Common name: Peppermint
Scientific name: Mentha x piperita
Uses: Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, and medicinal.Fresh or dried leaves scent sachets and potpourris. They also are used in herbal water to refresh and cool skin, in facials to cleanse skin, and in lotions. Peppermint flavors candy, gum, teas, mint water, vinegars, jellies, and sauces. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: The Romans crowned themselves with peppermint, and the poet Ovid referred to mint as a symbol of hospitality. The Greeks believed peppermint could clear the voice and cure hiccups. It was thought to be a remedy for mad dog bites when combined with salt. The colonists brought peppermint to America for medicinal use.
Description: This sterile hybrid has erect, square stems tinted reddish purple. The dark green leaves are opposite, ovate to lanceolate, with serrated edges. The axillary flowers have purple terminal spikes.
Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: Hardiness zone 5
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Width: 12 to 24 inches.
Soil: moist, rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5
Pests: spider mites, loopers, flea beetles, root borers, grasshoppers, cutworms, root weevils, and aphids
Disease: Verticillium wilt, mint rust, mint anthracnose
Cultivation: Since peppermint does not produce seeds, take cuttings in summer and place in a growth medium. Keep moist and transplant when the root system is well established. Peppermint spreads rather quickly by runners. Contain it in pots buried in the garden with the rim exposed or plant in a large area where it can spread. Frequent cuttings or mowing of large plots will keep mints at their prettiest. In late fall, cut plants to the ground and mulch where winters are severe.
Companion planting: This plant is said to repel aphids, flea beetles, and cabbage pests. Grow near roses to deter aphids.
Propagation: Cuttings or division.
Flowering period: July to August
Garden notes: Our 4-inch seedlings were planted inside 5-gallon pots with the bottoms cut out. Since the garden was a one-season project, we buried the pots in the ground with about 1 to 2 inches of rim exposed to inhibit spreading growth. We controlled creeping runners by ripping them out whenever they invaded adjacent areas. The runners wrapped themselves around the inside of the pot many times despite our diligent efforts.