You see everyone putting it on their meals, seasoning their desserts and beverages, but you rarely know what it truly is. Here, we want to change that by showing you all about mint plants and their varieties.
The Lamiaceae family contains about 7,200 species. Among them you can find thyme, oregano, catnip, sage, basil, and many others. But the most popular of this family is the mint. Thus, it’s also called the mint family.
But among the mint species, you can also find 24 mint varieties and 16 hybrids. Some of these are incredibly rare, while others are incredibly popular. We want to focus on the types of mint plant that are easy to find, grow, and use.
Below, we’ll go over everything these mint plants offer, going from their growth needs to their looks and uses. Care to learn more about them? Then keep reading!
16 Types of Mint Plant You Should Know About
Because some of these varieties have sub-varieties to consider, we decided to bring the ones that are easy to tell apart from others. Each of the mints below is different from the rest in one way or another. Want to know how? Check them out:
1. Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)
You can also find it as the Wooly Mint due to the thick and “hairy” leaves it has. The plant can grow to 2 feet tall and spread rapidly across gardens. For that reason, it is typically planted on containers. Yet, it also works as an edging plant. When the conditions are ideal, it produces white-to-pink flowers.
As for its growth needs, you’ll find that it thrives on partial sunlight, relatively warm environments of no less than 30-degrees Fahrenheit, and nutritious soils. However, it is still easy to grow and survive in almost any environment (except freezing or extra-dry areas).
Apart from that, this mint is one of the sweetest in taste, making it an ideal choice for desserts like smoothies, jams, and more. It is also worth using in meals as a garnish or in beverages for its sweetness.
2. Buddleia Mint (Mentha longifolia)
Also known as the Rossminze, the Buddleia mint is one of the tallest varieties, growing to 3 feet and more, given the conditions. The leaves are mild silver-green, and when the summer arrives, it produces pink-to-purple flowers.
This mint requires moist soil, in contrast with other species. However, it still thrives in full-sun and demands highly nutritious soils.
It is not often used as a culinary herb, either on meals or beverages. For that reason, it is considered an ornamental variety.
3. Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
While not precisely from the mint subspecies, it’s still considered one. The plant can grow to about 2-3 feet tall and produces many individual stems from the root. They have a grass-like appearance.
The leaves are often small and veiny, while the stalks are thick. It boasts a bright green color and produces white-to-pink flowers.
This one is not typically used in meals but more in the medicinal space. Because it contains menthol, the plant works as a skin and muscle-relieving ingredient. It’s also a tea mint, making for very relaxing mixes.
4. Catmint (Nepeta mussinii)
Often confused with the famous Catnip, catmint is more of a mint than a feline stimulant. Like most mints, it boasts intense green leaves in single-growing stems. These stems can grow to 3 feet each and cover wide spaces in a few months – creating bush-like looks.
One exciting part of the catmint is the ability to repel insects. Similarly, it resists drought, appreciates sandy soil, and can grow pretty much in any climate (as long as it isn’t too dry or too cold).
While not a stimulant like catnip, it is used in teas and other calming beverages. It’s the main ingredient of many anti-coughing and congestion-relieving medicaments.
5. Chocolate Mint (Mentha x piperita citrata ‘Chocolate’)
Part of the Peppermint (we’ll go over it later) species, the Chocolate Mint is another unique variety. What sets it apart is the intense aroma that resembles chocolate, making it a highly sought-after variety.
The stems are often thick with a brown tone, while the leaves are usually light green to yellow, veiny, and relatively small. The plant grows to about 2 feet tall and produce shrubs when fully mature. This variety also spreads fast, so it is always worth planting in containers.
Because it has a unique chocolatey smell and taste, it makes for an excellent addition to desserts. More commonly, however, people use it for teas and sweet beverages.
6. Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis)
Also known as the Field Mint, it is one of the few varieties native to North America. It stands out for the bright light-green leaves and ability to grow no more than 1.5 inches in height.
This variety is one of the trickiest to plant, as it requires full sun and thrives in partial shade. The soil needs to be sandy and requires high-nutrient availability, often from compost or fertilizers. Luckily, it grows pretty much in any environment.
Having said that, it is worth planting because it has a lot of menthol content. This makes up for highly effective congestion and coughing medicament. When used in oils and teas, it works as a relaxing agent.
7. Curly Mint (Mentha spicata crispa)
As a Spearmint subvariety, the curly mint makes for an excellent ornamental addition to any garden. The plant typically grows to less than 3 feet and produces some of the rarest leaves in the mint family, boasting a swirled-up appearance.
This species typically requires humid environments, but it can also grow in relatively dry areas. As long as it receives proper moisture and nutritious soil, it should thrive.
As for its culinary uses, you will mostly find the same peppermint uses: seasoning for beverages and garnishing sweet dishes and desserts.
8. Grapefruit Mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Grapefruit’)
Another subvariety in the list, this one belongs to the peppermint species. The thing that makes it worth talking about is the strong smell it has, resembling grapefruit for a fruity and sometimes citric touch.
