Plants

Peppermint

Mentha x piperita

Antje Sommerkamp Antje SommerkampAlexander Buggisch Alexander Buggisch

Peppermint is a popular medicinal plant and herb which is extremely fast-growing and robust. We’ll tell you all about the plant, give you care tips, and reveal the best varieties.

Growth type
  • Perennial plant
Growth height (from)
from 30.00cm to 100.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • flat growing
  • foothills
Flower color
  • purple
  • pink
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • June to September
Flower shape
  • panicles
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • ovoid-lanceolate
  • sawn
  • oval
  • roundish
  • pointed
Sheet properties
  • edible
  • fragrant
Light
  • sunny
Soil type
  • sandy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moderately humid
ph value
  • weakly alkaline to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-loving
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Herb for cooking
  • medicinal plant
  • Nectar or pollen plant
Toxicity
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 5
areas of life
  • FR2
  • FR3
  • B2
Use
  • Planters
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • Pharmacy Garden
  • cottage garden
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Pot garden
Bee Friendly
bee friendly plant
Medicinal effect
Medicinal plant

Origin

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) belongs to the Mentha genus which consists of around 30 well-known species. The name peppermint is often used wrongly as a synonym for all varieties of mint. It belongs to the family Lamiaceae with the sub-family Nepetoideae, which also includes sage, rosemary, and basil. One can only guess about how and when peppermint made its way to Europe. It is generally accepted that the plant is native to Asia, where it probably originated naturally as a cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata).

Some botanical works suggest that the plant probably spread to Europe from England. It seems to be the place where it was first cultivated and sold. This is further supported by mint sauce being extremely popular in England. However, there is also a theory that the plant appeared in the wild in Greece a long time ago and spread throughout Europe from there.

Growth

Herbaceous and shallow rooted peppermint is hardy and very fast growing in ideal conditions. Depending on the variety, it reaches a height of up to three feet and spreads through runners. The lower part of the stems often lie on the ground and then continue to grow upright. They are slightly hairy in some varieties and are generally not very branched. The base grows slightly woody over time.

Leaves

The decussate leaves of peppermint vary from variety to variety. They have an intense light green, dark green, or reddish color, all varieties have toothed margins and distinct veins. The leaf shape varies from tapered leaves with a broad base to oval, almost rounded leaves. There are tiny oil glands on the underside of the leaves, containing fragrant essential oils that are released when touched.

Flowers

The highly colorful lipped flowers of peppermint form between June and September. They appear on the plant in pseudo-spikes and come in various shades of purple and pink, depending on the variety. There are also white-flowered varieties.

Mentha x piperita 'Black Peppermint'

A pleasant fragrance and decorative in the garden – peppermint flowers. Here is a Mentha x piperita 'Black Peppermint'

Location

Contrary to popular belief, mint does not enjoy full sunlight or dry locations, preferring fresh, slightly moist, and nutrient-rich soils. Most varieties of peppermint feel at home in partially shaded spots, and some in light shade.

Soil

Peppermint does well in regular garden soil. You can plant it in nutrient-rich, peat-free soil and put the pots in a semi-shaded area of the patio or balcony. For some varieties, it is a good idea to cover the soil with brushwood in winter, both in pots and in flower beds. As peppermint loves to spread and prefers moist soils, it is only somewhat suitable for herb spirals. If you allow for an area with moister soil at the bottom of the spiral, you can put it there.

Planting

When you plant peppermint in flower beds, it is highly recommended that you use a root barrier, otherwise it will spread uncontrollably. You should leave plenty of space to neighboring plants. Tip: Plant the perennial in the flower bed together with a 15 to 20 liter plastic pot or bucket, from which the soil has first been removed. The edge should be 0.79 inches above the soil. This will successfully prevent the runners from spreading uncontrollably and weaker neighbors from becoming overgrown.

Mentha x piperita

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) owes its typical aroma to the high menthol content. Its sterile flowers appear from July

Care

Peppermint is extremely low maintenance. You should give the plant plenty of water on hot summer days, and protect the soil from drying out by mulching with a layer of bark humus. Unlike most other kitchen herbs, peppermint enjoys being fed – it thoroughly appreciates a few handfuls of compost enriched with some horn shavings. You should rejuvenate the perennials by dividing them approximately every three to five years after flowering and also change location as they can leach the soil over time.

Harvest and Conservation

You can harvest mint leaves from spring. Their aroma is particularly intense in midsummer. If you need lots of leaves for drying, such as for peppermint tea in winter, you can cut the plant close to the ground in June. After cutting mint, it quickly sprouts again and can be harvested again from late summer until the first frosts. If you want fresh leaves for lemonade or a "Hugo", cut off fresh shoots throughout the entire season – ideally in the morning as soon as the dew has dried off, as this is when the essential oils content as at its highest. You can dry peppermint by hanging the bunches upside down in partial shade. Freezing mint is also a good way to preserve the kitchen herb. The mint season ends in fall when the stems can be cut back close to the ground.

Lemonade with mint

Mint is a must for refreshing drinks – whether it’s lemonade (photo) or the legendary ”Hugo“ (prosecco with elderberry syrup, lime juice, Moroccan mint, mineral water, ice cubes)

Healing Properties

True Peppermint has been an important medicinal plant for centuries due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic peppermint oil. As early as the Middle Ages, it was one of the most important cures for all possible illnesses – besides respiratory infections, it was used for all types of digestive problems. This may also be the origin of mint sauce - still popular in England today - which is often served with heavy meat dishes. In "Hortulus" from the 9th century, a horticultural reference book by the Benedictine monk and botanist Walahfrid Strabo, it says: "If anyone can name all the powers, species, and names of mint, they must also know how many fish are swimming in the Red Sea." And many of the current varieties of mint did not even exist back then.

Varieties

Due to its intense aroma, peppermint is often used to breed new hybrids and varieties of mint. There are now lemon mints (Mentha x piperita var. citrata ‘Lemon’), chocolate mints (Mentha x piperita var. piperita ‘Schoko’), and orange mints (Mentha x piperita var. citrata ‘Orange’). ‘Agnes’ (Mentha x piperita var. piperita) is a particularly “pepperminty” variety of True Peppermint.

Mentha x piperita var. piperita ‘Schoko’ (left), Mentha x piperita var. citrata ‘Granada’ (right)

Propagation

All varieties of peppermint are very easy to vegetatively propagate almost all year round, either by division after flowering or from cuttings. The cuttings also reliably form roots in a glass of water. However, propagating mint from seed is not recommended, as the seedlings vary greatly in terms of the intensity of their aroma.

Diseases and Pests

Peppermint is a very robust and resilient plant. Leaf beetles are one of the most common pests, their larvae can devour entire perennials. But it’s easy to deal with this by collecting the beetles. Aphids also occasionally appear on peppermint. You can get rid of them by simply cutting off the affected shoot tips. Small holes in the leaves indicate Psylliodes. You can get to grips with this by keeping the plant moist and loosening or mulching the soil more often. Mint rust is one of the most common fungal diseases. You should cut off infested parts of the plant and dispose of them in your household waste. Infections of can be prevented by spraying the plant with wettable sulfur.

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