While mint is commonly grown for its aromatic and flavorsome leaves, there’s a lot to love about mint flowers too.
In this guide, our expert gardeners will tell you all you need to know about taking care of mint flowers. We’ll also talk about the various different types and the numerous uses for mint flowers.
Let’s find out more.
How to take care of mint flowers
Growing mint outdoors takes very little effort, and it’s an excellent project for any gardener. These resilient plants pretty much look after themselves, requiring little maintenance.
Here’s the list of growing conditions you will need to provide to ensure that your mint plant blooms:
Mint grows best in rich, loamy soils that are slightly acidic. If you have a pH meter, you can check the soil acidity and aim for a range between 5.5 and 7.0. This plant’s unpretentious nature also makes it a good choice for growing in clay soils, although soil amendments will be needed to provide good drainage.
When growing mint outdoors, it’s best to keep an eye on it, as this plant can spread very fast and become invasive. If possible, grow it in containers, and trim the bottom stalks regularly. Often, mint plants will start drooping, and once they touch the soil, they can easily sprout roots (or stolons), creating even more plants — not a problem if you really like mint, though.
Mint prefers brightly lit parts of the garden but will grow just as well in partial shade. In order to grow a healthy plant, make sure that your mint receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, otherwise, it can become leggy. Some mint varieties need more sunlight than others, so check the specifications for each cultivar when buying it from your local nursery or garden center.
Mint is particular about one thing: water. Keep these plants in a well-draining soil that is kept moist, especially during hot days. In summer, you might even have to water your mint plants every day. Yet as much as this plant loves moisture, it can also suffer from overwatering. Signs of a mint plant that’s been watered too much are yellow leaves, soft, droopy stems, and leaves that are more vulnerable to pests, such as rot, mildew, or mint rust.
When growing mint indoors in pots, you will also need to provide them with a humidity of around 70 — 75%, otherwise, the leaves can crisp up or start yellowing. Simply place your mint on a pebble tray or next to a humidifier and you should be all set.
The ideal temperature range for growing mint is between 13-21°C (55-70°F). Although mint is a cold-hardy perennial, the top of the plant will die if exposed to frost, but the roots will survive underground. You can safely leave your mint outside during winter, whether it’s potted or planted in the soil, and you can be sure that it will bloom again the next year.
Mint plants need rich, fertile soils for proper growth, with high levels of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. You can apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring, after the danger of frost has passed, and make sure that the soil is kept well watered.
Apply fertilizer once a month and stop feeding your mint plants around 2 weeks before you start harvesting the leaves.
How do you get mint to flower?
A mint plant that’s provided with the right growing conditions will flower naturally. So you don’t need to do anything, in particular, to get it to bloom. Mint flowers start appearing in early summer and continue to bloom until early autumn. Young plants typically begin flowering in their second year.
How many types of mint are there?
There are around 20 individual species of mint. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number because hybridization often occurs between mint plants, which has resulted in hundreds of varieties and cultivars. Some types of mint enjoy great popularity with gardeners and homeowners due to their unique flavors and colors.
Here are 10 of the most popular ones, used for both flowers and leaves:
- Spearmint (or Nana mint): possibly the most common mint variety, it is used in a wide range of foods and drinks, and has pink or purple flowers;
- Peppermint: popular for its intense flavor and numerous medicinal uses, peppermint contains more menthol than spearmint, and it produces flowers ranging from white to purple;
- Chocolate mint: its leaves combine the flavors of mint and chocolate, while the brown stalks and lavender-colored flowers have great ornamental value;
- Apple mint: also known as pineapple mint, it has a pleasant, fruity aftertaste and decorative pink blooms;
- Lemon mint: the leaves have a light, citrusy flavor, and its flowers are a real show-stopper, blooming in large, purple bouquets throughout summer
- Strawberry mint: the freshness of mint and sweetness of strawberries go great together, which is why this variety enjoys great popularity; the light pink flowers also have some decorative value;
- Water mint: a vigorous plant that enjoys lots of moisture, it produces aromatic leaves and globe-like pink to light purple flower clusters;
- Grapefruit mint: the leaves of this plant are intensely fragrant, with the smell and taste of real grapefruit;
- Lemon balm: citrusy and almost lemongrass-like in flavor, lemon balm has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries, and it also makes a showy addition to your garden;
- Catmint (or catnip): although it’s not as tasty as other mint varieties, catmint is a great addition to your garden if you have cats as pets, and it also produces tall clusters of flowers ranging from white to purple.
