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Mints have many uses. Some make a refreshing tea, some are used in cooking while others are used to repel pests. Mints should be kept in a pot or hanging basket as they spread easily by their vigorous rhizomes. Some mints are dormant in winter and they enjoy a pruning at this time to prevent attack by fungus and pests.
• Apple - Mentha suaveolens
Oval leaves, hairy, apple-scented shrub to 60 cm. Good in mint sauce. White flowers in summer. A variegated variety is occasionally available, and this doesn’t usually grow higher than 40 cm and it not as invasive as most other mints.
• Chocolate - Mentha piperata var
Chocolate-peppermint scent. Small herb to 40 cm. Liliac flowers in spring. It tastes like mint with a strong hint of chocolate, and makes a lovely mint tea. Also used in after-diner snacks. Dip the leaves in melted chocolate and then eat when chocolate sets. Make a plunger of choc mint leaves and slices of orange – jaffa.
• Common - Mentha cordifolia
The most popular cooking mint and great for drinks, potato salad and mint sauce. Grows to about 40 cm high. White flowers in summer.
• Corsican - Mentha requienii
Tiny peppermint-scented bright green leaves. Good ground cover in small spaces or as stepping stones in moist areas of the garden.
• Eau de cologne - Mentha piperata var Citrata
Bergamot-scented purple tinged leaves (like the perfume 4711), with purple stems. Leaves for potpourri and can be used in drinks and jellies. Pink flowers in summer.
• Ginger - Mentha gentilis
Reddish, tapered, serrated leaves. Pink to white flowers in summer. Leaves add a fruity flavour to drinks and desserts.
• Liquorice - Agastache rugosa
This is a variety of Korean mint. Hardy perennial to 1m. Strong liquorice-mint fragrance and taste. Good for teas and to flavour salads.
• Mountain mint – Pycnanthemum muticum
Native of North America. Also called Short-toothed Mountain Mint. 1 m. White to pinkish flowers. Aromatic leaves, insect repellent properties, attracts butterflies.
• Pennyroyal - Mentha pulegium
Essential oil. Used in gardens and pathways and aroma released when you walk over it. Repels ants and fleas, good for an area in garden for your dog to lie on.
• Peppermint - Mentha piperata
Strong flavour makes a refreshing tea, either hot or cold. Also used as an inhalant and is good for the digestive system. Needs to be contained in hanging basket or pot. Commercial source of menthol.
• Spearmint - Mentha spicata
Spreading low shrub to 50 cm. Lilac flowers in summer. Keep contained. Refreshing cool drink. Place tea in fridge, or place tea and leaves in ice block trays to freeze.
• Stone - Cunila origanoides
Fresh, minty flavour. Perennial to 0.3 m. The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). The plant prefers well-drained light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. The fresh or dried leaves can be used to make a tea to treat headaches, colds and fevers.