Growing peppermint in your backyard garden can provide you with so much more than just a fresh breath after a long day at work or school. Learning how to grow peppermint plant from seed is actually quite easy, but first let us discuss a little about this wonderful plant itself.
This aromatic plant has been a popular herbal ingredient for locals and tourists alike since before recorded history. Peppermint has a very tall stem that reaches up to ten feet in height and has a spreading root system that keeps it from spreading out into new areas of land.
The leaves of peppermint are shiny and elliptical, with the tip being wider than the rest of the body. The fragrance of this plant is great, as is its flavor, and people often use it to flavor foods, including pepper, hot dogs, salads, and more. In fact, its scent can spread far beyond what it provides on its own and is often used as a natural pesticide.
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The History of Peppermint
The herb peppermint was introduced in Ancient Egypt. It was used as an antidote to poisonous insects and to help alleviate coughs and colds.
Later the mint was brought to the Mediterranean and used by the ancient Egyptians as a treatment for stomach aches, headaches, flatulence, and as a cough suppressant.
Peppermint is one of the world’s famous scented candles. This is because the scent of the candles dates back to more than a thousand years ago.
In the early eighteen hundreds the first perfume was created in England out of a mixture of different oils. The combination resulted into something that has now become known as perfume.
The name of the scent was ‘Peppermint’ and this is how it got its name. The flower bud is named after the Roman goddess ‘Pepea’.
Later on, a tradition emerged saying that burning aromatic candles would keep bad spirits away. The word ‘perfume’ had another meaning and this is when people started making and using fragrance in much larger quantities.
The first type of perfume that can be traced back to Peppermint’s History is Menthol. Later on, other oils were discovered and these were named after plants that gave off their aroma.
The discovery of the various oils gave way to the modern-day perfume or fragrance. This became the very popular option for perfumes all over the world and there are various types available.
Medicinal Uses of Peppermint
Peppermint essential oil has been used in treating cold sores, treating sinusitis, treating urinary tract infections, treating athlete’s foot fungus, and more. The oil has been used to help treat a wide variety of illnesses and conditions including diabetes, oral contraceptives, asthma, stress, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and more.
- Relieves headaches
- Helps Nausea
- Stomach cramps
- Improves memory
- Helps with Irritable bowel syndrome
- Anti-inflammatory and muscle pain relief
- Anxiety / Stress
- Skin Health
- Asthma and tuberculosis relief
- Reduces the symptoms of coughs, colds, flu
- Helps with congestion
- Treating sinusitis,
- Urinary tract infections,
- Treats athlete’s foot fungus
Germinating Peppermint Seeds
You can germinate peppermint seeds indoors or outdoors. I’ve always grown mine indoors, but there are now easier ways to do it.
When planting your seeds make sure to space them 3 – 4″ apart. Next, get your Peppermint seeds and press them into the loose soil about 1/4″ deep. Then you want to lightly cover the seeds with soil. After that grab a spray bottle and mist them with some water. Now cover the seeds with the provided dome cover.
In order to germinate your peppermint seeds, you need to get the moisture just right. Make sure you water the area until the soil feels moist, but do not overwater. For germination, you will need full or partial sunlight with a temperature of between 68 -75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the area remains dry after a day or two, then you just did not germinate your seeds.
Another great method of germinating seeds quickly is with the paper towel method.
You simply wet a paper towel and wring it so that it’s moist but not dripping wet. You will then place your peppermint seeds into the paper towel and fold it in half.
Next get a ziplock bag and place the moist paper towel inside the bag. Now place it in a warm area such as on a sunny windowsill. After 2 – 3 days you will want to remove the paper towel from the ziplock bag and check if your seeds have sprouted.
Selecting a Pot or Planter
Your choice will depend greatly on the amount of space that you have available for planting. If you don’t have a small garden, you can get away with a smaller pot, but for those who have a larger area to work with, the larger pots are best.
This is why I always recommend growing small plants in medium-size pots, unless you plan on harvesting the leaves. You can also choose pots that are specially designed for herbs.
Another thing you should be aware of is that the type of plant that you are trying to grow will affect the type of pot you need to get. For instance, most herbs like full sun and will do best in pots that are about twelve inches in diameter. This will give the plant room so to allow the air to circulate around the plant.
Some herbs like their roots to be in the shade, so you might want to get a smaller pot – six to eight inches in diameter is a common size for herbs that like it to be somewhat shaded out.
And don’t forget to get a pot that has holes in the bottom for water drainage. For example, you could buy a beautiful terracotta or ceramic container, fill it with sterile soil, add some rocks and pebbles, and then let your herbs grow wild and healthy.
Using Proper Soil
When choosing the soil for growing peppermint, it is important to pick one with a great deal of drainage. The soil should drain easily, and it should not stay wet. If the area you choose drains well, the plant will be less likely to get burned or root rot, especially during the growing season.
Check with your local nursery to find out what kind of soil they suggest. In some cases, they may even be able to provide you with special soil that will help you grow your plants properly.
Proper watering is one of the most important factors that affect the health of your herbs. In fact, they are living creatures just like us and depending on how much water they receive each day, their growth could be stunted.
Some experts suggest that if you do not provide them with a constant water supply, you could be depriving them of essential nutrients. The amount of water depends on the kind of plant you have as well as the soil where you’re planting them.
