Mint is an invasive perennial plant, with a great mat of roots. This makes it ideal for growing in pots, where it can be kept in check. Choose a big pot, 30 cm/12 inches across, as this is a vigorous plant. It is not worth growing mint from seed because it would take a long time to grow a decent-size plant. Plug plants are widely available and cheap, and you only need one. Just buy a pot from a garden centre or nursery – not the supermarket – when you see one for sale in the spring. You should only need to buy it once as mint is incredibly easy to propagate. Just cut short lengths of root – say, 5 cm/2 inches or so – lay them in a tray of compost (potting soil), cover thinly, keep moist and wait for the new growth to appear.
Every spring, I give the plant a good tidying, first removing any growth, then tipping it out of the pot and thinning the roots before repotting, top-dressing with organic matter and giving it a good feed with blood, fish and bone meal (see page 231). It then gets another haircut in mid-summer, the only remedy for the mildew that will inevitably afflict it at some point. Regular picking will help to avoid this by encouraging the plant to put on more growth. Water daily. Mint is a vigorous plant and will quickly run to seed if it gets stressed.
Young leaves taste the best and are perfect for mojitos. Mint is also a brilliant partner for anything involving peas or salad potatoes.
Mentha spicata, or common garden mint, is the one I grow. If you have a friend with a healthy plant, ask if you can have a bit of it in the spring. Mine came from my friend Laura Gatacre, and I am convinced it is less prone to mildew than plants I have had in the past.
This originally appeared on House & Garden UK.