Types Of Mint Plants: How To Grow And Use Popular Mint Varieties

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Mint plants have a variety of uses, including adding the leaves to your food, beverages, and body products. Discover the most common types of mint plants, how to grow them, and how to use them!

Mint is famous for its exceptionally vigorous growing nature. When you know how to grow mint in ways that take advantage of its natural tendency, you can have an abundance of this fresh, aromatic, and flavorful herb always on hand to use in your favourite teas, desserts, essential oils, and DIY body products. It makes a great addition to any herb garden, or it can be used as a wonderfully fragrant ground cover.

Whether you want to grow your mint indoors or outside, here are some of the most popular types of mint and how to care for and use each variety.

  • Learn More: For more information about mint plants, check out our guide to harvesting mint to maximize flavor and plant health!

Freshly harvested peppermint sprigs on a garden table.

9 Deliciously Easy Types Of Mint To Grow

There are several sub-varieties and hybrid mint varieties, so this guide is sticking with the popular types of mint plants. 


This very aromatic perennial herb is native to Asia and Europe but now grows in Africa, North America, and South America.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha spicata
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Any soil that is kept moist
  • Water: Maintain moist soil

How To Identify Spearmint

All types of mints are easy to identify by their square-shaped stems, and spearmint is no exception. The name comes from the oval-shaped leaves that have a spear-shaped pointy tip. Pink, purple or white flowers appear on upright spikes. 

How To Grow Spearmint

Unlike some mint varieties, spearmint can tolerate a wide range of soils including clay and sandy soils. It just needs to be very moist. Even moist enough to be considered boggy, which is wetter than most plants can tolerate. 

Ways To Use Spearmint 

Fresh, dried, or frozen spearmint is widely used for culinary, medicinal, and beauty purposes. You can use spearmint in herbal teas and other drinks, sauces, ice cream, shampoos, and toothpastes. The spearmint oil has been shown to help with fever and digestion.

Closeup of a spearmint plant to show how it's spear shaped leaves can be used to differentiate it from other types of mint.

Water Mint

This mint variety is native to Europe and some parts of Asia and Africa. It gets its name from the fact that it naturally thrives in very wet conditions and grows best in shallow waters such as marshes or streams. Further, it’s a natural pest repellent, deterring insects, flies, and some rodents with its aroma.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha aquatica
  • Hardiness Zone: 8-11
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Average, acidic
  • Water: Maintain moist to wet soil

How To Identify Water Mint

Water mint has red, square stems with dark green oval-shaped leaves which tend to be a little shinier than other types of mint. It blooms in summer, showing off tiny pink, purple, and blue blooms.

How To Grow Water Mint

Its ideal growing conditions consist of full sun and boggy soil and water mint is sometimes used as an ornamental plant around ponds. It can tolerate part shade better than many other mint varieties. 

Ways To Use Water Mint

The refreshing flavor of this type of mint is a welcome addition to many cold drinks and teas as well as other recipes. Plus, its oils have antibacterial properties and are helpful for cleaning out cuts and relieving sore muscles.

A water mint plant growing in a garden, showing how the red stems set it apart from other types of mint.


Peppermint was originally grown in England as a hybrid between spearmint and water mint, but it has become one of the most popular types of mint plants.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x piperita
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-11
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Well-draining
  • Water: Maintain moist soil

How To Identify Peppermint

Peppermint is easy to distinguish from other mint varieties. Its foliage is medium gray-green, and its oval leaves have finely serrated edges.

How To Grow Peppermint

Like most mint plants, peppermint is very easy to grow and will flourish in many environments. The key is to keep it from drying out because it won’t tolerate dry conditions.

Ways To Use Peppermint 

Of all the types of mints, peppermint is a well-known flavor of toothpaste and chewing gum. It’s commonly used in salads and sauces and to add a cool, fresh flavor to cocktails. Its medicinal uses include helping with blood pressure, digestion, and as a decongestant for cold symptoms.