First off, you must determine when you should provide them with water. You should do this every day whether you’re indoors or outdoors. If you want to know how much water your plants need to stay healthy, then you should consult a watering chart.
This would give you an idea of the amount of water to be given to your plants depending on the season. A watering chart will also inform you of the different watering days that you need to follow depending on the season.
You will also have an idea of how much water they should receive during summer months and winter months. During the spring and summer months, you need to water your herb plants every other day while in the fall and winter months, it is important that you water them at least once a week.
The reason behind this is, so they can recover faster from the dryness. When it comes to watering your herbs, it is not only for their health but also for the health of the soil. It would be wise to water them in the morning as this is when the soil absorbs the most nutrients.
Knowing the correct amount of sunlight your peppermint plant needs is extremely important if you want to get the most from your plants. When it comes to caring for a peppermint plant, you can grow it in full sun if you water it frequently. Peppermint is one of the few culinary herbs that grow well in partially shady areas.
It is very important to use the correct amount of fertilizer when you are growing peppermint. Fertilizer is especially important if you have young or small plants. Young plants have a tendency to experience droughts more frequently than those that have been grown for years.
Droughts can stunt your plants and reduce their overall health. Fertilizer is crucial to the overall growth of your peppermint plant. Do not wait until your plants are in the ground to begin providing your plants with fertilizer, as this will be too late.
You will want to prune back any extra foliage that is growing on your herbs. This may include any blooms or leaves that are beyond your control.
By pruning back extra foliage, it will make it easier for you to do other things such as applying fertilizer or water your plants. It will also help you to maintain all the healthy growth that you have enjoyed with your herbs.
It is important to prune back any branches that have reached too far up the plant. The branches that grow higher than five feet should be removed.
The best time to do this is in late winter or early spring. When you prune the branches, be sure to only remove enough branch so that the rest of the plant is not damaged.
Removing too much can result in your herbs not having the same flavor when they are harvested. You can trim back unwanted high-growing branches by cutting back the entire stem.
Be careful not to cut the stem too far back, however, or it may grow back unnaturally. Once you have removed all the unnecessary growth, the plant will be stronger and more resilient.
In addition, the extra growth will cover and protect the area that you did not trim. This can help to provide structure and privacy to your herbs.
Once the plant is the desired shape, you can hang the plant on a drying rack and wait for it to dry completely. If you are in a location where sunlight is difficult to come by, you might consider putting your harvested herb plants directly into your refrigerator instead of letting them dry over time.
Harvest your plants immediately following a hard frost and save them for added flavor to your recipes!
Today peppermint is still used as a flavoring agent in Italian and Greek recipes. The culinary beneficial effects of peppermint can be found in the flavor of pizza and pasta sauces, gingerbread cookies, raisins, and even the stuffing for turkey.
Some people also believe that peppermint tea is helpful in fighting flu and colds. Mint leaves can be chewed or mixed in water to make a drink, although you do have to be careful with the amount of water you use.
The leaves should be eaten as soon as possible because they are bitter. You will also need to dry the leaves thoroughly to avoid bitter tasting chewable tablets.
Because it is such a versatile herb, it has many medicinal uses. You can either use the whole herb when making cooking herb recipes, or you can combine the leaves with other herbs and produce a mixture to use as a spice or flavor in your favorite recipes.
Among the many peppermint health benefits, getting digestive systems back in order is one. There are a few different ways to use peppermint tea for digestive problems.
You could, of course, brew a nice pot of tea. But you could also use a tea bag, place a few leaves inside your mouth, chew a few pieces of peppermint gum, or take some peppermint capsules.
No matter how you choose to take it, though, the peppermint tea will do its job-giving you a soothing, deodorizing feeling right away. Peppermint has also been shown to be an excellent natural remedy for stomach ulcers.
Because of this, the National Institute of Health has deemed menthol as one of the essential herbal ingredients that should be on your shopping list. Yes, you read that right: peppermint is now being considered a dietary supplement, which means it is good for you!
In fact, the National Institute of Health is looking at menthol as a potential treatment for heart disease and cancer. Menthol is now listed as a flavonoid, a chemical that promotes the immune system and may lower cholesterol.
And there’s already evidence that peppermint increases blood flow, fights infection and relieves constipation. So if you have seasonal allergies, peppermint is probably one of your top choices when it comes to treating your allergies.
It’s a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it gobbles up free radicals, leaving you with fewer health risks. As an added benefit, peppermint is also a strong antiviral, meaning that it can keep viruses from invading your body.
And did I mention that peppermint health benefits are due to its ability to relieve congestion? Peppermint has the ability to eliminate mucus and let you breathe easier, so even if you just need to clear your nasal passages, you should use peppermint to do it.
Peppermint for Pest Control
If you are dealing with a problem with pesky insects such as ants, there are several products that are designed to effectively repel and kill these intruders. Peppermint is especially effective at getting rid of the most persistent of intruders, such as those that might be building nests in your dryer, windowsills, or other areas.
You can also use peppermint oil for personal protection against bites from insects and other pests. If you have children, peppermint oil is an excellent choice for pest control because children often put themselves in harm’s way, and peppermint is well known as a natural deterrent for biting.