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Explore the World of Mint

August 28, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany people hear “mint” and think spearmint or peppermint. There is much more to the mint world! There is much in common between varieties – they’re typically hardy and easy to grow. They can be invasive if not contained. And the wonderful flavor of mint adds to food as well as tea.

If you’ve not met the other members of the mint family consider these!

Chocolate mint is hardy and easy to grow, with a purple tint to the stems and veins of the leaves. .So often I mention chocolate mint and people picture a strong peppermint covered candy…chocolate mint is more subtle. There’s a hint of chocolate flavor. It whispers where peppermint yells. Chocolate mint is an attractive plant that would do well confined in raised beds or containers. We have some planted in the holes of concrete blocks. They aren’t fussy about soil and can handle a spot that is shaded for part of the day. Flowers are light purple and it’s known to attract butterflies as well as culinary uses.

Apple mint is another member of the mint family. A hint of apple that blends well with chamomile for tea, apple mint has an edge to the leaf that is almost ornamental. Slightly lighter green color to the leaves it does not have the dark stem color of the chocolate mint. The apple mint will have white flowers and is about two feet tall before trimming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALime mint is a little different type of mint. I first started this variety in 2009 and it smelled wonderful when brushed against – a cheery scent of lime, but it did not taste lime. It almost tasted like a bad spearmint – but this year it has settled in and the hint of lime is there! Small light purple flowers top this variety when it flowers, looking almost like a clover flower and a distinct lime smell comes from the plant.

Orange mint is another variety giving a hint of flavor paired with mint. Like other mints it is fast growing and best contained to keep it from invading where you don’t want it! The plants send out ‘runners’ that spread quickly until the runner (root strand) is stopped.

Lilac mint is another option. Like the other flavors it can be used in tea, salads or other foods. Warm honey or oil and add a few bruised leaves of mint to make flavored honey or oil.

Explore the world of mint! Go beyond the peppermint and spearmint introduction.

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