Q:

What does a mint plant look like?

A:

A mint plant has long branches that grow upward and then hang downward, rooting where they touch the ground. The plant has spikes of white or pinkish flowers and rough, fuzzy, jagged leaves.

Mint spreads quickly and easily. It can be grown in a container or in the ground. It thrives in full sun or partial shade and prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. Flowers should be removed as they appear. Pinching back the stems encourages shorter, fuller growth. Mint should be cut back to the ground in the fall and divided and replanted every few years.

Harvest mint when the flowers begin to bloom. Cut the leaves and use them immediately, or freeze them to keep their bright color. Leaves may be air-dried by hanging them upside down in small bundles. Remove the leaves after they become brittle, and store them in an airtight container.

Verticillium wilt, mint rust and mint anthracnose are common diseases that affect the mint plant. It is also bothered by spider mites, flea beetles, root borers, cutworms, aphids and root weevils. Spraying the plant with a garden hose can knock insects off mint leaves, while good air circulation and well-drained soil can help prevent disease.


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