Can you eat mint flowers?
Mint flowers are edible and have a similar taste to the leaves. They are minty and fragrant, although the aromas are not as intense as those of the leaves. Depending on the mint variety, the flowers can also have notes of lemon, grapefruit, apple, and even a hint of chocolate.
What can you do with mint flowers?
Mint flowers are very versatile and have almost as many uses as the leaves.
Here are just some of the things they can be used for:
- Decorative landscaping
- DIY home decor
- Good for wildlife
– Cooking with mint flowers
Use your mint flowers in the kitchen, alongside the leaves. They are a great addition to Middle Eastern dishes to enhance aromas, especially when paired with lamb. Mix them in salads, or even just sprinkle on top as a decorative garnish. When harvesting and drying your mint leaves, you can do the same with the flowers, and use them later in tea. You can also freeze the flowers in ice trays, and turn them into unique ice cubes that go great in a cold drink during summer.
If you’re into baking, mint flowers are a great choice for making shortbread cookies topped with edible flowers or livening up the icing on a cake. Or, if you prefer savory dishes, you can also use them to make floral spring rolls — perfect for dipping in a bit of sesame sauce.
– Decorative landscaping
Mint is unpretentious and will easily grow in any garden, making them a choice ground cover. The flowers add a touch of color during the summer months when your garden will become livelier with a touch of white, pink, or purple blooms.
– Do-it-yourself home decor
Dried mint flowers can be used around your house to create decorative pieces. Small bouquets of mint flowers, especially the purple ones, look similar to miniature lavender and are uniquely fragrant. You can use them in potpourri, press and hang them in frames as paintings, weave them in a wreath, or even just keep them in a vase.
– Good for wildlife
Mint flowers are also valuable for the environment. Many species of pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, rely on the rich nectar for food during summer. Also, the flowers can attract other insects, which in turn attract numerous species of birds, such as warblers, kinglets, vireos, and tanagers. Mint flowers also attract hummingbirds — perfect if you’re looking to create a bird-friendly garden.
Should you let your mint plants flower?
Whether you want to let your mint flower or not is really up to you. The health of the plant is not affected if you cut the flowers. In fact, it is recommended that you remove the flower heads, as when mint plants flower, it can cause the plant to lose its essential oils, making the leaves less aromatic. Also, allowing your mint to bloom can cause the plant to produce fewer leaves and become less bushy, as it uses more energy in producing flowers.
However, mint flowers do have ornamental value, especially varieties such as lemon mint or even peppermint. The flowers are also beneficial for wildlife and have their own culinary uses, same as the leaves.
What we recommend is that you leave some flower stalks to bloom on your mint plant. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a bushy plant that produces highly aromatic leaves, providing nectar for bees and butterflies, as well as allowing you to take delight in their unique beauty. Once the flowers start wilting, it’s best to remove them, as they will start producing seeds and cause the mint to spread further into your garden.
If you’re growing several varieties of mint in your garden, it’s best to remember that mint is notoriously easy to hybridize, and that cross-pollination will most likely occur.
To prevent this, you can remove the flowering heads of the mint plants you don’t want to mix with your other cultivars.
Mint is a fantastic plant to grow outdoors and indoors alike. Easy to grow and maintain, fragrant and beautiful, it also has a host of uses.
Here’s a brief rundown of its numerous qualities:
- Mint is unpretentious and easy to grow in any garden.
- There are hundreds of mint varieties, each with its own unique flavors.
- Mint flowers are edible and have plenty of culinary uses.
- Allowing your mint to flower will reduce the amount of essential oils in the leaves.
- However, mint flowers do have their own value, so don’t remove them all just yet!
What’s your favorite type of mint? Let us know your success stories in the comments!