Mint - which one to choose and how to grow?
Mint, as a medicinal herb, was used as early as 1.5 thousand years BC. All the plants that we call mint belong to the family of the Yasnotkovy (Mast-flowered), but not all of them belong to the genus Mint. Almost all of them have a strong aroma due to the high content of various volatile essential oils. Today mint is used in medicine, soap making, perfumery, cosmetology, winemaking, cooking, in decorative gardening, in the confectionery industry. In this article we will consider the most interesting varieties of mint, and also talk about the features of growing this plant in open ground.
Biological features of mint
In vivo most common field mint (meadow). Its distribution range covers the temperate and warm regions of Russia and other countries. In the wild, mint prefers bright or slightly shaded moist places along the banks of rivers, various bodies of water, in moist meadows. Under optimal conditions, peppermint is characterized by the capture of free, slightly grassy areas, which is facilitated by creeping rhizome.
Even without knowing “in the face” this perennial plant, it can immediately be determined by the specific, pronounced smell of menthol. In the ground organs of field mint contains more than 2.5% of essential oils in leaves and up to 6% in inflorescences, including menthol and terpenes, as well as other useful substances: organic acids, carotene, flavonoids, vitamins, glycosides, phytosterols, etc.
Field mint is distinguished by a branched tetrahedral stem covered (not always) with short setae or softer hairs. Plant height from 10 to 100-130 cm. Leaves of medium size, opposite on short petioles. An ovate-shaped leaf blade with a pointed apex and serrated edges.
Pollinators are attracted by the pronounced smell of flowers. The flowers themselves are small, pinkish with a lilac hue, collected in a false whorl in the axils of opposite leaves. Flowering is long - from June to almost the end of September.
The smell of mint, regardless of species, drives mosquitoes away. It is enough to rub open places with leaves.
From wild mint, garden varieties, their varieties and hybrids were obtained by selection method.
Garden species and varieties of mint for growing
Among cultivated peppermint, the most famous peppermint (hybrid of mint water and ears). They called it peppery for its burning taste, causing a sensation of "burn" of the tongue when chewing a green leaf.
It has a pronounced menthol flavor. Attracts bees and bumblebees. It is a good honey plant. In appearance it resembles field mint, but more branched and tall.
At home, it is used in cooking for the preparation of confectionery, sauces, as a flavoring of fruit drinks, fruit drinks, other drinks and tinctures. It is widely used in folk medicine: a sedative for hypochondria and hysteria, for nervous and heart diseases, for rheumatism, as a mild choleretic, quenching toothache, etc.
Peppermint is used for the production of menthol and essential oils used in the medical, pharmaceutical, perfume and cosmetic industries.
However, peppermint has contraindications for use with low blood pressure and varicose veins.
It is a type of pepper. The main distinguishing feature is an even higher concentration of menthol than in peppermint, which gives the plants a sharp, persistent smell. Use the same as pepper.
Menthol mint is also more resistant to pests and diseases. It tolerates autumn and winter temperature extremes.
Menthol mint is grown commercially for use in cooking and cosmetology. It is this mint that is usually used to make mojito. In medicine, it is in demand as a choleretic, anti-inflammatory, for the treatment of bronchitis.
Melissa is often called lemon, honey mint or honey. But mint and lemon balm are plants of different genera, albeit of the same family. True, these plants, indeed, are very similar, so we could not help but include melissa in the list of mint, which we recommend growing in the country.
Melissa has a pronounced lemon aroma with a pleasant refreshing aftertaste. Like peppermint, lemon balm is cultivated as a good honey plant. This is a favorite plant of bees, for which the name has taken root among the people. warrior or apiary.
For their high taste, aromatic and medicinal properties, lemon mint is considered one of the most valuable species of the family. At home, lemon mint is used for atony of the stomach, as a sedative. Decoctions are used for dizziness, nervous breakdowns, rheumatic attacks, as a mild choleretic.
The substances contained in the leaves and inflorescences of lemon balm, provide antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory activity, have an antipyretic effect, normalize and support the normal function of the male sex glands (a kind of aphrodisiac).
In the household, in addition to medical and wellness methods, it is used in seasonings, salads, soups. It is part of homemade liquors and is especially often used as a spice supplement for tea leaves.
Unlike plants of the genus Mint, the leaves of lemon balm, which belongs to the genus Melissa, are round-ovate, with marginal denticles, long-arched, bright green. Often grow rounded perennial bushes. Melissa blooms in the summertime (June-July).
Curly mint among the people has several names - curly, spiky, spring, garden. It differs from other species by an unusually strong smell, but without a cooling menthol flavor.
Curly mint practically does not contain menthol. It is rich in other essential oils (linalool, carvone), which in some industries are valued higher than menthol.
Curly mint is widely used in soap making, in the tobacco and confectionery industries. It finds its application in medicine and cooking.
Mint homemade, or Plectrantus
Another plant that belongs to a completely different genus is the Shporotvetnik, but to the same family, Iasnatkovye. It has a lot in common with mint, so the people most often call mint indoor or home.
Under natural conditions, the distribution range is limited to the tropics and subtropics. In regions with a temperate climate can only be grown as a houseplant. We included homemade mint on our list, because it is really worth growing, although not in the garden, but at home.
Plectranthus is also called the molar tree. This plant does not like moths and mosquitoes. Mint contains essential oils of complex composition, which gives them a pleasant mint aroma. The room does not require a special wet microclimate. With proper care, it will decorate your kitchen window and dishes for at least 5 years.
For details on the cultivation of plectrantus, see the article Plectrantus, or Mint - home care.
Other mint varieties
In addition to the above, in natural conditions and gardens of Russia and neighboring countries grow cat, Korean, dog, swamp, chocolate, ginger and other plants of the vast family Yasnotkovye.
Peppermint may not have a pronounced mint smell, but it has a number of other valuable qualities and is used in a decorative landscape (shrubby forms) for landscaping flower beds.
Korean mint used in North Asia as a medicinal plant with anti-aging properties, it positively affects the healing of the liver, the restoration of the immune system.
Dog Mint, or Budra ivy distributed in Eurasia. It is a good honey plant, providing bees and bumblebees with aromatic nectar in the first half of summer. Widely used as a medicinal plant.
Catnip, or Catnip cat It is distinguished by a peculiar aroma that attracts the cat family. It grows everywhere as a weed, but is used in perfumery, medicine, soap making, and in confectionery production. In folk medicine, catnip has been used for headaches, for cleansing the skin for skin diseases, for nervous exhaustion, and gastrointestinal diseases.
In general, no matter what mint you choose, it is always useful, fragrant and beautiful. Next, we consider the features of growing mint in the open ground.
Growing mint in a summer cottage
Mint is a very aggressive plant. Its root system is able to fill the garden in a short time. Having decided to grow mint in your garden, you need to take some measures to limit its distribution.
It is better to enclose the space reserved for mint with slate or other materials at a depth of at least 30-40 cm. Some gardeners advise to grow mint in old boil-outs, buckets, pots, basins.
Choose a better sunny place. This contributes to the formation of more essential oils. Mint does not tolerate flooding, it develops well on neutral soil (acidity of 6-7 units).
The prepared site is dug up in the fall (it is possible in the early spring), they are well leveled. If necessary, make nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizers (any that are on the farm) at the rate of 1-2 tablespoons without top per square meter. m square. If the plot is fertile, fertilizers do not need to be applied.
Mint propagation methods
Mint can be propagated in various ways, of which the following are most common:
- by seeds;
- rhizome division;
Experienced gardeners also use rooting of leaves or petioles. The last two methods for beginners cause certain difficulties, so we will focus on the first three methods.
At seed propagation, you need to consider that the mint seeds are very small. Sow seeds in the upper 1 cm layer of prepared moist soil in the second half of April. Sown in summer and autumn, seedlings take root worse.
It is more practical to sow seeds on seedlings and then to plant seedlings in open ground. High-quality seedlings before planting should have a developed root system, 2-3 pairs of leaflets and a plant height of at least 5 cm. Planting is carried out in an ordinary way, leaving 15-20 cm in a row between young seedlings and up to 30-35 cm between rows.
Breeding rhizome division most acceptable. It does not require special skills and time. In May, a rhizome with aerial mass is carefully excavated. The rhizome is divided, depending on the size, into several parts so that each has at least 5-10 growth buds.
The prepared material is planted to a depth of 8-12 cm in an ordinary way. A distance of up to 15-20 cm is left in the row, and 30-35 cm in the aisles. Previously, humus or wood ash is introduced into each planting hole, which is immediately mixed with the soil. After planting, carefully pour over warm water and mulch.
