What Are the Different Types of Mint Plants?

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With more than 25 species of mint plants (​Mentha​ spp., USDA zones 5-9) populating the ​Mentha​ genus, selections include traditional herbal mints, varieties with floral or chocolate fragrances and soft- or woolly-leaved types. These rapidly growing, perennial plants are often vigorous spreaders that may become invasive over time. Features shared by most varieties are fragrant foliage, bell-shaped or tubular flowers, square stems and underground runners. You can help prevent mint from taking over your herb garden by growing it in containers, or another option is to grow mint in semi-wild areas of your yard, where it will be an effective ground cover but have its spread controlled.



Different types of mint are suitable for culinary use and as garden border plants and ornamentals.

Herb Garden Mint Plants

Peppermint (​Mentha​ x ​piperita​) and spearmint (​Mentha spicata​) are mints to grow in the herb garden. Both are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Peppermint is usually grown for its aromatic, dark-green, toothed leaves, which exude a fresh, sharp scent when crushed. Growing 1 to 2 feet tall and wide, peppermint features small, pink to lavender flowers on short spikes in summer.


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One of peppermint's parents is spearmint, the leaves of which have a slightly sweeter fragrance and taste. Spearmint grows up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet 3 inches wide. Flowering in late summer, spearmint bears small, pale-pink flowers.

Garden Border Mint Plants

Brushing past mints in garden borders releases a burst of fragrance. Varieties suitable for those locations include Lavender mint (​Mentha​ x ​piperita​ 'Lavender'), which carries a rich, flowery scent in its gray-green leaves. In summer, its showy, butterfly-attracting, lilac flowers appear. Lavender mint grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.


Another option for garden borders is Chocolate mint (​Mentha​ × ​piperita​ f. ​citrata​ 'Chocolate'). It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide, and its chocolate-scented leaves are dark green. Bearing small, lavender flowers in summer, 'Chocolate' mint has few insect or disease problems. Both Lavender and Chocolate mint are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9.


Paths and Ornamental Beds

Ornamental mint varieties are planted for their forms and foliage. Among that kind are Corsican mint (​Mentha requienii​, zones 6-9) and horsemint (​Mentha longifolia​, zones 4-9). Corsican mint grows in dense mats of tiny leaves and threadlike stems, forming patches 1/2 to 1 inch tall and 12 inches wide or wider. Tolerating light foot traffic, Corsican mint gives off a fresh fragrance when crushed. Horsemint features woolly, gray foliage and lavender-blue summer flowers, and it grows 1 1/2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide.


Both types of these mints can be consumed. Corsican mint is a good culinary herb. Horsemint has a bitter flavor and is often used for medicinal purposes.

Mint Plants for Small Spaces

Slowly spreading mints are useful to grow where space or time for controlling the plants is in short supply. Such varieties include Bowles apple mint (​Mentha​ x ​villosa​ var. ​alopecuroides​ 'Bowles'). It's less invasive than some other mint varieties and offers soft, rounded, light-green leaves with an apple-mint fragrance. Growing 2 feet tall and wide, Bowles is hardy in zones 6-10.


Perennial in USDA zones 5 through 8, Margarita mint (​Mentha​ x) spreads by overground runners, which makes its growth simple to control. Margarita mint features tiny, lime-scented, bright-green leaves and very small, lilac or purple flowers during summer. Clumps of the plant grow 6 to 12 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide.




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