Aside from being a popular herb used in aromatic food and also in cocktails for an added kick, mint is also used in making essential oils, in hygienic kits and even in some perfumes.
If you want a steady supply of mint for food preparation, natural insect and rodent repelling remedy, planting one would do the trick.
You might not know this but there are different types of mint plants. In this post, we run down the most common types of mint for you to know which ones you should plant.
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In this article:
- How to Identify Mint Plants
- Types of mint plants
- 1. American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)
- 2. Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)
- 3. Banana Mint (Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’)
- 4. Basil Mint (Mentha x piperita f.citrata ‘Basil’)
- 5. Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
- 6. Catmint (Nepeta racemosa)
- 7. Chocolate Mint (Mentha × piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’)
- 8. Corn (field) Mint/American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)
- 9. Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii)
- 10. Cuban, or “Mojito” Mint (Mentha x villosa)
- 11. Eau de Cologne Mint/Orange Mint/bergamot mint (Mentha piperita citrata)
- 12. Egyptian Mint (Mentha niliaca)
- 13. Ginger Mint (Mentha x gracilis)
- 14. Grapefruit Mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Grapefruit’)
- 15. Hart’s Pennyroyal (Mentha cervina)
- 16. Hemingway Peppermint (Mentha nemorosa)
- 17. Horsemint/Buddleia Mint (Mentha longifolia)
- 18. Lavender Mint (Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’)
- 19. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
- 20. Licorice Mint (Agastache rupestris)
- 21. Margarita Mint (Mentha ‘Margarita’)
- 22. Pennyroyal Mint (Mentha pulegium)
- 23. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
- 24. Pineapple Mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’)
- 25. Red Raripila mint (Mentha rubra raripila)
- 26. Slender Mint (Mentha diemenica)
- 27. Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
- 28. Strawberry Mint (Mentha spicata subsp. citrata ‘Strawberry’)
- 29. Watermint (Mentha aquatic)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Types Of Mints
How to Identify Mint Plants
There are three ways to identify a mint plant. The first one would be in terms of scent. Mint plants have a distinct ‘minty’ aroma which separates them from other strong-scented plants.
Depending on the variety of mint that you come across, they could differ in terms of intensity. You can also rub your finger on the leaf of the mint plant. If you get an oily finger after, that is definitely mint.
The next identifier would be the stem. All mint plants have a square stem. As for the leaves, they are oblong, a bit toothed on the edges and they have narrow tips. They have a color ranging from light to deep green.
Types of mint plants
As have been mentioned, there are different types of mints out there. They vary in terms of intensity of aroma, and some subtle characteristics. Here are the most common types of mint plants that you should know of.
1. American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)
This type of mint plant is probably the most in demand mint grown in the gardens of North America. Aside from the aroma, it is also very ornamental. It Is well known for its uses in food and considered one of the main ingredients for jellies, teas, and candies.
It is also best known as a cure to hiccups and toothaches. When growing this type of mint, its major needs are well-drained soil and enough sunlight.
2. Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)
It is also known as the pineapple or wooly mint. It produces beautiful flowers during summer. It is also popular for its unique, fruity aftertaste which they say, tastes like real apple.
It is more cold hardy than the others and is used mainly for ornamental purposes rather than for culinary needs.
Nonetheless, it is still used in making apple mint jelly, for teas, and as garnish for salads. Fun fact, the apple mint is best to grow along with peas, tomatoes, cabbages, and broccolis. It is said that apple mint enhances vegetable profile.
3. Banana Mint (Mentha arvensis ‘Banana’)
This type is not known to many, but you can identify this mint plant through its aroma that is close to a banana. This produces lilac-colored flowers that blooms during summer and has leaves that are highly scented.
Banana mint is mostly used as an ingredient to desserts such as cookies, muffins, ice creams, banana bread and good for fruit salads. It is also used in beverages.
As a hybrid mint, it is propagated best through cuttings. If you intend to grow it, you have to know that it thrives best in highly shaded areas.
4. Basil Mint (Mentha x piperita f.citrata ‘Basil’)
This type is popular among gardeners since it is easy to grow and cultivate. It is hybrid in nature and has narrow leaves which produce a strong basil and mint fusion for its aroma.
