How to Prevent Mint From Spreading and Taking Over

Peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint (lemon balm), chocolate mint, horse mint, catmint and similar kinds of mint are easy to grow and are very good aromatic additions to the garden or flowerbeds. They do have a drawback, however. Mints tend to be invasive. If steps aren’t taken to prevent it from happening, mint can take over the flowerbed orĀ garden. These plants can be grown in pots, however there is also a way to keep it from spreading out and taking over when it is planted outside. Perhaps no mint is better known for its propensity to spread than peppermint. However, all members of the mint family will spread if the conditions are right. Some species, such as sage, thyme, basil and anise sage spread primarily by seeding themselves. To keep these from spreading, simply remove the blossoms before the seeds have a chance to form. Peppermint, spearmint, lemon mint, catmint and others spread primarily in a different way, however. We’ll use peppermint as a representative example. Mint rhizomes As a peppermint plant grows, it begins to put out underground rhizomes. These roots are usually one to three inches deep and run generally parallel to the surface. They can also grow over two feet in length. From the rhizome, new plants can emerge periodically and once they break the surface, they become self-sufficient plants, which can in turn produce more rhizomes. Many people with lawns are aware of this principle because this is exactly how crab-grass spreads. The rhizomes are actually a Continue Reading →

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Growing and Using Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), also known as Common Balm, Lemon Mint or Sweet Balm, is an easy to grow perennial herb that has enough uses to make it valuable to grow in herb gardening or even in flower beds. The herb grows best in rich well-drained garden soil, but it will grow almost anywhere; in poor or dry soil, in full sunlight, in shaded areas, and in those that are somewhere between the extremes. It will even do well in a pot or container garden. It is also hardy and will overwinter in areas that get down to 0 degrees F. without extra mulching or additional care. In fact, I just went out and got some, though it has been over a week since our temperatures have been above freezing. The leaves were dried, but they still taste good. Our winters get down to -30 F or below every year, yet with a few inches of leaves over the top of them, they will come back up next spring. Unlike many other members of the mint family, balm isn’t a fast spreading plant, though it reseeds itself readily if allowed to bolt or go to seed. It has a square stem that rarely reaches over 2 feet in height, and soft rounded, barely toothed leaves that have a lemony aroma when bruised, as well as a distinctive lemon flavor. The flowers are usually whitish to pale yellow in color. The roots are shallow and fibrous, and the plant transplants well. Continue Reading →

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