Mint (Mentha spp.) is a perennial herb (a herb that grows all year round) & belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is known for its rapid growth and spreading nature, which can make it quite invasive if not managed properly. Mint plants typically feature square stems, opposite leaves, and aromatic oils that give them their distinct fragrance and flavour. There are various mint varieties, each with its own unique flavour and scent, including peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, and more.
Whilst mint is normally used fresh, most varieties of mint leaves can also be used in dried herb form, brewed as tea, or concentrated in an essential oil (Pennyroyal, however is toxic as an oil and should definitely not be consumed).
Cultivation Of Mint:
Although it can tolerate a small amount of shade, mint prefers partial to full sun. Mint should be grown in well-draining, fertile, moist, and slightly acidic soil.
Mint can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or established plants, however growing mint from seeds is often unreliable so it is unadvised. When planting, space 18-24 inches apart as they will spread. Many gardeners choose to plant mint in pots to keep it contained as it is a prolific spreader.
Mint requires regular watering, however, do not over-water as it is prone to root rot (this is why it needs well draining soil). To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, a layer of mulch should be applied around the base of your mint plant.
Mint should be regularly pruned to stop it from becoming too invasive. Pinching off the tops of the stems will also encourage your mint plant to fill out and become nice and bushy, rather than scraggly.
Note: Mint can be invasive, so it's a good idea to plant it in containers or confined areas to prevent it from spreading into unwanted areas of your garden.
Remember that mint's growth and care can vary based on the specific variety you're growing, your local climate, and growing conditions. Regular maintenance and monitoring will help you enjoy the benefits of this versatile herb.
Harvesting and Drying Mint:
- Harvesting: Harvest mint leaves in the morning, after any dew has dried but before the sun is too hot. Choose healthy leaves and avoid stems that have started to flower.
- Gather several mint stems together and secure them with a rubber band or string.
- Hang the mint bundles upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. A dark room with good airflow is ideal.
- It typically takes about 1-2 weeks for the mint leaves to dry completely. They should feel crisp and crumble easily when touched.
- Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Label the container with the date to track freshness.
- You can also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs- check with your manual to see what temperature and time will be needed to dry your mint.
Mundane Uses of Mint:
I personally love mint. It is such an uplifting herb, with so many properties that if you only have space for a few herbs in your garden, you should definitely consider growing mint! (just maybe don't put it in the ground if you don't want it to take over!). Below is just some of the mundane uses of mint.
- Salads: Mint leaves can be torn or chopped and added to green salads, fruit salads, or grain-based salads for a refreshing and aromatic twist.
- Beverages: Mint is commonly used to flavour beverages like iced tea, lemonade, mojitos, and other cocktails. It can also be infused into water for a refreshing and hydrating drink.
- Smoothies: Add a handful of fresh mint leaves to your favourite smoothie recipe for a burst of flavour and a touch of cooling sensation.
- Dips and Sauces: Mint can be blended into yogurt-based dips, such as tzatziki, or mixed into chutneys, salsas, and sauces to enhance the flavour profile.
- Desserts: Mint is often used to garnish or flavour desserts like ice cream, sorbet, chocolate dishes, and baked goods.
- Savory Dishes: Mint can be used as a garnish or flavour enhancer for various savory dishes, including curries, stews, rice dishes, and grilled meats.
- Infused Oils and Vinegars: Create flavoured oils or vinegars by infusing them with fresh mint leaves. These can be used as dressings or marinades.
- Herb Blends: Mint can be combined with other herbs to create flavourful herb blends for marinades, rubs, and seasonings.
- Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Cuisine: Mint is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes such as tabbouleh, falafel, and lamb dishes.
- Asian Cuisine: Mint is used in various Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian dishes. It adds a bright and aromatic element to soups, salads, and stir-fries.
- Grain Dishes: Add chopped mint leaves to grain-based dishes like couscous, quinoa, or rice pilaf to add a refreshing contrast to the textures.
- Garnishes: Use mint leaves as a garnish for a wide range of dishes, from appetizers to main courses. Their vibrant colour and refreshing flavour can enhance the presentation of the dish.
- Infusions and Syrups: Mint can be steeped in hot water to make mint tea or used to create mint-infused syrups for desserts and beverages.
- Cocktail Muddling: Mint is a classic ingredient for muddling in cocktails, releasing its essential oils and flavour into the drink.
Aromatic Uses Of Mint:
Mint has numerous aromatic applications and can be used fresh, dried or in it's essential oil form.
Mint is one of my personal favourite essential oils. When referring to mint essential oil, I am actually referring to Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) essential oil, which is one of the most common and easily sourced mint essential oils (at least in Australia). Other types of mint essential oils that are available include: Spearmint (Mentha spicata) & Cornmint (Mentha Arvensis). All of the mints have similar uplifting properties as peppermint, due to their mentha content, however they do differ slightly in their usage and can differ greatly in their scent profile.
Mint essential oils, derived from mint plants, are used in
When using mint aromatically, it's important to use high-quality sources of mint essential oils and to follow recommended guidelines for safe usage, especially when applying essential oils topically or using them in aromatherapy.
Some of the ways to use the aroma of mint in your mundane life include:
- Potpourri: Dried mint leaves can be included in potpourri blends to add a refreshing and fragrant element to the mix.
- Sachets: Place dried mint leaves in small sachets or fabric pouches and tuck them into drawers, closets, or under pillows to infuse the surrounding area with a pleasant aroma.
- Candles: Candles scented with mint essential oils are popular for creating a soothing and aromatic ambiance in homes.