A closeup of peppermint sprig on a wooden table, showing a detailed view of these types of mint.

Field Mint

Also known as corn mint or wild mint, this perennial mint variety is native to temperate regions in Europe, Asia, and North America. In fact, it’s one of the few varieties native to North America and has a high menthol content.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha arvensis
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Average soils
  • Water: Maintain moist to wet soil

How To Identify Field Mint

Compared to other types of mints, field mint has smaller, oval-shaped bright green leaves with serrated edges and coarse hairs that are arranged opposite each other on square stems. It produces tiny pink, purple, or blue flowers in the summer.

How To Grow Field Mint

As far as growing mint goes, field mint is more finicky. Field mint loves full sun and very wet, soggy soil. It will not grow well in sandy soil that drains quickly or in shady areas.

Ways To Use Field Mint

This mint variety is commonly used in teas to relieve cold and flu symptoms as well as soups, salads, and drinks. What’s more, menthol can be extracted to use in chewing gum, mouthwash, cough syrups, and drink products.

A closeup of field mint growing in the wild.

Apple Mint

Apple mint is a perennial herb native to temperate areas of Europe and has been naturalized in North America.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha suaveolens
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Well-draining
  • Water: Maintain moist soil

How To Identify Apple Mint

Apple mint has medium green, oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges. The leaves are covered in downy hairs, which lend themselves to the nickname “wooly mint.” In the summer, it produces tall spikes of tiny white or pink blooms.

How To Grow Apple Mint

This mint variety thrives in sunny, soggy conditions. It doesn’t like shady, dry, or cold conditions and can spread quickly in its ideal conditions, so keep it contained or use it as a beautiful edging plant. 

It can also act as a companion plant for tomatoes and broccoli, lending a delicious flavor to both.

Ways To Use Apple Mint

The sweet fruity mint flavor of this type of mint is perfect for making mint water or adding to teas. It also works very well in jams, smoothies, or desserts.

Apple mint growing outdoors, showing the fuzzy leaves that can be used to identify these types of mint.

Basil Mint

This perennial mint is a cool-weather crop and is great to use when it gets too cool to grow fresh basil.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x piperita f.citrata
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full sun 
  • Soil: Dry, well-draining soil
  • Water: Water regularly

How To Identify Basil Mint

This variety of mint has heart-shaped leaves and a slight basil aroma. In the summer, it has white blooms.

How To Grow Basil Mint

Grow basil mint in nearly any climate and soil. This hardy plant can withstand both heat and frosts.

Ways To Use Basil Mint

This herb tastes delicious in teas, salads, fruit salads, pestos, and other recipes (such as tomato dishes). Try using basil mint anywhere that you would use basil. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve headaches, upset stomachs, and heartburn.

Closeup of a basil mint sprig on a wooden table, showing a detailed view of these types of mint.

Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint is a close relative of peppermint and gets its name from its slightly chocolate aroma.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha × piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Rich, moist soil
  • Water: Water regularly

How To Identify Chocolate Mint

This mint variety has rounded, dark green leaves. In the summer, it produces lavender-coloured flowers.

How To Grow Chocolate Mint

Chocolate mint prefers moist soil, but it should be well-draining and not boggy. It will grow well in dry, sandy soils if watered often and can tolerate all climates.

Ways To Use Chocolate Mint

Although it may smell like chocolate, this type of mint has a flavor more similar to orange. It’s most often used as a culinary herb and tastes amazing in fruit dishes, teas, desserts, and adult drinks. 

Chocolate mint growing in a rocky garden.

Lavender Mint

This highly flavorful culinary herb is perennial in its hardiness zone and frequently grown as an annual in colder zones. It can be used on its own but tastes amazing when combined with another type of mint such as peppermint.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-11
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Water: Keep moist but not boggy

How To Identify Lavender Mint

This variety of mint has purple-red square stems and spear-shaped gray-green leaves that grow in opposing pairs with purple margins and dark veins. In the summer, the plant produces small lavender blooms.