It can be used medically as a cure to upset stomachs and headaches as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
In culinary, the basil mint is a main ingredient in pesto pasta and also in garnishing. If you intend to grow one, put it in a container or plant box and place it where it gets sufficient sunlight and then trim it regularly. The basil mint can be eaten or used raw and can also be stored for six months.
5. Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
This one is native to the UK and is a rare find in most places. It is called as such because of its high menthol content. As such, it is used as a medicinal herb for bruises and contusions. In the culinary field, it is used as a good seasoning for meat.
As for the scent, it is commonly mistaken for pennyroyal mint because of their strong aromatic semblance. It thrives in sandy soils. It has to be noted however, that this type of mint may be dangerous for pregnant women.
6. Catmint (Nepeta racemosa)
This type of Mint plant is considered as an ornamental herb. Gardeners love to place it in containers inside the home because they are natural remedies to ward off pests, insects and rodents.
They are also usually planted on garden bed edges. The best thing about it is that all of its parts can be used for medicinal and culinary purposes.
The best use for catmint would be for essential oils and herbal teas. They calm the nerves, relieve coughing and congestion and are used as herbs for soups and sauces. They also get their name for being cat-friendly.
7. Chocolate Mint (Mentha × piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’)
This type of Mint plant is popular among chocolate lovers. It is basically the fusion of mint and chocolate and as such, this one is used for desserts, candies, and even beverages like milkshakes.
It is also a commendable ingredient to herbal teas and pastries. As a container plant, they need lots of sunlight and moist soil to grow.
8. Corn (field) Mint/American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)
This one is also known as the American Wild Mint. Unlike other types, it is solely for medical purposes which treats common colds, congestion and cough through an herbal tea made from Corn Mint.
Planning to plant one? Make sure that it receives proper sunlight and has a compost to sandy soil.
9. Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii)
This type of mint is considered as the smallest member of the family. It is a popular bedding or border plant since it is small and low-growing. Medicinally, it is known for its high antiseptic properties said to relieve flatulence. It is also good as a flavoring for creamy food and beverages.
Like the apple mint, growing it around vegetables could enhance their growth. They are also good insect and pest repellants. When it is crushed, it has a very strong scent compared to other mint types. The only growing tip that you need for the Corsican mint is to regulate watering.
10. Cuban, or “Mojito” Mint (Mentha x villosa)
As the name suggests, this type of mint is the one used in giving off that authentic, warm and mild mojito taste that we all love. Other than that, it is also used in fruit salads and is also popular among Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
And if you just feel like drinking with some soothing aftertaste, you can also add a dash of the Cuban mint. They love warm temperatures so you have to take note of this if you feel like planting them.
11. Eau de Cologne Mint/Orange Mint/bergamot mint (Mentha piperita citrata)
This type of mint plant is popular because of its scent. This hybrid mint emits a strong, pleasant citrus flavor which makes them best for cooking and mixing beverages.
As a matter of fact, it is one of the main ingredients of Chartreuse liquor. Other than this, it is also used in preparation of jellies, salads, and sauces.
Though not used medically, it plays an important role in the perfume industry. Its strongly scented oils are extracted for perfumes. When growing this one, you have to make sure that it receives enough sunlight.
12. Egyptian Mint (Mentha niliaca)
This one is considered as the actual mint referenced in the Bible. It is often confused for the apple mint although this one has a milder flavor and aroma, resonating spearmint and peppermint.
It is mainly used as an ingredient in different dishes as well as in teas. In the cosmetic industry, it is processed for skin toning products.
If you intend for it to be your container plant, make sure that it gets enough sunlight. Note that its growth depends on its location.
13. Ginger Mint (Mentha x gracilis)
This type is commonly known as Vietnamese mint. It has the same smell as the spearmint. It is popular among Asian cuisines, especially in Vietnamese pho and other chicken and beef-based dishes. It is also used among teas, lemonades, and in spreads.
In terms of medicinal contents, the ginger mint is known for its high fiber, vitamins, and mineral content. Ginger mint thrive best in loamy soils and in locations where it receives a lot of sunlight.
