Mentha × piperita, commonly referred to as peppermint, is a hybrid species of mint, a combination of spearmint and watermint. It is native to Europe and the Middle East but is now spread across many continents, cultivated in many regions of the world, and it can even be found growing alongside its parent species in the wild.
Peppermint is very adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions, and it became an invasive species in Australia, New Zealand, the Galápagos Islands, and the Great Lakes region, in the United States.
Peppermint belongs to the extensive family of mint or Lamiaceae and if the plant is eaten or smashed, the leaves have a peppery, fresh, cool flavour. Everyone recognizes the refreshing taste of peppermint thanks to its extensive use in toothpaste or chewing gum, but this plant can offer so much more.
Mentha × piperita is a herb that does not need special attention when it comes to growing it in your own garden, and it will make a nice addition as you will be able to enjoy its fresh smell and use it in your teas or favourite recipes.
The peppermint plant is one of the oldest herbs used as a medicinal product or for culinary purposes. One great advantage about peppermint is that it is a safe plant for humans, but also for your dogs and cats, as it even helps with their digestion.
Curious to learn more about Mentha x piperita? Keep reading our guide and become a Peppermint expert!
|Mentha x piperita
|Hybrid perennial herb
|30 – 60 cm (12 to 24 in) tall
|Full sun, Partial shade
|Well-drained, loose, organically-rich soil
|Slightly acidic to neutral
|5 – 10 (USDA)
|Europe, Middle East
- Peppermint pertains to the Mentha genus, which comprises more than 25 species, but Mentha x piperita is one of the most commonly used.
- It is important to make the distinction between the Western peppermint, which is derived from Mentha x piperita and the Chinese peppermint, also known as “bohe” which is derived from Mentha haplocalyx, both species are used in medicine and in gastronomical fields.
- There are two varieties of peppermint: black and white. The black peppermint is commonly referred to as English peppermint or Mitcham mint and is very common in the United States. Black peppermint has purplish stems, and deep purple-green leaves and its stems have a higher content of oil. The white peppermint variety is not as hardy as black peppermint, and not as productive. However, it has a more delicate aroma, and it tends to be more expensive.
- The peppermint plant was first cultivated in the 1750s near London as a hybrid experiment between watermint and spearmint. Nowadays, this herb is found everywhere as a result of its high level of adaptability to a wide range of soil and weather conditions.
- Another reason for its vast and quick spread around the world is owed to its medicinal qualities. Once our ancestors became aware of the healing powers of peppermint they started to carry the plant everywhere with them.
- Peppermint is used in the gastronomical field too, both in sweet and savoury dishes. It can be used fresh or dried which means that you can enjoy its pleasant aroma all year long, with the mention that the fresh leaves have a stronger flavour than the dried ones. You can peppermint to chocolate, brownies or hot chocolate and at the same time, this herb goes really well in salad dressings or use as a condiment for different types of meat.
- As we mentioned earlier, peppermint has a fresh flavour and this is the main reason this herb is often used in drinks. There are many beverages to which peppermint is added to give them a refreshing flavour. Add it to your lemonade and it will improve its taste in no time. Also, peppermint can be mixed with spearmint to brew mint tea which is known for its medicinal benefits. When we talk about drinks, we cannot exclude the cocktails like mojitos or Mint Julep which also contain lots of peppermint leaves.
- Peppermint is the most popular flavour for non-chocolate, hard candies.
- Apart from its taste, Mentha × piperita adds a decorative look to your beverages as well, the green colour complements perfectly beverages that contain lemon or orange slices. If you want to garnish your drinks you will have to make sure that you use the freshest peppermint.
- Although you can buy precut peppermint from the grocery store, the best one is the one freshly cut from your own garden. Here are some tips on how you can store fresh peppermint: first you will have to thoroughly rinse and pat dry the fresh mint leaves to remove any soil residue and then just put the stems in a jar with water and store it in the refrigerator.
- Another great way to store peppermint is by freezing leaves in ice cubes for future use. Now you will have fresh Mentha × piperita on hand whenever you will need to garnish your favourite drinks.
- You can also store dry peppermint and use it in the kitchen at a later time. Dry the peppermint stems and flowers by hanging them upside down in a warm, dry area. Store the dried mint in a dry environment for up to 12 months.
Peppermint Features: An Overview
- Mentha × piperita is a perennial aromatic herb that can grow up between 30 to 60 cm tall, with smooth stems, square in cross-section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading and fleshy, bearing fibrous roots.
