Mint is native to the Mediterranean, but spread into Britain and eventually to America. The Pilgrims brought mint with them on their first journey overseas. One of the most favored of the mint plants is spearmint (Mentha spicata). This highly aromatic plant is valued for its culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic use.
Spearmint resembles peppermint, though spearmint plants have bright green leaves that are pointed, and lavender flower spikes that grow up to 4 inches (10 cm.) long. When planted in ideal conditions, spearmint will reach a mature height and width of 12 to 24 inches (31-61 cm.). Growing spearmint plants in the garden is a rewarding and useful experience.
How to Grow Spearmint
Learning how to grow spearmint isn’t much different than growing other mint plants. Spearmint is a hardy perennial up to USDA plant hardiness Zone 5 that grows best in partial shade with well-draining, rich, moist soil and a pH of 6.5 to 7. Mint is easiest to grow from plants, but you can sow seed once the ground has warmed in the spring. Keep seeds moist until they germinate and thin plants to 1 foot (31 cm.) apart.
Spearmint, once planted, takes off quickly and can take over quickly as well. Many people question how to plant spearmint due to its invasive nature. Some cautious gardeners grow spearmint in hanging baskets or containers to avoid having to pull out runners constantly.
Another way to plant spearmint if you want it in the garden is to plant it in a 5-gallon (18.9 L.) pot with the bottom cut out. This will help keep the runners of growing spearmint plants from invading other spots of your garden.
Care of Spearmint
As with most types of mint, the care of spearmint is easy. Mint in the garden should be mulched annually to keep the roots cool and moist. Potted mint does best when fertilized monthly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer.
Divide plants every two years to keep them healthy. Prune potted plants regularly to keep neat and tidy. If you live in an area with very cold winters, it is best to bring potted spearmint indoors and place in a sunny window.
Knowing how to plant spearmint correctly in the garden will provide you with years of lasting beauty and usefulness.