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Mentha is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae. Mint plants, also known as minchi in Sinhala is fragrant, fast-growing, green and compliments fruits, vegetables and meats. It has also its own ice cream flavour. So what’s not to love about mint? In Sri Lanka, mint is fairly easy to grow and even easier to maintain.

However, it is important to follow a certain set of procedures when growing mint. Mint is really the perfect place to begin as you build your herb garden. It’s easy to grow and is really fun to add to many recipes, whether breakfast, dinner or dessert. And don’t forget to add a sprig to a glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon.

All types of mint (including sweetmint, spearmint, peppermint and chocolate mint) are fast-growing, spreading plants, so you must give them a place to spread without anything getting in its way, or plant them in a pot. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green patches. In the right place it makes a pretty seasonal ground cover. You can also contain mint in tight places such as between pavers of a walkway where your feet will brush against the leaves to release its fragrance.

So, read on for the dos and don’ts of growing mint.

DOs

When choosing a location for mint, find one where the plant will receive morning sun and partial afternoon shade.

Plant on a patio, in a container.

When planting the herb in a flower bed, first submerge a container (either a pot, a mesh bag or edging to at least five inches deep), leaving the rim above ground level when potted, so the mint’s fast-growing root system will be contained. Otherwise, the herb will take over your garden and lawn in an annoying weed-like fashion.

Harvest mint sprigs before the plant flowers.

To extend the harvesting season, pinch off the flowering buds as they appear.

If you’re planting mint in a garden bed, apply mulch to help keep it from spreading.

Locate mint plants fifteen inches apart, and thin them regularly.

If planting your mint indoors, locate your container where it will receive good morning light but where it will also be away from drying heating elements.

DON’Ts

Plant mint in an open bed without first submerging a vessel that will contain the herb’s wild-growing roots.

If planting mint in a bed using a submerged pot, be sure it’s not cracked. The ‘runners’ will find their way out and continue to spread.

Plant the herb in super moist conditions where it won’t dry out.