mint

Q: Can I grow mint here? I see it in all the stores and I would love to have some for cooking.

A:  The mints are some of the most easy-to-grow perennial herbs for Florida gardens. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (M. piperita) are two of the more popular along with apple and orange mints. I have seen chocolate mint and several variegated forms – all beautiful plants.  The flowers of the mint family are small and are white, pink, blue, or violet. Mint should be started in moist soil, using surface or underground runners as sprigs for new plants. In Florida, many of the mints grow profusely in shade or full sun. The leaves and flowering tops are the useful parts, both fresh and dried.  We would suggest you consider planting the mint of your choice in containers. If you plant them in the soil, they have a tendency to become weedy and grow where you do know want them to grow. Do not be afraid to pinch off new leaves as these provide the best flavor.  Mint leaves can be cut up and placed in freezer bags then stored in the freezer so they are ready to use whenever you need them.  Mint plants are also great additions to classroom projects as they can be grown in a containers easily, they attract butterflies and provide sensory lessons – smell, taste and touch.