Growing Peppermint Herb Plants in Northeast Florida Herb Gardens
Peppermint Herb / Mentha piperita For Northeast Florida Uses and Origins:
Peppermint oil is a highly cultivated and sought after commodity on a global scale. It is grown on a very large scale for its oils in England, America, France and Japan.
Peppermint oil has been used medicinally for numerous health concerns. Relief from peppermint oil is attributed to ailments such as the common cold, stomach aches, cramps, headache, joint pain, indigestion and even nausea.
Peppermint herb plants have a distinctly strong and spicy odor and flavor. The cooling effect of peppermint leaves after use in the mouth make it well loved for liquors and mint teas as well as herbal vinegar and oil preparations. Use as a marinade for meats, chop and add to salads and vegetable dishes, or use for mint sauce, jams or jellies, and last but not least peppermint candies and confections!
As much as we love to eat peppermint leaves, perhaps the most common use of the peppermint herb plant and its wonderful oils is in beauty preparations. Hair care, tooth paste, mouth wash, body wash, soaps, perfumes, lotions, lipstick, shaving cream, and many more. You can’t hardly pick an item you may need without having the choice of a peppermint version to pick from on the shelf.
Try growing your own and harvesting peppermint fresh from your garden. You will love it!
Growing Season for Northeast Florida Peppermint / Mentha piperita:
Almost all types of mint herb plants are hardy perennial plant selections for Florida gardeners. Grow them year round. Plant from S & J Nursery containers or bury a stem or root division from a friend. Mint grows quickly here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden.
Sun Exposure for Peppermint / Mentha piperita in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscapes:
Plant Peppermint plants in areas where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade for best results in Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens. Partial shade is preferred to full sun locations that can be a bit overpowering on Peppermint herb plants during the heat of Florida’s summer. Filtered light under taller canopy trees will work nicely as well.
Peppermint makes an excellent indoor house plant in a nice kitchen window location. It is known to deter critters including ants, roaches and mice!
When planting peppermint herb plants on a porch, patio, or as an indoor house plant, place them in a location to receive at least 4 hours of light each day.
Soil Preference for Peppermint Herb Plants in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida Area Gardens:
Moist, but well draining soils. Peppermint is not particular about the components of the soil that it is planted into, but tends to like the soil a bit drier than most mint herb plants you may be familiar with.
When planting Peppermint into the ground, amend the soil generously with compost. It acts as a sponge and helps to keep the soil moist and well drained.
Mint herb plants make a great container plant as well, as the plant and root system take up very little room. Mint roots are very shallow in the soil, almost right at the surface, so there is no need for a deep pot. You may want to consider adding a soil moisture retention granule like soil moist to your potting soil mix to help conserve water, the smaller the container that your mint plant is potted into, the quicker the soil will dry out.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Peppermint Herb Plants:
Newly planted Peppermint herb plants will require watering every day for the first few days, then taper back watering to three times a week, then twice a week for in-ground plants and three to four times a week for potted containers.
In general herbs require little in the way of fertilizer. To much fertilizer with herbs can be worse than not enough. Over fertilization can lead to lush green growth with a reduced quantity of volatile oils in the leaves. Reduced oils, means reduced flavor and aroma in your herbs.
However, in Florida’s sandy soils you may find your plants in some need of some help, particularly if compost wasn’t added to the soil when planting.
Granular Fertilizer for Herb Plants:
On water loving herbs like Celery or Mint, I like to add granular Milorganite fertilizer to the compost when potting or planting my herbs. Milorganite helps the soil retain moisture and fertilizes your plant with a great quality organic that will not burn the new fiber hair roots that your herb plant will start putting out into the surrounding soil once planted from it’s S & J Nursery container.
Foliar spray Fertilizer for Herb Plants:
Fertilize with a mixture of liquid fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution.
If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.
Size of Peppermint / Mentha piperita Herb Plants When Mature:
The mature size on a Peppermint plant will be between 18 and 24 inches high. Mint will root into the surrounding soil anywhere the foliage has contact and continue growing and spreading if left unchecked. Many gardeners confine mint by planting into raised beds or potted containers.
Sowing Peppermint Herb Plant Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:
Mint seeds are often sterile and mint seeds that are not sterile have a high level of variability to the seedlings they will produce, they do not ‘come true’ from seed. So you often don’t get a mint plant similar to the one you were hoping for when you plant mint seeds. For that reason, mint is propagated by divisions of existing clumps or by sticking cuttings into moist soil for them to root and grow.
Harvesting Peppermint Herb foliage in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Mint herb plants can be harvested year round, although the leaves should be at their best in spring and again in fall in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscape.
Fresh mint leaves are best when available, but they still retain good flavor and color when stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for a few days.
If you have harvested more than you need to use, throw them into the blender with a little bit of water and pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Add to your tea for a refreshing burst of flavor.
Dried Mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark area.
Blooms of Peppermint / Mentha piperita Herbs for Northeast Florida Landscape:
Peppermint flowers are a lovely lavender pinkish color and bloom on the plants during the summer.