Mint makes are really good ground cover plant for those areas you really don't know what to do with. It will die back in the winter making it great for those who hate to rake leaves out of the ground cover. Once established Spearmint needs little attention, no feeding and no water, but it can be used in culinary dishes and summer drinks and makes an excellent green foliage accent to any flower arrangement.
Spearmint - like any mint - is fast spreading so will cover any area quickly but be aware it will spread to anything it you let it. Spearmint can also be used to make a herbal lawn, as long as you don't mind it being bear in the winter. Mowing will keep the plants in check and prevent them spreading as quickly. Make sure you have a spare space before you put mint in the ground. If you don't keep it in a pot to contain it. Spearmint makes a great patio or container plant.
Bright to medium green ovate shaped leaves with strong sharp toothed edges up to 1 1/2" long. Leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on a stoat square shaped stem. Growing to about two feet in height they produce numerous whorls of flowers in slender spikes at the end of the stems in mid to late summer. Flowers are small tube shaped pale lavender to white in color. Although not very showy in their own right they can be quite noticeable en mass.
Care and Placement.
Spearmint likes sunlight. It can grow in partial shade but it tend to be lanky. However in areas where days are long and hot a little afternoon shade would be beneficial. Sunlight increases the production of the essential oils that give the plant it's wonderful smell and taste so if you intend to use it make sure it has plenty of light.
It is a very resilient plant and can grow on almost any soil type with only a little water. It is very happy in moist soils so heavy clay and soils that retain water well are idea. If growing in sandy soil if the area does not get intermittent rain some water will need to be added. It can tolerate fairly acidic soils but will also grow well in an alkaline environment.
The creeping root system can travel quite long distances to create more plants so don't expect a narrow pathway to stop it's spread, a driveway most likely would be a challenge for it however. In a sunny area once established it can quite easily beat out native plants and produce a nice ground cover, although woodland edges may be more difficult.
Growing from seed.
Because of genetic diversity and a tendency for spearmint to hybridize with other plants in the same family the plants you raise will not be the same as the one the seed came from. Like many plants there will be a variety some will have a higher oil content than others and some will have a better flavor or scent. Plants may also have different growing styles, some compact and short others taller.
The exciting thing about growing from seed is that you get to pick which plants you like the best and work with those (this is how breeders make new plant varieties). You can choose which ones you prefer the look of or which ones have the best taste and take cutting from these to increase your plant stock. If it is essential that you have a specific plant you will be better off purchasing one from a garden center but if you want a ground cover or a more diverse range of plants and flavors growing from seed is the way to go.
Growing from seed is easy. Seeds are very small but germinate quickly and seedling survival is fairly good even for those with little experience in growing from seed. It is suggested that you start seeds in a seed tray and transfer plants when they are large enough to handle not planting outside until plants are large enough to survive alone.
The best time to harvest your spearmint leaves is in the morning when the concentration of essential oils is the highest. Wait until any dew or