14. Grapefruit Mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Grapefruit’)
The popular grapefruit and this type of mint plant is similar in taste. It is commonly used in cooking and provides a perfect seasoning to seafood and lamb. It is also used for chicken dishes, fruit salads, or as alternatives to recipes needing a dash of citrus flavor.
As for everyday use, it can be added to water to aid full rejuvenation especially after workouts. It thrives best in locations where it gets ample sunlight.
15. Hart’s Pennyroyal (Mentha cervina)
This type of mint plant is considered the most peculiar but also one of the most popular mint types out there. This mint’s leaves are added directly to soups.
It is also known for its antiseptic property, hence, processed for essential oils. It is also harvested by perfume companies around the world. This one thrives in warm environments. It requires a specific humidity to survive.
16. Hemingway Peppermint (Mentha nemorosa)
This type of mint plant is best mixed in fresh or cooked dishes because it provides an excellent aroma and pleasant taste to the dish.
It can also be used in herbal teas and other cold beverages. Hemingway peppermint is edible which sets it apart among other types.
The best feature of the Hemingway peppermint is that it grows even in neglect. Hence, if you are looking for a mint type that is very low-maintenance, you can have this one as your container plant.
17. Horsemint/Buddleia Mint (Mentha longifolia)
This type of mint is primarily used medically. Though common also in the culinary industry for its lemony flavor which can be used in dishes as well as hot or cold teas. Its lemon taste makes it perfect when cooking chicken and fish.
When growing this type of mint, know that it prefers dry soils, needs full sunlight and requires regular trimming.
18. Lavender Mint (Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’)
This type is one of the most beautiful types of mint plants. Basically, considered as an ornament because of its physical appearance and beautiful flowers but primarily has medicinal properties as well as culinary.
Also, it is considered as a lazy gardeners’ companion because this type of mint plant does not require a lot of attention unlike other types as long as you give what is needed. Best used in teas, shampoos, creams, lip balms and other beauty products while it is also used to enhance the taste of soups, pasta, and salads.
Planning to get one? Make sure that it has proper soil drainage, receives full to partial sunlight, and is better grown in a container.
19. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Just as the name suggests, lemon balms are best used for making lemon drinks thanks to its citrus-like scent likened to lemongrass with a dash of mint.
It is also used medically in treating mental disorders and other medicinal purposes like in sedatives because of its known calming effect. When having this type, there is a need for proper air circulation and occasional watering.
20. Licorice Mint (Agastache rupestris)
This type of mint plant is considered to be the tallest amongst all mint types. Its leaves have a slightly sweet flavor that tastes like an actual licorice.
Licorice mint is primarily used to make ice cream and pairs well with fresh fruits. It is also typically used in cooking lean meats such as chicken. When growing this plant, note that it requires lots of sun and fertile soil.
21. Margarita Mint (Mentha ‘Margarita’)
This type of mint plant can be the best alternative if you do not like the strong scent and taste of the mojito mint.
It smells like lime which perfectly catches the authentic taste of margarita. It can also be used for garnishing and in soups. If planted as a container plant, it requires humus-rich and well-draining soils.
22. Pennyroyal Mint (Mentha pulegium)
This type of mint plant is known historically for its perfect mixture with oregano and coriander when used in food. But now, its popularity has transferred to medicine as it is widely known to aid skin conditions and toothaches as well as gastrointestinal problems including constipation and hemorrhoids.
When growing this type of plant, make sure to put it in locations where it can receive enough sunlight and put in a moist, loamy and slightly acidic soil.
23. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
This type is another popular mint plant which has a strong taste yet sweet aroma. It is used as an ingredient to candies, desserts, and teas. It can also be added to sweet or savory dishes. Though, a bit too strong to eat, it is still useful when it is processed as peppermint oil.
It is recommended as one of the most potent natural insect and rodent repellents that you should have. Perhaps, the only thing to remember when growing peppermint is that it needs a moist soil and shady area to grow beautifully.
24. Pineapple Mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’)
This one is another fruit-mint variety associated with the apple mint. While known as an ornamental mint, its sweet and citrusy scent also makes it a popular culinary ingredient as well as used for medicinal purposes.
Medically, it is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to be beneficial in easing gastrointestinal problems, acid reflux, and arthritis. Its leaves are often crushed and added to jellies, teas, and fruit salads. Growing this one in fertile soils is recommended.
