By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
You may know ginger mint plants (Mentha x gracilis) by one of their many alternate names: redmint, Scotch spearmint, or golden apple mint. Whatever you choose to call them, ginger mint is handy to have around, and the uses for ginger mint are many. Read on to learn about growing ginger mint in your own garden.
Growing Ginger Mint
Ginger mint plants are usually sterile and don’t set seeds, but you can propagate the plant by taking softwood cuttings or rhizomes from an existing plant. You can also purchase a starter plant at a greenhouse or nursery specializing in herbs.
These plants prefer moist, rich soil and full sun or partial shade. Ginger mint is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9.
Once established, ginger mint spreads by runners, and like most types of mint, may become aggressive. If this is a concern, plant ginger mint herbs in pots to reign in rampant growth. You can also grow ginger mint indoors.
Work 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm.) of compost or manure into the soil at planting time. The plants also benefit from an application of compost or manure, along with a small amount of balanced garden fertilizer. Allow 24 inches (61 cm.) between plants to allow for growth.
Ginger Mint Plant Care
Water ginger mint regularly during the growing season, but don’t overwater, as mint is susceptible to disease in wet conditions. Generally, 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) of water per week is ample, depending on soil type and weather conditions.
Fertilize once in early spring using a balanced fertilizer with a ratio such as 16-16-16. Limit feeding to about 1 teaspoon (5 mL.) of fertilizer per plant, as too much fertilizer reduces the oils in the plant, thus negatively affecting the flavor and overall quality.
Divide ginger mint herbs as necessary to prevent overcrowding.
Spray the plant with insecticidal soap spray if aphids become a problem.
Harvest ginger mint throughout the growing season, beginning when plants are 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) tall.
Uses for Ginger Mint
In the landscape, ginger mint is highly attractive to birds, butterflies, and bees.
Like all types of mint, ginger mint herbs are high in fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Dried mint is higher in nutrition than fresh mint, but both are delicious in teas and for flavoring a variety of dishes. Fresh ginger mint herbs make delicious jams, jellies, and sauces.
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Galangal Plant Care: Growing Ginger’s Cousin
During the Middle Ages, the spicy and pungent root known as galangal was a hot commodity, It was widely traded from its native Indonesia and China throughout Europe. Its popularity in the Western world diminished and until recently you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who would even know what the galangal plant was. Awareness of galangal is increasing thanks to its popularity in a diversity of Asian cuisines, particularly Thai food.
While popularity has increased, sourcing fresh galangal roots can be a challenge. Why not grow your own? Galangal is in the ginger family and grown from the root or rhizomes. Growing galangal is easy. It is a relatively low maintenance plant. Originally from Indonesia and Southwest China, it is an attractive plant with a tropical look for your garden.
Galangal has two forms: greater (Alpinia galanga) and lesser (A. officinarum). The first is larger, as it can grow up to 6 feet in height, and is the more common culinary root. The lesser version has a stronger taste and is most commonly used for medicinal purposes. It has a smaller stature, reaching around 3 feet in height.
Good Products For Growing Galangal Plant:
There are lots of great reasons to grow mint in containers. First, you can keep a pot of mint right next to your kitchen door, so it's always available. Also, mint spreads quickly and like crazy, so it's also a way of keeping your gardens and lawn from being overrun by ambitious mint plants. They can really be thugs, so be careful the mint even in your pot doesn't drape on the ground, form roots and spread.
You can grow an entire pot full of different varieties of mint. Strawberry pots can be great for this, in which you can plant a different mint in each pocket.
Some of my favorites to grow in containers are, ginger mint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint, orange mint, and apple mint because they are all low growing plants.
Mentha x piperita (Peppermint)
The most common variety of mint in home gardens, peppermint is the type of mint that is used most often as a culinary herb, especially to flavor sweet treats like mint candies. Peppermint is the best mint to brew a mug of comforting tea that works to soothe a sore throat, help stomach aches, and promote more restful sleep if imbibed just before bed time.
Mint Plant - Ginger Mint
Mentha x gracilis
- Tiger striped leaf.
- Amazing little lilac flowers.
- Ginger scented.
- Cross between Spearmint and Corn mint.
Supplied as a pot grown plant grown in a 7cm pot.
Also known as Slender, Scotch, Red, Austrian, Red stemmed, Golden apple, Little-leaved or Vietnamese Mint.
Almost tiger striped leaf, with the orange stripes running down the green leaves with a apple/ginger fragrance.
This is a hybrid mint from Metha arvensis (Field or Corn Mint)and Mentha spicata (Spearmint).
In the 14th century mint was used for teeth whitening!
Recognised to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects.
- Reaches 12 - 24" (30 - 60 cm) tall.
- Small lilac flowers which appear along the red stems.
- Prefer a full sun position but will take partial shade.
- Likes a well drained soil, particularly during Winter.
- Recommended for pot growing as is invasive.
- Culinary Uses
- Excellent variety for making tea.
- Flowers are edible.
- Great addition to salad.
- Particularly good accompaniment to melon and tomatoes!
- A nice addition to homemade lemonade.
- Sometimes used to flavour chewing gum.
- Good for mint sauce.
- Medical Uses
- Has antiseptic properties.
- Can be good for digestion disorders.
- Can be used to ease headaches and fevers.
- Other Uses
- Pot pourri.
- Can be used to deter mice, rats and deer.
As with all alternative medicines and plants with purported medicinal benefits it is important to inform your health care providers that you are using them this helps to ensure safe and coordinated care. We can accept no liability for any side effect or contingency from any allergy or any other cause or harm that may arise. If in doubt please do consult a medical practitioner before using. Not recommended whilst pregnant. Can be toxic if used in high doses.
What is the large tall plant just to the left of the large Red pot in the first picture? It is quite tropical looking and has large oval leaves. For that matter, any guesses what the plant is that is just next to the red pot, it grows from large white bulbs, and it is not an Iris or a lily of the Nile. I wonder what is it, or what is the one in the red pot? Second Pic, what is the large plant with cruciform leaves in the center? Any help much appreciated. We just bought the house and we do not know what these plants are or how to care for them. Peter
It can be difficult to make plant id's without growing zones and more details.
The plants to the left of the pot, may be Torch Ginger.
In the 2nd image you have a Split Leaf Philodendron.
Often times neighbors may have similar plantings and can offer some help.
I would also suggest you visit local garden centers and you can often find matches to your own landscape plants. Snip a leaf or two to take with you.
The smallest mint foliage, Corsican mint leaves grow about a 1/4 inch in length and appear in great profusion over the inch-high plant. The leaves are bright green and inedible. Corsican mint is often reserved for ground covers and herbal lawns, says University of Oregon Extension. When walked on, the plants release a creme de menthe scent
- Mint foliage, although growing on related plants, varies from tiny, to broad, to red-tinged, with a range of scents and flavors.
How do you use extra mint leaves? Here are 12 marvelous uses for mint around the home and garden—from culinary to medicinal to mouthwash to bug repellent!
Meet the Mints
What do you know about the mint family, Lamiaceae, the sixth- or seventh-largest of the flowering plant families?
- The most common and popular mints for growing are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), native spearmint (Mentha spicata), Scotch spearmint (Mentha x gracilis), and cornmint (Mentha arvensis) also (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).
- Mint provides most of our common culinary herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, summer and winter savories).
- Plus, there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of traditional medicinal herbs, not to mention many aromatics for use in flavorings, perfumes, and cosmetics.
- You’ll also find mints among our favorite landscaping plants. Think salvias, agastaches, and lavenders, bee-balms, hyssop, and Russian sage. All summer, they produce nectar-rich blossoms, which attract bees and beneficial pollinators along with an occasional hummingbird.
A favorite in my summer herb garden is the bright red bee-balm which seeds itself all over the place, makes a great cut flower, and serves as a tasty tea to boot.
Many, if not most mint-family members, contain strongly aromatic oils (think lavender, rosemary, basil, thyme, and sage), which account for their many uses as seasoning, flavoring, and perfuming agents.
12 Uses for Mint Leaves
There are many safe uses for mint-family herbs besides beautifying your gardens. Here is just a sampling:
- Food: The peppermints are especially good culinary mints, ideal for chopping into salads, sprinkling over fruits or combining with basil or cilantro to make mint pesto. We like to add a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped mint to peas, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, or zucchini to create a minted vegetables!
- Drinks: Freeze a few trays of strong mint tea, then use the ice cubes for cooling summer drinks! Add mint leaves or cubes to mojitos, iced tea, or fresh lemonade.
- Tea: Why buy mint tea when it’s so easy to make? What we usually call the “mints” (peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, etc.) are traditional tea herbs. Just steep your fresh mint leaves in boiling water for about five minutes and serve. It’s a great digestive aid after dinner. Apple mint is one of my favorites with more mint flavor and less aftertaste.
- Hair rinse: Add one part strong mint (especially rosemary) tea to one part cider vinegar for a conditioning rinse you can either leave in or rinse out. The vinegary smell dissipates after drying.
- Facial astringent: Add a few finely minced leaves of fresh peppermint or other mint to a cup of witch hazel. Store in a glass jar for a week or more, shaking occasionally. Strain the herbs from the mixture after a week.
- Mouthwash: Chop a quarter cup of fresh mint, bee-balm, lemon balm, basil, thyme, or oregano leaves and infuse in a quart of boiling water. When cool, strain the herbs and store in the refrigerator.
- Mint bath. Steep a handful of mint leaves in a pint of hot water for about ten minutes, the strain. Add to bath water for an invigorating, stress-free soak.
- Ease sunburn pain: Make a strong peppermint tea and refrigerating the mixture for several hours. To use, gently apply to the burned area with cotton pads.
- Breath freshener: Just chew on a few mint leaves! Sage teas and extracts have been used for centuries as a mouthwash for oral infections. Don’t use chew mint-family herbs if you’re breastfeeding, as even small amounts or sage and peppermint may reduce milk supply.
- Scent up a space: Keep your home smelling fresh by adding a few drops of mint essential oil to your favorite unscented cleaner or just take a cotton ball and dap onto a light bulb.
- Moth repellent/scented sachet: Tie a few branches of strongly scented mint (peppermint, sage, lavender, rosemary, bee-balm) together, or pull off a handful of leaves, and stuff them into the leg of an old nylon stocking. Suspend by a string inside a garment bag, tuck into bags of stored woolen clothing, or just place in your drawers to let your clothes soak up the scent. Refresh periodically to keep the scent fresh.
- Bug repellent: When ants come into the kitchen during the summer, place a few stems of mint, gently crushed, near suspected entry points really does deter ants. You need to replace the mint with fresh material every few days. Also, keep pets flea-free by stuffing a small pillow with fresh spearmint and thyme and placing near your pet’s bed.
Of course, mint isn’t only used to deter bugs it also attracts the beneficial insects. Bees and butterflies and hover flies love mint, which is rich in nectar and pollen, and this benefits pollinated plants and crops.
Credit: Anna Shepulova | Shutterstock
Medicinal Use of Mint Plants
Mint has been long known as an herbal remedy, easing queasy stomachs, calming stress and anxiety, and promoting restful sleep.
Peppermint tea has long been viewed as an excellent way to ease an upset stomach, calming the digestive tract and alleviating indigestion, gas, and cramps.
Mint has also been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Many, perhaps most, are also being uses for human and veterinary medicine, as insecticides or insect repellents, and as antifungal or antibacterial protection for crop plants.
Mints are potent plants, full of phytocompounds that plants manufacture to protect themselves against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other assaults from the environments they evolved in.
Interestingly, there are studies that show spearmint is even beneficial to honeybees by cleaning out the mites that infect their hives.
If herbal medicine interests you, please approach the mints, especially their essential oils, tinctures, and concentrated extracts, with care. This goes for both over-the-counter and homemade remedies.
Although many have been used by traditional healers around the world for centuries, most herbs haven’t undergone rigorous testing for safety and efficacy, especially in pregnant/nursing women, children, elders, and people with chronic illnesses.
Seek out as much information as you can from books, online sources, and experienced herbalists in your area. Inform your healthcare practitioner whenever you begin using an herbal remedy.
Most herbalists recommend staying away from ingesting essential oils as medicines unless under the care and observation of a medical provider experienced with herbal medicines. Out of an abundance of caution, herbalists also urge pregnant and breastfeeding moms, as well as people with serious chronic diseases to avoid even using mint-family essential oils in massage oils.
Many mint-family species contain potent phytocompounds that affect the endocrine system, sometimes dramatically. For example, sage and peppermint, even as tea or food flavorings, can reduce the milk supply in breastfeeding women. The essential oil of pennyroyal, historically used to induce menstruation or as an abortifacient, can be lethal if ingested in a large enough dose to accomplish those purposes.
Some mints contain strongly psychoactive compounds. Among the most potent: the hallucinogenic Salvia divinorum, whose use and/or sale has been banned in many nations, as well as half of U.S. states.
Discover Lemon Balm
You may have heard that mint takes over the garden. It’s mainly spearmint that gives a lot of mints a bad name. Peppermint pretty much stays put as its stolons are short and shallow. Also, peppermint rarely produces viable seeds, so you won’t find it popping up in different garden beds.
Wild spearmint is the real bully, developing an enormous network of tough, quarter-inch-thick rhizomes under flower beds, spilling out into a large section of lawn, sending up a new plant every inch or two from the underground nodes. I’ve pulled up yards and yards and yards of the ropey invaders, but they still keep coming.
But if you are cultivating spearmint in your garden, just give this attractive ground cover plenty of room to spread. Or, plant mint in a container such as a terracotta pot near the kitchen window. In the ground, it’s ideal to grow spearmint in its own bed. But if you want to grow mint in a bed with other herbs or plants, consider sinking a deep bucket or tub without holes into the soil and plant into that. Otherwise, spearmint will choke out other plants in the bed.
When cold weather approaches, plants can be lifted and brought indoors in their own pots to give fresh leaves through the first part of winter.
Note: It is best to grow mints from cuttings, roots, or transplants. Mint seed does not come true to type.