The plant often grows to about 2 feet and spreads quickly, making for an excellent pot plant. Similarly, it thrives in partial sun and nutritious soils. This one, however, can grow in cold environments as low as 25-degrees Fahrenheit.
Its citrus scent and relatively large leaves are often used in fruit desserts and dishes containing chicken, fish, and lamb.
9. Hart’s Pennyroyal (Mentha cervina)
One of the strangest types of mint but still very popular. The Hart’s Pennyroyal grows to about 1 foot and achieves a unique green color on the leaves. This intense dark green matches the distinctive leaf shape, curled and thin, making it uniquely attractive.
The plant prefers dry and warm environments. But it still needs highly nutritious soil and proper humidity to thrive.
Because the leaves are thinner but fleshy, it is not used in foods. But the leaves still have a lot of fragrance, which makes them ideal for perfumes and oils.
10. Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)
Probably the most ornamental type, the Horsemint (also known as Lemon Beebalm) grows large, to about 4 feet when fully mature. But this height comes mainly from the tall flower stalks, which takes it apart from other mints.
These flower heads can be pink, purple, or red that boasts a gorgeous brightness and a smelly lavender touch. The leaves are also unique, growing a bit larger than other mints.
Despite its intense scent, the Horsemint still works as an addition to food: it works on desserts, chicken, fish, and alcoholic beverages. Its taste is more lemony than minty.
11. Lavender Mint (Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’)
As the name says, it is a mint plant with the appearance of mint. This mostly comes from the large stalks where the flowers grow. These flowers achieve an intense purple color like lavender flowers. But even then, they aren’t as long or as thick.
Lavender mint grows to about 2 feet and has some of the largest leaves. As a mint, it is also worth planting in containers. Apart from that, they require well-draining soil, warm environments, and relatively humid areas.
As for its uses, you can find lavender mind as a medicinal ingredient. It also works as tea and makes for an excellent addition to cleaning products due to its aromatherapy properties. Even then, people also use it on dishes with fruits, carbs, or even meats.
12. Licorice Mint (Agastache rupestris)
Probably the less popular species in the list: Licorice Mint is a type of hyssop plant. However, it is often passed as mint due to its citric fragrance and mint-like taste (mildly sweet). Because of that, it is not considered licorice, despite its name.
One exciting part of the plant is the purple-to-white flowers it produces, resembling lavender. You can guess it doesn’t take much effort to grow, as long as it is planted in rich soil and receives over 6 hours of sunlight daily.
It is often used in desserts, drinks, and as a garnish for meats. The most popular use of this plant is ice cream alongside fruits.
13. Pennyroyal Mint (Mentha pulegium)
The popular Pennyroyal is a mint plant you can’t miss. It grows a little differently from other varieties, with stalks that grow directly from the root upwards but never making shrubs like other varieties. You can find it up to 2 feet in height and purple flowers growing across the stalks.
This mint loves full sun and warm environments of no less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It spreads super-quick, so it works wonders as a container plant.
One thing that sets it apart is the intensity of its oils. Its properties make it an exceptional topical ingredient, relieving pains while still working as a gastrointestinal soothing agent when used in teas. It is not typically used in foods.
14. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Standing among the most popular mint types, the Peppermint boasts large leaves and grows up to 3 feet. When fully matured, it may produce white-to-purple flowers. Among peppermint, you can find several subvarieties as well.
What distinguishes peppermint is the ability to grow anywhere: from dry to humid areas, under partial shade or full sun, and rich or wet soils.
This mint is also intense, boasting relieving properties, mostly when used as a tea. But it’s still a common ingredient in alcoholic beverages and desserts due to its mild but sweet citric taste.
15. Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
When it comes to popular mints, Spearmint is easily in the top three. It is super-easy to distinguish, as it grows in a vine-like form while producing large purple-to-pink spear flowers (where it gets the name from).
This one can grow to 2 feet, requires nutritious soil, but can handle high temperatures of over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can plant it in humid and cold areas as long as the soil is well-draining and slightly acidic.
One exciting part of this plant is the pungent smell, making it a go-to ingredient in the cosmetic industry and medicine industries. It’s still heavily used in meals, beverages, and desserts.
16. Watermint (Mentha aquatica)
As you may guess, the name comes from the species’ preference to grow in highly humid environments. It is often found close to rivers and lakes. You can grow it pretty much anywhere as long as temperatures don’t go below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
This variety can grow to over 3 feet and produces pink flowers that are gorgeous to see. It attracts a lot of insects, especially butterflies.
More importantly, it is an excellent ingredient for aromatherapy products and a relaxing topical for muscles and skin. In contrast with other mints, this one is not recommended as a culinary herb apart from tea-making.
Mint will grow anywhere at any time, produce gorgeous flowers, and still stay low enough to never become a nuisance. Because of that, it’s a plant you don’t want to dismiss when growing a new garden.
With the different types of mint plant above, you’ll have the chance to pick precisely the variety you prefer and need (in terms of looks but also growing requirements). Once you do that, you’ll have no trouble growing mint at home.
Regardless of what you’re looking for to get with mint, make sure you choose the right variety first. Once you do that, growing it will be a piece of cake. Start now, and you won’t regret it!