Growing Spearmint Herb Plants in Northeast Florida Gardens
(Mentha spicata / Mentha x viridis)
Origins and Use of Spearmint (Mentha spicata / Mentha viridis) For Northeast Florida:
Spearmint is thought to be native to Europe and Southwest Asia. Some scholars think it an ancient strain of a cultivated plant selected from a Horsemint herb. Regardless of how it got here, it is by far my favorite of all of the mint herbs out there, spearmint has a fresh soft smell and a clean bright flavor that makes it universally appealing. In fact, it has been said that spearmint can be found growing out in the wild in almost every country humans have inhabited! Now that’s a plant that is well loved.
Spearmint adds its soft scent and flavor to Mint teas and mixed alcohol drinks, mint jellies, meat marinades, salads, perfect for mint sauce, chew the leaves for minty fresh breath, use them to make mint oil, herb vinegars or herb oils, or just throw crushed mint leaves into your hot bath for Mint aromatherapy to make a relaxing and rejuvenating bath water after a long day.
Growing Season for Northeast Florida Spearmint Plants
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. Spearmint grows quickly here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden.
Sun Exposure for Spearmint (Mentha spicata / Mentha viridis) in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscapes:
Plant Spearmint 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 Mojito mint herb plants during the heat of the summer. Filtered light under taller canopy trees will work nicely as well.
Spearmint makes an excellent indoor house plant in a nice window location. When planting Mojito mint 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 Spearmint Herb Plants in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida Area Gardens:
Moist, but well draining soils. Spearmint is not particular about the components of the soil that it is planted into, but tends to like the soil a bit on the wet side.
When planting Spearmint 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 Spearmint (Mentha spicata / Mentha viridis) Herb Plants:
Newly planted Spearmint, Mentha viridis, 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 its 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 Spearmint (Mentha spicata / Mentha viridis) Herb Plants When Mature:
The mature size on a Spearmint herb plants 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 Spearmint 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 Spearmint Herb foliage in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Spearmint 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 spearmint leaves are best when available, but 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 Spearmint Herbs / Mentha spicata for Northeast Florida, Jacksonville and St. Augustine area Landscape:
Spearmint’s blooms are a lavender to pinkish white color and are slender, tapering to a point at the top bloom instead of rounded. Blooms appear on the plant during summer.