25. Red Raripila mint (Mentha rubra raripila)
This one is an ultra-hybrid because it is the fusion of corn mint, spearmint, and water mint.
When it comes to flavor, it is most akin to spearmint and as such, is used in garnishing and in making beverages particularly lemonade and teas. It is also an ingredient for candies as well as ice creams.
As a container plant, note that it grows well in full and partial sunlight.
26. Slender Mint (Mentha diemenica)
This type is considered as one of the smaller types of mint plant. It is said to be different from all other mint types because of its physical appearance.
They are rhizomatous, which means that it is also beneficial as ground cover. It is best used as a garnish to any cold summer drinks.
When growing this mint type, make sure that it receives unfiltered sunlight several hours everyday. You also have to know that it has chemical compounds that may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
27. Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
This type is the second most common mint next to peppermint. Fun fact, almost all the minty products in the grocery are made from spearmint.
Sometimes called common mint, it is considered number one when it comes to culinary purposes. As such, it is also ascribed as lamb mint in some cultures as it is best used for lamb and potato dishes.
Medicinally, it is said to contain essential vitamins and lots of antioxidants. Spearmint is also a popular ingredient in making toothpaste, mouthwashes, confections, shampoos, soaps and cosmetics. When growing spearmints, know that it grows best in containers and in a moist soil with full to part sunlight.
28. Strawberry Mint (Mentha spicata subsp. citrata ‘Strawberry’)
This one is more of an ornamental mint, hung in walls because of their fruity fragrance. As the name suggests, they emit a combination of strawberry and mint scent. As such, chopped leaves of this mint type are often added to desserts and salads or in iced teas.
Its flowers are also known to be edible. Medically, it can help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inhibit the growth of some types of bacteria, relieve sore throat, freshen breath and help ease headaches. It is also said to be beneficial in treating insect stings.
29. Watermint (Mentha aquatic)
This one gets its name for its habitat which would be near waters, rivers, and other waterways. It is primarily a medicinal mint used for warding off bacteria in wounds.
It is also known for its soothing effect, hence, processed into essential oils to relieve sore muscles.
In other industries, watermint is also a key ingredient for mouthwash, body wash, and even lotions. When growing watermints, make sure that enough humidity and moisture is present for them to grow beautifully.
Frequently Asked Questions About Types Of Mints
Aside from the types of mints, there is also other information about this very functional and ornamental herb that we should know about. Here are some essential FAQs about the different types of mint plants.
How many types of mint are there?
Surprisingly, there are more than 600 recognized types of mints around the world. This includes hybrid cultivars. They are categorized in terms of their use and intensity of scent.
Most mint plants are similar in terms of appearance and smell but there are some with notable characteristics. The type of mint plants covered here are considered as the most common.
Is all mint edible?
No. Some mint types are just growing as shrubs or trees. Some hybrids are just for ornamental purposes too. The best way to know if a mint is edible would be their strong aroma. It is said that the stronger the mint scent, the more edible it is.
What is the best tasting mint plant?
Peppermint is still considered as the best tasting mint plant. This perhaps explains why it is the most popular mint type out there. Its subtle taste and strong aroma match almost all types of dishes from savory to desserts. They are also perfect for beverages, for their medicinal properties especially in terms of hygiene, and a lot more.
Which mint plant has the strongest smell?
For this question, we cannot generalize and hail just one, although peppermint is also considered as the strongest smelling mint plant. Other contenders for this category would be the following mint plants:
- Apple mint
- Swiss mint
- Eau de Cologne
- Buddleia mint
What is the sweetest mint?
Spearmint is considered as the sweetest mint. It has a strong minty taste but also a sweet fragrance which makes it one of the best culinary mints out there and a popular essential oil. And because of its inherent sweetness and refreshing smell and taste, it is also a favorite garnishing for popular drinks and cocktails.
Mint plants have been around in ages and the fact that they are still popular around the world even now goes to show how beneficial they are for a lot of things. Not only are they perfect herbs in the culinary and beverage world but they are also very notable for their medicinal properties.
As an ornamental herb, it is also very uncomplicated to grow. They are low maintenance and do not need a lot of attention. As such, they are perfect container plants as well as border shrubs and trees.