- Room Sprays: Mint-infused room sprays or homemade air fresheners can be used to instantly refresh and scent living spaces.
- Bath and Body Products: Dried mint and mint essential oil is a common ingredient in bath salts, shower gels, soaps, and lotions, offering a refreshing and rejuvenating experience.
- Linen Spray: Mist bed linens, towels, or curtains with a diluted mint essential oil spray to add a pleasant aroma and a touch of relaxation (being careful as certain essential oils can stain if you use too much).
- Incense: Mint-scented incense sticks or cones can be burned to release its aromatic properties and create a calming atmosphere.
- Herbal Steam: Add fresh mint leaves or mint essential oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to clear the sinuses and enjoy the refreshing scent.
- Fresh Bouquets: Mint stems with leaves can be included in floral arrangements to add a unique fragrance and enhance the overall scent of the bouquet.
- Car Fresheners: Place a small sachet of dried mint leaves or a drop of mint essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in your car for a naturally scented interior.
- Pillow Mist: Spritz a diluted mint essential oil spray on your pillow before bedtime to promote relaxation and a sense of calm.
- Homemade Cleaners: Mint-infused cleaning solutions can leave your home smelling fresh and clean after tidying up.
- Personal Fragrance: Mint-infused perfumes or colognes offer a unique and refreshing scent option.
When using mint aromatically, it's important to use high-quality sources of mint essential oils and to follow recommended guidelines for safe usage. As a general rule of thumb, never apply the essential oils directly to the skin or take them internally. If you apply the oils diluted to the skin, always do a skin patch test first to check for any allergic reactions.
Medicinal Uses Of Mint:
- Headache Relief: The cooling and calming effects of mint, especially when applied topically or inhaled, may help reduce headache intensity and provide relief. Fresh mint leaves, or mint oil can be rubbed against the head to relieve headaches.
- Digestive Health: Mint is well-known for its ability to aid digestion. It can help alleviate indigestion, bloating, and gas by relaxing the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and promoting the flow of bile.
- Soothing Nausea: Mint, particularly peppermint, has been used to ease nausea and vomiting, making it a useful remedy for motion sickness and morning sickness.
- Respiratory Relief: Menthol, a compound found in mint, can help open up airways and relieve congestion, making it effective for managing respiratory conditions like colds, coughs, and sinusitis.
- Stress and Anxiety Reduction: The aroma of mint has been shown to have calming and relaxing effects, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Oral Health: Mint's antimicrobial properties can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, promoting fresh breath and contributing to oral hygiene.
- Skin Care: Mint is often used in skincare products due to its soothing and cooling properties. It may help relieve skin irritation, itching, and inflammation.
- Weight Management: The aroma of mint has been suggested to help reduce appetite and cravings, potentially aiding in weight management efforts.
- Muscle Relaxation: Mint's natural muscle-relaxant properties can help alleviate muscle cramps, soreness, and tension when applied topically or consumed.
- Cognitive Function: The aroma of mint has been linked to improved cognitive function, including enhanced alertness, focus, and memory.
- Menstrual Pain Relief: Mint tea may help relax uterine muscles and provide relief from menstrual cramps.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Mint's anti-inflammatory compounds may contribute to reducing inflammation in the body, potentially benefiting various health conditions.
- Digestive Enzyme Stimulation: Mint may stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which can aid in the breakdown of food and improve nutrient absorption.
Caution: It's important to remember that while these potential benefits are supported by some research and traditional use, individual responses can vary. If you have specific health concerns or are taking medications, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. This blog post is not intended to be used as a medical reference guide, and the author is not a qualified medical practitioner.
The Magickal Properties Of Mint:
Folk Names: Garden Mint
Deities: Pluto, Hecate
Powers: Lust, Healing, Travel, Exorcism, Purification, Protection, Fertility, Joy, Success, Prosperity & Money.
- Mint is used in travel spells.
- It can promote lust.
- Stuffing a green poppet with mint and anointing it with healing oils is said to be able to alleviate stomach problems.
- Placing fresh mint leaves in your purse or wallet is said to attract money.
- A bundle of mint, marjoram and rosemary can be used to sprinkle salt water around an area to rid it of evil.
- Fresh mint can be placed on the altar to call forth good spirits to aid you in your magick.
- Mint should be kept in the home for protection.
- Use mint oil in prosperity spells & to increase business success.
- Mint oil can be used to anoint ones wallet for increased wealth
The magickal benefits attributed to this herb are not set in stone. These magickal benefits are from a Eurocentric viewpoint, as is my personal background and what I am familiar with.
As always, it is important prior to working with any ingredient that you do your own research. Consult sources from your own ancestral background and draw inspiration from your own intuition. What is right for me in my situation, may be completely wrong for you. If you stick to the general guidelines and look for ways to incorporate mint into your everyday mundane life, you will start to see the magick that this plant can offer!
Let us know what you think about this fantastic plant. Do you grow it? If so, what has been your experience with it? Do you use it for mundane purposes, magickal purposes, or both? We'd love to hear your experiences.
The information contained within this article has been sourced from a number of sources including:
Cunningham, S. (2022). Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs- Expanded & Revised Edition (2nd ed., p. 174). Llewellyn Publications.
Hiscock, A. M. (2021). The Green Witch's Garden (p. 125). Adams Media.
Cunningham, S. (2021). Magical Herbalism- The Secret Craft of The Wise (3rd ed., p. 112). Llewellyn Publications.
Mentha. (2023, August 13). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha