By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Mints are aromatic garden plants that have so many culinary and medicinal uses; everyone loves them. There are as many flavors of mint as there is ice cream. Varieties include chocolate, banana, apple, spearmint, peppermint, orange, ginger, and the ever popular lavender mint plants. Mints are attractive plants and make delightful additions to teas, soups, cold drinks, salads and desserts. Lavender mint has delicate purple flowers and is hardy in USDA growing zones 3 – 7.
Growing Lavender Mint
Growing lavender mint (Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’) is not difficult, as mint is generally not fussy and a perfect starter plant for those just getting into gardening. Like peppermint, lavender mint plants have a red stem and delicious floral overtones.
One caveat that must be mentioned about growing any type of mint is its invasive nature. Once mint gets started, it runs like a freight train throughout the garden. It is best to contain lavender mint in a fairly shallow, but wide pot, for best results. It is also a good idea not to combine different types of mints together but give them each their own space.
You can also put mint in large tin cans or buckets with open bottoms and bury them in the garden to keep plants contained. However, if you have a large open space and require a perennial groundcover, lavender mint is a good choice, as it tolerates some shade and will grow well under trees and shrubs as long as it gets a little sun daily.
Although mints are not particular about the soil, if you grow it in a pot, be sure to use a loamy soil that drains well.
Care of Lavender Mint
Mint plants are a breeze to care for and are often called the perfect lazy gardeners companion. Care of lavender plant in a pot is minimal as long as you make sure that the soil does not become overly dry.
Keep the soil evenly moist and offer more water during especially dry times. A layer of mulch helps mint plants in the ground retain moisture.
Mint can be cut back in the fall and mulched for overwintering. To share mint, dig and divide plants or start new plants from leaf cuttings.
How to Use Lavender Mint
Like other mints, the lavender mint family is remarkably versatile. This mint is equally at home in the kitchen as it is in the medicine cabinet. Most often used dry for potpourris and teas, lavender mint is also a key ingredient in a number of personal care products including lip balms, shampoos and creams.
Add a sprig or two of lavender mint to your salads, pastas or soups for a taste enhancer. Fresh lavender mint is also a pleasant addition to a glass of cold lemonade or on top of a dish of fresh strawberries.