In South Texas, mint thrives in partial-to-heavy shade. That makes it perfect as a groundcover or as an accent between stepping stones.
The mint family (Lamiaceae) contains more than 236 Genera and 7,000 species ranging from beebalm and coleus to lavender, salvia and thyme and, of course, mint. Each one offers a wide variety of uses ranging from medicines to cooking to teas to potpourris.
But, there is one use seldom thought of in San Antonio: groundcover.
Because mint in South Texas requires partial shade to heavy shade, it is perfect as a groundcover or planted between flagstone and stepping stones. Once planted in moist, well-drained soil, and initially provided light, frequent watering, mint will spread quite prolifically, sometimes too much.
You can minimize spreading by only planting mint in areas that don’t require a lot of maintenance or water and other resources. Another way to keep mint contained to one area is by planting it in pots that are partially buried in the ground.
Best time to plant is October through May. Select a dappled or early morning sun site. Remove as many weeds as possible, but do not be fastidious. Incorporate one inch of high quality compost into the soil. Plant on 24-30 inch centers. Don’t worry, the space will fill in quickly.
If you wish to plant in a container, use quality potting mix (I prefer one with shredded bark, coconut fiber, or sphagnum moss) and a small quantity of washed sand. If desired and to minimize spread, sink the container halfway into the ground.
Post Planting Care
For the first three weeks, water three times a week. After that, do not water more than twice a month. Over watering leads to rust and fungi running rampant through the beds. Remove diseased plants and prune aggressive stems to about eight to 10 inches.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a hybrid between water mint and spearmint. You may wish to try ‘Japanese mint’.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a native to Europe and Asia and has naturalized in North America and parts of Africa
Fruit Accented Varieties
‘Apple mint’ – green apple fragrance
‘Banana mint’ – low growing and less aggressive than most mints
‘Chocolate mint’ – a type of peppermint with dark green leaves
Pineapple mint’ – less aggressive than other mints
‘Corsican mint’ – extremely small variety, less than 1 inch tall, perfect in walkways between stones.