How To Grow Lavender Mint

Unlike most types of mint plants, lavender mint grows best in cooler, temperate environments and is not drought tolerant. 

Ways To Use Lavender Mint

Due to its intense aroma, a little goes a long way when you use lavender mint in your recipes. It makes delicious teas and other beverages. Use it in green or fruit salads, poultry dishes, with vegetables, in ice creams, and other desserts. 

Lavender mint is a gem in satchels, potpourris, soaps, shampoos, and creams. It attracts bees and makes lovely wreaths and bouquets.

Lavender mint growing outdoors.

Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint is a variant of apple mint. This perennial herb is native to the Mediterranean area of Europe and has a delicious minty citrus flavor.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha suaveolens
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Light: Full to partial sun
  • Soil: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Water: Keep moist but not boggy

How To Identify Pineapple Mint

Unlike most mint varieties, pineapple mint has variegated, elongated leaves that are bright green with white borders. The leaves have a coarse texture with delicate hairs, making them mildly fuzzy.

How To Grow Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint is one of the easiest varieties to grow. It needs regular watering at first. Then once it’s established, really the only thing you need to do is water it occasionally during very dry spells.

Ways To Use Pineapple Mint

This plant is most often used as a culinary herb to infuse a delicious flavor into jellies, teas, and fruit salads.

A closeup of a pineapple mint branch on a white background, showing the white bordered leaves unique to these types of mint.

Mojito Mint

Mojito mint is best known for its use in, you guessed it, mojitos. Native to Cuba, these plants have been largely unavailable in North America until as recently as 2006. Mojito mint has a milder flavour, similar to spearmint, with less cooling sensation.

  • Scientific Name: Mentha x villosa
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Well draining, semi fertile soil
  • Water: Moist, but not boggy

How to Identify Mojito Mint

Like most types of mint plants, Mojito mint leaves are oval, with serrated edges. Its flavour is mild and warm, contrasting the strong cooling flavor of many other mints.

How to Grow Mojito Mint

Mojito mint, like its cousins, can be considered an invasive plant, which means it is very easy to grow! It enjoys moist soil, but avoid standing water. One of the biggest challenges is to keep trimming this plant back so that it doesn’t take over the rest of your garden.

Ways to Use Mojito Mint

The best way to use mojito mint is in mojitos, of course! If you have any left over, though, it can be used similarly to spearmint, in sauces and teas. Crush up a few leaves as a wonderful addition to iced tea, or sprinkle onto a bowl of fresh fruit.

Which types of mint plants will you grow?

Growing mint plants from seeds is usually a very difficult process. You’ll often have much greater luck by propagating new mint plants from cuttings.

I hope you’ll try growing one of these types of mints in your garden this year. Peppermint, Water mint, Lavender mint…they’re all delicious. There’s just nothing like using freshly harvested mint leaves in your food and drinks!

What is the sweetest type of mint?

Spearmint. Spearmint has the least amount of menthol, lending it a mellow flavor without too much cooling sensation.

Which mint has the strongest flavor?

Peppermint. Peppermint has the most menthol, giving it the strongest flavor, with an intense cooling sensation.

What is the best type of mint for mojitos?

Mojito mint is unsurprisingly the best mint for mojitos. If none is available, spearmint is the next best choice. Avoid peppermint entirely, as its flavor is too strong, and it has an intense cooling sensation that will not go well in a beverage.

Is Mojito mint the same as Spearmint?

No. Spearmint and Mojito mint are both mild, but Mojito mint has a more warm flavor than cool, which makes it best in the beverage that shares its name. Mohito mint is a unique species that was only recently spread from its native Cuba into the rest of North America.

What is the difference between peppermint and spearmint?

Peppermint has a very strong flavour, with an intense cooling sensation, while spearmint is much milder. This makes spearmint the preferred mint for most recipes, as peppermint can be too overpowering.

Editorial Note: this post was originally published May 19, 2021, and updated on February 3, 2022.

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