How to Germinate Peppermint
With their unmistakable taste of peppermint, candy canes herald the winter holiday season, but peppermint is also used to flavor many other food and beverage items, including tea. Because of this herb’s prolific growing habit, you’ll have a never-ending supply of leaves to brew your own tea if you grow peppermint (Mentha x piperita), which has a perennial range across U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9.
Instead of setting out transplants, growing peppermint from seeds offers many gardeners even more satisfaction as they watch the entire transformation from seed to harvest.
Germinating Peppermint Indoors or Outdoors
You can start peppermint seeds inside your home or greenhouse or outdoors in your garden. If you want to set out transplants in spring, start peppermint seeds indoors in late winter. This gives the seeds time to germinate and grow into seedlings, which you can set outside when the weather warms in springtime. However, if you want to sow peppermint seeds directly in your garden, wait until spring to start them outside.
Regardless of when you start peppermint seeds, their first-year growth is a little slow. Keep the small seedlings and young plants well watered during their first growth year to help their root systems develop, and you’ll see a big growth spurt beginning in the second year. You’ll be able to grow peppermint outside year round if you live within its perennial range.
Starting Mint Seeds Indoors
In late spring, fill seed trays or small pots with a soilless mix and make sure the containers have drainage holes. If you use garden soil, it may be too heavy for the tiny seedling roots to penetrate. If you use a potting mix that contains fertilizer, the chemicals in the fertilizer may burn the seedlings and their roots. Use a professional grower’s mix for starting seeds or blend your own by using ingredients such as peat moss, perlite and vermiculite.
Thoroughly water the medium until the excess water runs freely from the drainage holes. Sow peppermint seeds on the surface and lightly press them into the mix. Seedlings germinate best when exposed to light, so don’t cover them with the mix. Keep the growing medium moist by misting it each day.
Peppermint seedlings typically germinate in 10 to 16 days at room temperature.
Growing Mint From Seed Outdoors
Prepare a garden spot in a location that receives some shade from the afternoon heat by removing all weeds and loosening the soil. Apply a thin layer of fine-grade vermiculite, which you can find in garden centers, over the prepared bed. Moisten the vermiculite by spraying it with a water wand set on a mist or light shower setting so as not to disturb the vermiculite. Scatter peppermint seeds over the moist vermiculite, lightly cover with no more than ¼ inch of vermiculite and water again with the mist setting.
Keep the bed moist by misting it a couple of times each day until the seeds germinate. You may want to cover the bed with floating row covers, which you can easily remove to make sure the medium stays moist, to prevent wildlife from interfering with your newly sown seeds or to protect it from strong rains.
Invasive Nature of Peppermint
Its robust growth and easy-care nature make peppermint an easy plant to grow, but this same quality can also be a drawback. It’s a prolific spreader, to the point that it may aggressively spread into unintended (and unwanted) areas in your yard and garden. Two solutions to this challenge are using vertical barriers, which you can find at your local garden center, and planting peppermint in containers.
If you use vertical barriers, you must drive them into the ground to a depth of 12 inches to control the spread of peppermint by its underground rhizomes. Even if you use these barriers, the stems may root wherever they touch the ground outside the barriers.
Peppermint is a super plant for deck and patio containers. Use a large container to give this plant room to spread and cut any trailing stems that may touch the ground below the pot to prevent your plant from rooting where it touches and spreading along the ground.
How to Germinate Peppermint. Peppermint is among the most popular variety of mint grown in home gardens. It adds a burst of flavor to beverages and desserts. Germinating peppermint seeds indoors, six weeks before the last frost, allows you to get a head start on growing peppermint in your home garden, but it can be …