11 Types of Mint to Grow in Your Garden

Mint herb plants with small veined leaves closeup

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Mint plants are among the most commonly grown plants in North American gardens. True mints come from the Metha genus and belong to a broader family of plants, Lamiaceae, that is called the "mint family." While they do bloom (in summer), mint plants are primarily used as flavorful herbs that can be used in the kitchen and as ground covers in the yard. Their strong scent keeps deer from eating them. They are also tough, cold-hardy perennials (herbaceous) that spread easily via rhizomes on their own. In fact, if you plant mints in the wrong place (for example, a neat flower bed), you may end up with mint everywhere. So plant them somewhere where their ability to spread is a benefit, not a drawback.

Here are 11 of the best types of mints to grow in the garden.

  • 01 of 11


    Closeup of peppermint herb.

    EyesWideOpen / Getty Images

    Peppermint has pink flowers and rounded (occasionally, more lance-shaped) leaves. The foliage is toothed along the margins and dark green. A common use for this herb is to flavor teas, but, as with most types of mint, it is also effective in potpourri.

    • Name: Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 12 to 24 in. tall
  • 02 of 11

    Chocolate Mint

    Chocolate mint growing in a pot.

    annick vanderschelden photography / Getty Images

    Chocolate mint, a peppermint relative, is an oddball: The "Chocolate" in its name comes from its smell, not its taste. Its taste is actually orangey. It is used to flavor both drinks and desserts. If you are interested in the aesthetic qualities of this herb, know that it bears foliage that is a darker green than most other types of mint, as well as lavender flowers.

    • Name: Chocolate mint (Mentha × piperita f. citrata 'Chocolate')
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 12 to 24 in. tall
  • 03 of 11


    Spearmint plants in closeup.

    Ana Rocio Garcia Franco / Getty Images

    While spearmint gets its common name from the shape of its leaves, its botanical name could refer to either its foliage or its flowers, which occur on pointy spikes. The flowers are pink to pale violet. Spearmint is a popular flavoring agent for chewing gum and is also used in salads and to flavor teas. Some gardeners prefer the 'Kentucky Colonel' cultivar over others because they feel it has nicer foliage.

    • Name: Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 12 to 24 in. tall
  • 04 of 11


    Pennyroyal in bloom.

    By Eve Livesey / Getty Images

    While pennyroyal is a type of mint, it differs from most in some important respects. For one thing, its most popular use currently is as a pest deterrent rather than as a culinary herb. This mint is toxic and should not be consumed. It also stays shorter and does not have the rapid spread of many types of mint. This makes it effective where a low ground cover is desired. Pennyroyal bears lavender flowers.

    • Name: Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full to partial sun
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 4 to 6 in. tall
    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Corsican Mint

    Corsican mint in container.

    KirstenFowle / Getty Images

    Like pennyroyal, Corsican mint is an excellent choice when you need a short plant (in fact, it is considered a miniature); for example, both are useful for planting the edge of a container. It forms dense mats of tiny leaves and has lilac flowers (although they are so small you can barely see them). Because of its size, tendency to spread, fragrance (released when crushed), and ability to hold up to some foot traffic, it is a great choice for growing between stepping stones.

    • Name: Corsican mint (Mentha requienii)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 0.5 to 1 in. tall
  • 06 of 11


    Watermint stems with blooms.

    Ian_Redding / Getty Images

    Watermint has light lavender flowers and leaves that are dark green with purplish veining. But what makes this mint different from most others is that it can be grown in shallow water. This makes it the obvious mint choice for small water features.

    • Name: Watermint (Mentha aquatica)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 10
    • Light: Full sun to partial sun
    • Soil: Low in fertility; tolerant of more water than most mint plants
    • Mature Size: 12 to 36 in. tall
  • 07 of 11

    Apple Mint

    Apple mint with its light green leaves.

    karimitsu / Getty Images

    Apple mint often has lighter green leaves than do many mints. It has white or light pink blooms. The leaves can be either oblong or ovate. Functioning equally well as a culinary herb (flavor teas with it, for example) and as a ground cover, its common name derives from its smell and taste, both of which are fruity and minty.

    • Name: Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 12 to 24 in. tall
  • 08 of 11

    Pineapple Mint

    Closeup of pineapple mint.

    weisschr / Getty Images

    Pineapple mint is a cultivar of apple mint. It is valued for its variegated leaves. In fact, it is more likely to be grown strictly as an ornamental than the other entries on this list, thanks to the beauty of its leaves. But it is still often used in the kitchen, as well, to flavor fruit salads (it has a fruity aroma, as does apple mint), jellies, and teas. It may also be your best choice if you are looking for a mint to use as a garnish, considering the striking foliage.

    • Name: Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’)  
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun in the North, partial shade in the South
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 24 to 36 in. tall
    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    American Wild Mint

    Mentha canadensis closeup.

    Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Native plant enthusiasts are always looking for alternatives to foreign imports. Mentha canadensis fits the bill for a native mint for North American gardeners. It is native to much of the U.S. and Canada. In the kitchen, it is used in candies, jellies, and teas.

    • Name:  American wild mint (Mentha canadensis)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 10
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, of average fertility, and moist
    • Mature Size: 18 in. tall
  • 10 of 11

    Cuban Mint

    Mojito mint being harvested.

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    This type of mint gets its common names from the fact that it is the authentic mint to use when making the rum cocktail known as "mojito" and so intimately associated with Cuba. Its strong aroma and flavor have made it a favorite. But its function as a culinary herb goes beyond using it in mojitos: Try it, too to flavor teas, for example.

    • Name: Cuban mint (Mentha x villosa)
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 18 to 24 in. tall
  • 11 of 11

    Margarita Mint

    If you like the idea of growing your own mint to flavor or garnish a cocktail, but mojito isn't your thing, you might want to grow Mentha 'Margarita.' Margarita is a trade name formulated specifically to draw in lovers of that favorite Mexican drink, the margarita. Margarita mint, known for its lime-scented leaves, is the perfect complement to a margarita drink.

    Margarita mint also boasts value in the garden. The flowers of Margarita mint, though small, are a nice lilac or purple. Unlike most mints, it spreads via above-ground runners (rooting where they make contact with the ground), not underground rhizomes, making the plant somewhat less invasive than most members of this species. The leaves are small, rounded, and light green (bronzey at the tips).

    • Name: Margarita mint (Mentha 'Margarita')
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8
    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    • Mature Size: 6 to 12 in. tall


Before you plant mint, think about how you want to use it. If you are looking for a nice bit of herb to usein the kitchen, you will do well to plant your mint in a pot to keep it from spreading out of control. If you are looking for a ground cover, try one of the slower growing varieties such as Pennyroyal or Corsican mint.

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