Growing Mint Plants

APPLE MINT
Apple mint tea is an excellent choice when a headache strikes or when stomach discomfort begins to spoil your day. Mints of all types also address feverish conditions effectively. Researchers using essential oil of apple mint show promise for treating vaginal candidiasis. A skin toner can be made simply and easily using apple mint, apple cider vinegar and soft water. Gardeners interested in “companion planting” would do well to grow apple mint near peas, tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage, as it facilitates their growth while enhancing their flavors.
The mint family has held an elevated position in kitchens and medicine cabinets since ancient times. Easy to spot while walking through the field, apple mint produces a large, round-edged leaf (4 inches). Climbing up to 36 inches, the yardstick-long apple mint is also taller than most mint species. Its lovely mauve flowers burst forth during July and August.
Pour boiled water over a teaspoon of dried or fresh apple mint leaves and steep for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of cinnamon and a slice of lemon for a mentally calming beverage any time of the year. Since apple mint exudes a fruity scent that offers a hint of fresh apples, its leaves provide a natural garnish for your fruit salad.

CHOCOLATE MINT
Chocolate mint leaves have a delightful minty chocolate flavor, much like the classic Girl Scout cookie. Stems tend to run rampantly over and under soil. In small garden spaces, it’s best to tuck chocolate mint into a pot to curtail its wandering ways. Chocolate mint thrives alongside water gardens or in damp spots in the yard. Lushest growth occurs in moist soil in partial shade. Crush fresh leaves into water for a refreshing beverage, or add to tea or coffee. You can also dry leaves for flavoring desserts, like ice cream, meringues, quick breads, or cakes. Pick leaves frequently. Plants open lavender blooms in late summer. Tolerates light frost.
Chocolate mint plants are attractive, fragrant and easy to grow. As with most square-stemmed members of the mint family, growing chocolate mint can take over the area in which it is planted in the ground, readily and quickly.
When learning how to care for chocolate mint, know that it must be contained in some way to avoid the rapid spread of the chocolate herb plant. Horror stories of the escape of uncontained chocolate mint are shared by gardeners who planted it directly in the ground, only for it to take over the bed or spread to a neighbor’s property where it must then be removed.

SPEARMINT
Spearmint herb or garden mint or common mint has long been reputed for its characteristic aroma it imparts to the recipes it added to. The least pungent and subtle among the species of mint family, this unique herb is one of chef’s favorite culinary ingredients.
Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with abundant organic material.
Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow).
The leaves and oil are used to make medicine. Spearmint is used for digestive disorders including gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, upper gastrointestinal tract spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bile duct and gallbladder swelling (inflammation), and gallstones. It is also used for sore throat, colds, headaches, toothaches, cramps, cancer and inflammation of respiratory tract. Some people use it as a stimulant, germ-killer, local pain-killer, and anti-spasm medication. Spearmint is applied directly to the skin for swelling inside the mouth, arthritis, local muscle and nerve pain, and skin conditions including pruritus and urticaria. In foods and beverages, spearmint is used as a flavoring agent. In manufacturing, spearmint is used in health food products, cosmetics, and oral hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
Note: avoid mint teas during pregnancy.

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