- The leaves can be 4 to 9 cm long and 1.5 to 4 cm broad. Their colour is dark green with red veins, with acute tips and margins that are coarsely jagged. Generally, the leaves and the stems are covered with fine threads.
- The blooms of Mentha × piperita are purple, 6 to 8 cm long, with a four-lobbed corolla about 5 cm in diameter, they appear vertically around the stem and form thick, blunt spines. The flowering season starts in the mid of the summer and ends late in the summer.
- In the case of Mentha × piperita, only the leaves of the plant are edible. The leaves and stems are used for oil production which is utilized in aromatherapy and in skincare products.
- The aroma of Peppermint leaves is most potent before the plant starts to put its energy into flower production. Therefore, the more you trim the plant back (down to an inch above ground level) the more greenery you get.
- Companion plants that you may grow with peppermint are oregano and marigolds which in this combination spread an aromatic forcefield across the garden. This mixture of plants also attracts plenty of beneficial pollinators and deters pests. Peppermint planted between carrots, cabbage, cauliflower or kale helps repel harmful insects like carrot fly, white cabbage moth or flea beetles.
Peppermint is one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate both outdoors and indoors. It can grow up to one meter tall depending on the environmental conditions, and in summer it produces pale purple flowers that grow around the stem. It is a versatile plant as it has a lot of uses in sweet or savoury dishes, beverages, aromatherapy, remedies against pests and is also used in fragrances.
Generally, the Mentha × piperita plant is considered to be an invasive grower so you will have to consider planting your peppermint in a container in order to control how much it will spread in your garden. Usually, it is planted in early spring after the last frost of the winter has passed. The plant can endure the frost, but just quick episodes that do not last for a long time as it cannot bear temperatures that remain cold for extended amounts of time.
- Mint is a perennial herb with fragrant, toothed leaves that have a fruity, aromatic taste. Mint traditionally complements lamb and poultry. It is widely used in Middle Eastern and Greek dishes, including salads, side dishes, and sauces. Fresh mint is a favorite for herbal tea.
- Pick mint regularly to encourage plant production. Pick leaves as needed once the plants are established. If harvesting the entire plant, wait until just before flowering. Mint’s flavor is best when fresh, but it can be stored dried.
- Country of origin: US
- Color: Green
- FLAVOR - Peppermint is packed with flavor. It's both sweet, cooling, and refreshing. They are used fresh or dried in tea and lemonade.
- INDOOR & OUTDOOR HERB GARDEN - Peppermint is a great herb to grow inside your kitchen and outdoors.
- USA - All of our seeds, including the pepper mint seeds, are heirloom, open-pollinated and non-GMO, grown in the USA. Don't buy inferior seeds from other countries. This should give you added reassurance that not only can you enjoy the seeds this season, but you can save the seeds each year, adding food security to your home.
- PACKETS - Each Peppermint seeds for planting plant seeds packet outdoors is printed on water-resistant paper, in full color with growing and harvesting directions included. Each peppermint packet contains at least 100 mg of seeds.
- GUARANTEE - We know you're absolutely going to love your peppermint seed, but if for any reason you don't, please contact us.
- QUALITY - All seeds packaged by Seed Needs are intended for the current and the following growing seasons. All seeds are stored in a temperature controlled facility that is free of significant amounts of moisture.
- QUANTITY - Seed packets by Seed Needs offer generous quantities. You can share with friends and family, or save your extra seeds until the next season, if properly stored.
- PACKETS - Each packet displays a beautiful illustration of the variety to be grown, as well as detailed seed sowing information on the reverse side as well. Measures 3.25” wide by 4.25” tall.
- PROMISE - Seed Needs will never knowingly supply GMO based seed products. The vast majority of our seeds are open pollinated & heirloom, with the exception of a few hybrids.
- GERMINATION - Seed Needs packets contain some of the freshest seed available. Direct from the growers. If sown correctly, you will begin seeing results in only a matter of days.
Last update on 2024-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
For optimal growth, the plant needs moist soil and exposure to full sun, which helps the oil production. The peppermint plant can grow in partial shade too, but if you want to enjoy its rich peppery flavour, you should plant it in full sun.
A good habit that helps the plant is to move it to a new location every three or four years, otherwise the Mentha × piperita tends to weaken if left in the same place for a long period of time.
Mentha x piperita is not sensitive to pests and diseases. The most common pests that can attack the plant, are aphids, thrips and spider mites which reside underside of leaves and often cause leaves spots, discolouration or defoliation. Peppermint also has some biological enemies such as powdery mildew, Verticillium wilt, Verticillium dahliae. To avoid diseases and infestations, avoid overcrowding the plants and avoid soggy soil.