Propagation by cuttings more often used for indoor cultivation of mint and in the warm southern regions. In the northern regions, especially during late planting, cuttings do not have time to take root and may die with the onset of early cold weather.
Cuttings are cut from the top of adult plants 8-12 cm long. The cuttings are dipped 1/3 into the water and wait for the roots to appear. To make the roots appear faster, add “Kornevin” or “Heteroauxin” to the water.
Rooted plants are planted in flower pots of 3-5 pieces and exposed to diffused light (the windows of the sunny side are covered with paper). The soil in the pot is kept moist (not wet). Mint does not need additional fertilizing if the soil for planting was well seasoned with fertilizers or if planting was carried out in specially prepared soil (you can buy it in a store).
Features of mint planting care
Peppermint does not need special care. In open ground, the mint bed must be kept moist by watering through a fine sieve or spray gun, especially while the plants are young with immature stems.
Since watering is carried out at a small norm, it is imperative that the soil is mulched with fine mulch (you can use sand, ash, mature compost or humus mixed with soil). With high humidity, mostly in shaded places, mint is often affected by fungal diseases, has a less pronounced aroma.
It is enough to fertilize mint once a year, preferably in autumn, with minimal doses (per 1 sq. M 1-2 tablespoons of nitroammophos or other complete fertilizer).
Planting peppermint must constantly weed away from weeds. To make the bushes compact and more leafy, the tops of young plants are pinched. This technique stops the growth of mint in height and helps to increase the bushiness of plants.
So that the mint does not grow, you need to thin out the beds in the fall, making room for young sprouts and after 3-4-5 years transplant to a new place.
In spring, mint bushes are pruned to the root (before the leaves open). After pruning, the bush rejuvenates, becomes more magnificent, more young leafy shoots appear.
Pest and Disease Control
On mint plantings, the use of pesticides to protect against diseases and pests is strictly prohibited. Therefore, when growing peppermint, you need to follow all the requirements of agricultural technology, carefully monitor the condition of the bushes during the growing season and conduct timely preventive measures.
Peppermint is susceptible to fungal diseases (powdery mildew, rust, etc.). To exclude the possibility of disease damage it is necessary:
- observe a sparse landing mode;
- conduct annual thinning of bushes;
- planting in a timely manner to loosen and keep clean from weeds;
- do not fill the bushes during irrigation, keep the soil moist (do not allow stagnation of water).
If during the inspection of the bushes, sick people are identified, they are immediately removed and burned.
Of the pests, mint is often attacked by aphids, spider mites, mint fleas, leafworms, and others. The main measures are to systematically inspect the bushes and remove their damaged parts. If the entire bush is affected, the latter is removed and burned.
From preventive measures, you can sprinkle mint:
- soap solution;
- ash extract solution;
- aphid does not tolerate apple cider vinegar (a solution of 1 tbsp.spoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 liter of water, mix and sprinkle plants in cloudy weather);
- water infusion of horse sorrel roots or dandelion leaves (300-400 g of plant material per 10 l of water, leave for 3 hours, strain).
The main condition when processing peppermint: the solution should be harmless to humans and pets.
Peppermint Harvesting and Storage
Cutting young stems with leaves can be done when the plants reach a height of 10-12 cm. On adult plants, foliage is harvested before flowering. During this period, the leaves contain the highest content of essential oils and other beneficial substances.
The cut is washed under running water, laid out in a thin layer on a natural burlap or other moisture-absorbing material, loose paper can be used.
In order for the plants to maintain their color, they are dried in a dark, well-ventilated room. The material is constantly tedged and turned over so that it does not mold.
When the leaves dry well, the dried mint is stored in a glass container with a ground stopper or in bags made of natural fabric. Store in a dark, dry place.
In plastic bags, mint is damp and moldy.
Properly dried mint can be stored for 1-2 years and used as necessary for the preparation of teas, drinks, as part of medicinal preparations or as seasonings for first and second courses. To extend the use of fresh leaves, they are frozen, stored for some time in the refrigerator and used if necessary.
Dear readers! Mint is very easy to grow. She does not need complex agricultural technology. Having settled peppermint in your garden, you will always have aromatic spice and medicinal material for the prevention and treatment of many diseases.