11 Types of Mint to Grow in Your Garden

Closeup of pineapple mint.

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Species from the mint (Mentha) genus are among the most commonly grown plants in North American gardens. They belong to a broader family of plants, Lamiaceae, that is called the "mint family." This means that the true mints (genus, Mentha) are related to such landscape plants as Salvia and catmint (Nepeta spp.). It's easy to tell whether you already have one of these plants growing in your yard: Mint family members always have square stems.

It is easy to see why mints are so popular. While they do bloom (in summer), their value is generally not in how they look but in the functions that they can serve. Mints can serve as flavorful herbs in the kitchen and as ground covers in the yard. Their strong scent keeps the deer from eating them. But this is only one reason why they are so easy to grow. They are also tough, cold-hardy perennials (herbaceous) that spread (via rhizomes) on their own. In fact, if you plant mints in the wrong place (for example, a flower bed where you are looking for well-behaved plants), you may end up with too much of a good thing. 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

    Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)

    Closeup of peppermint herb.

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    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.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 12 to 24 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 02 of 11

    Chocolate Mint (Mentha × piperita f. citrata 'Chocolate')

    Chocolate mint growing in a pot.

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    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.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 12 to 24 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 03 of 11

    Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

    Spearmint plants in closeup.


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    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. You are probably familiar with its flavor if you chew gum, but it 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.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 12 to 24 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 04 of 11

    Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)

    Pennyroyal in bloom.


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    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 (it has toxic qualities). It also stays shorter than do many types of mint, making it effective where a low ground cover is desired. Pennyroyal bears lavender flowers.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
    • Height: 4 to 6 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii)

    Corsican mint in container.

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    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.

    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 0.5 to 1 inch
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 06 of 11

    Watermint (Mentha aquatica)

    Watermint stems with blooms.


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    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. Harvest the leaves for use as a balm or for the usual culinary applications (salads, flavoring teas, etc.) for mints.

    • USDA Zones: 3 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
    • Height: 12 to 36 inches
    • Soil Needs: Low in fertility; tolerant of more water than most mint plants
  • 07 of 11

    Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)

    Apple mint with its light green leaves.


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    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.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 12 to 24 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 08 of 11

    Pineapple Mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’)

    Closeup of pineapple mint.


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    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 are the other entries on this list, thanks to the beauty of its leaves. But you can still use it in the kitchen, too if you like. Use it 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 how striking its foliage is.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun in the North, partial shade in the South
    • Height: 24 to 36 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)

    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. Traditional medicinal uses range from curing toothaches to treating hiccups.

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 18 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, of average fertility, and moist
  • 10 of 11

    Cuban, or "Mojito" Mint (Mentha x villosa)

    Mojito mint being harvested.

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    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.

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 18 to 24 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist
  • 11 of 11

    Margarita Mint (Mentha 'Margarita')

    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).

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 6 to 12 inches
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich, and moist