted in the ground, readily and quickly.
When learning how to care for chocolate mint, know that it must be contained in some way to avoid the rapid spread of the chocolate herb plant. Horror stories of the escape of uncontained chocolate mint are shared by gardeners who planted it directly in the ground, only for it to take over the bed or spread to a neighbor’s property where it must then be removed.
How to Grow and Harvest Chocolate Mint
Growing chocolate mint in containers is easy. Regular pinching and division keeps chocolate mint healthy, full and under control. Mature brownish red stems and attractive serrated leaves become full after pinching out the tips. Use the leaves in your dishes and drinks. Longer stems of the chocolate herb plant can be clipped for rooting more plants. Learning how to grow and harvest chocolate mint provides a regular supply of the fragrant leaves, which may be used fresh or dried for later use.
Growing chocolate mint outside in pots that can be placed in full to partial sun is easy. Once you have a cutting rooted, you likely won’t need to get another plant. Yearly division of the contents of the pot results in an abundance of plants, for you or to share with friends and family so that everyone has a container of the useful chocolate herb plant.
If you want to grow the chocolate herb plant in a garden with other herbs, plant the entire container and sink it into the ground. Don’t remove the bottom of the pot. Roots of the growing chocolate mint plant may escape through drainage holes, but you can remove the container once in awhile and clip off any roots that grow from drainage holes. You can also include it in a chocolate themed garden with other chocolate plants.
Learning how to care for chocolate mint is simple too. Water and fertilize occasionally and grow in full sun for maximum flavor. Harvest throughout the growing season, unless you want the plant to display its attractive pink flowers in late spring to midsummer. If so, clip after flowering. Root new cuttings in late summer to bring inside for the winter.