Mint-Orange

  • Plant Type: Perennial, zones 4 to 11
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 12 to 24 inches tall and wide
  • Culinary Use: Fresh or dried leaves for garnish, beverages, jellies, sauces, desserts

Orange mint goes by a variety of names, including lemon mint, bergamot mint, and eau de cologne mint. The flavor echoes candied orange peel, blending a sweet citrus taste with lavender tones. Leaves make a tasty mint sauce for lamb or fish and also enhance salads, fruit desserts, or vinegars. Orange mint releases its flavor with simple bruising. Toss bruised leaves into ice water for a refreshing summer drink or add to iced tea. Orange mint is also a favorite for scenting perfumes and soaps.

Mints are notoriously easy to grow, and orange mint is no exception. Plant in spring or fall, up until 2 to 3 weeks before first frost in cold climates. Orange mint tolerates light frost, but dies to the ground in winter in all but coastal climates. Fresh shoots appear in spring. Like most mints, orange mint grows rampantly, spreading by above- and underground stems. Contain the patch by planting in confined spaces or containers. Dig or pull wayward stems.

Plant Spacing: 12 to 18 inches. Plants Per Person: 1 to 2.

Secrets to Success »

Tuck plants into moist, fertile soil in part shade to full sun. Mints thrive in moist soil, but will grow in drier situations, although the patch may remain sparse. In early spring, fertilize plants with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. This organically based fertilizer is low in salt and won’t cause ugly brown leaf tips. Cut plants frequently to keep mint looking its best.

In coldest regions, mulch fall-planted mint after the ground freezes. If you grow mint in containers in areas with hard winters, place pots in an unheated garage or crawl space for winter. Or, pop plants out of pots and tuck into soil for overwintering. Repot in spring.

Harvest and Use »

Pick leaves frequently to ensure a steady supply of flavorful, tender new growth. The best time to harvest mint is midday, when essential oil concentrations are highest. Pick individual leaves or snip stems for a larger harvest.

Orange mint flowers in late summer. As flowers form, flavor becomes bitter. Remove flower buds frequently to preserve flavor. If plants do bloom and you want to make a large harvest, cut plants back by up to two-thirds, removing all flowering stems. Harvest from new shoots that appear.

Use fresh mint leaves whole as a garnish, or chop to flavor salads, sauces, desserts, or vegetable dishes. To preserve mint, dry whole leaves and store in sealed containers in a dark place. To release flavor, break leaves just before using. You can also freeze mint, whole or chopped, in ice cube trays. Whole leaves frozen in ice cubes make everyday beverages feel like party fare.

Try these garden companions »

  • Pineapple sage and lemon thyme for whipping up fruit-flavored desserts.
  • Parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, and onion chives for a traditional herb garden.
  • Bee balm for making a soothing tea or flavored honey.
  • Cantaloupe, honeydew melons, and strawberries for fresh fruit salads.

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