As mentioned above, Mentha × piperita can easily be grown both outdoors and indoors, but there are higher chances that the plant grow and thrive in your outdoor garden than in a pot in your home. However, you can plant it and place it in a sunny spot, ideally near a south-facing window and you should have the best results. The key to growing peppermint is to assure it the right conditions with respect to sunlight, temperature, soil, watering, fertilizer and spacing.
Depending on the results you want to achieve from the peppermint plant, you will have to choose where you want to place it. If you want to achieve the biggest size of the plant, you should definitely plant it outside. But if you are not interested in how big the plant will grow, you can keep it in a pot and it will work really well too. One thing that can influence the size of your plant is the size of the pot used, if the pot is bigger, the plant will have more space to better develop.
If you want to plant it outdoors and want to prevent the plant to spread more than you would like, the specialists recommend planting your peppermint in a large pot or a bottomless bucket sunk into the soil. You can also use Mentha × piperita as ground cover.
In this case, you can plant them at half a metre distance from one another and once the plant is well-established will quickly cover a large area.
Regardless of the place you decide to plant the Mentha × piperita, the soil should have plenty of nutrients and be well-drained, you can mix the soil with some sand in order to improve the drainage. If the plant has too much water at its roots, it can rot and this can result in the death of the plant.
When it comes to watering, Mentha x piperita needs to be watered as often as required to keep the soil moist, but not too saturated. Typically you should water peppermint two times a week, but when the temperatures are higher in the summer you might have to water more often. One important fact that you should be aware of is that unlike watering other plants, peppermint does not appreciate dry soil so you should not allow it to dry between waterings.
The easiest way to determine how frequently to water your peppermint is according to soil type, sun conditions and temperature. When the soil seems to be died out that means that you will have to water the plant, but when the surface of the soil is still wet there is no need to add water. With the monitorization of the soil, you ensure the plant’s balance of moisture which will keep it healthy and prevent wilting and avoid root rot.
Planting and growing Mentha × piperita in your outdoor or indoor herb garden can be very satisfying as it is one of the plants that does not need any special attention. When it comes to propagation, there are two methods: the first one is also the fastest one and it consists of propagating peppermint from cuttings. The second type of propagation is from seeds and it consists of spreading the seeds in the area where you want to grow your peppermint.
Propagating Peppermint through Cuttings
When it comes to propagation from cuttings, there are a few steps that you should follow in order to have green, fresh new peppermint plants. The first step is to prepare your stem cutting – you will have to cut pieces of 12-15 cm from a healthy and well-established plant. Then, you will have to remove the leaves from the bottom of the piece and place your stems in a glass of water, ensuring that the stems have enough sun.
After a few days, the roots will appear and when they have approximately 5cm that means that the stems are ready to be planted. Delicately plant the cuttings in the moist soil and make sure you leave enough space between them, 25 cm is sufficient.
Propagating Peppermint through Seeds
Growing Mentha x piperita from seeds is not as fast as propagating it through cuttings, but it is quite effective. You can start the seeds indoors or you can simply sow them in the garden bed in spring, once the last frost has passed. Some gardeners recommend sowing the peppermint seeds in late fall.
As previously mentioned, peppermint loves the sun and the seeds will also require plenty of sunlight to germinate. Once you’ve selected a sunny location, amend the soil with compost and moisten it. Next, gently press the peppermint seeds on the surface of the soil. The germination process should take between 7 and 20 days. If you start your peppermint plants indoors, you can transplant the seedlings once they have two sets of true leaves. Make sure you space them approximately 70 cm (30 in) apart, to avoid overcrowding.
Growing Mentha × piperita plant can be a rewarding activity as you will have a new herb in your garden that doesn’t need very much attention and at the same time, you will get to enjoy the fresh mint leaves and use them to brew tea, as garnish, spice or just to appreciate them for their ornamental purposes.
The only thing you will have to take care of when it comes to peppermint is to be sure that it does not spread across your entire herb garden as it is considered an invasive grower and you may want to plant it in a pot or recipient that will not allow to spread more than wished. But the good news is that if you want to grow Mentha × piperita as a ground cover plant, you will only have to plant it and in time it will cover large areas of your garden.
If you love peppermint as much as we do, you might want to celebrate this plant properly and you can do so on December 3 on National Peppermint Latte Day, January 19 on National Chocolate Mint Day, and February 11 on National Peppermint Patty Day.
Are you growing Mentha x piperita in your garden? Share your experience in the comments!