Although full sun tolerant, mint will thrive in a partly shaded area with plenty of moisture. Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed, spacing plants 12-24″ apart in dry-moist, average soil that is well-drained. Drought tolerant. Plant height 12-18″.
To keep plants looking their best, cut plants back regularly by a third periodically to promote a fuller appearance. In the fall, you can cut the plants just above ground level. Be sure to mulch over the top if winters are harsh in your area. Mulch annually with well-rotted compost for best results.
Does well in containers or mixed pots. Attracts bees and butterflies. Deer, insect and mouse resistant.
Mint, Kentucky Colonel mentha spicata
Kentucky Colonel Mint is the wrinkled leaf form of the variety of mints called Mentha spicata, or “spearmint”. This fragrant herb was transported by the conquistadors and is sometimes called the “conquistador’s footprint”. It is found in abundance in Central America and throughout the southwestern US. Kentucky Colonel Mint sports lavender flowers on tall pointed spikes and is an easy plant to grow for beginner gardeners. The traditional mint used to make Mint Juleps.
Mints attract a number of good pollinators to the garden. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are attracted to the mint when it flowers, however allowing your mint to go to flower will make the leaves taste bitter. Mints have a tendency to be quite invasive; so many people plant their mints in pots or containers. They become root bound quite easily, so division and re-potting is essential to good maintenance.
If you’d like to keep mint in your garden, try planting your seedlings in bottomless number ten cans, or surround them with a barrier that is at least ten inches deep – laundry baskets work well for this. Just be sure to drill plenty of holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. It has been noted that Kentucky Colonel mint may be somewhat less invasive and easier to control than other mints, even when planted in the ground. If you have a damp spot in your garden area, consider planting mint as a ground cover as it likes a moist soil. Remove old woody growth as needed to allow newer, younger plants to fill in. At the end of the growing season, cut plants back to just above ground level.
Mint is best when used fresh. Dried mint, when stored in airtight containers, will retain its flavor and scent. To harvest, gather bunches and hang on drying racks or spread on screens until completely dry.