Ginger mint is a cross between spearmint and corn mint. It is hardy to USDA zones 5-9. It can grow in sandy, loamy, or heavy clay soils that should be kept moist and should have a pH level between 5.5-7.5. Ginger mint grows best in full sunlight or in a partially shaded area with well-drained soil. It is a shrub that can grow up to 1.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Its roots spread aggressively, so it should be placed in a container before it is planted in the ground. Ginger mint is a good companion plant for cabbages and tomatoes since it acts as an insect repellant. The seeds should be planted in the spring. Once the seeds have germinated, they can be transplanted into individual pots and then planted outside in the summer. Ginger mint can also be propagated by division in spring or autumn. A 3-inch cutting of an established plant should be placed in a pot to grow in full sunlight. Once it has established itself, it can be placed outside in the summer (1). Ginger mint should be mulched with compost, bark, or wood chips to help retain moisture and prevent the growth of weeds. The plant should be given bone meal twice a year to increase the nutrient content of the soil and promote growth. In order to harvest ginger mint, the top leaves should be snipped first to promote growth from the base of the plant. The plant should be pruned by removing old stems throughout the growing season, which encourages newer shoots to grow. At the end of the growing season, when the leaves are turning yellow or brown, the plant should be cut down to the ground. Doing so will help the plant survive the winter and allow it to grow back next year (2).
Ginger mint leaves are best when used fresh. They should be snipped when it is dry outside and before the hottest part of the day. The leaves can also be dried and used later on during the winter seasons. In order to dry the leaves, they should be hung in bunches in a dry, dark, and warm area. The leaves can be added to fruit salads and pair very well with melons or tomatoes. They can also be used to brew herbal teas, which can treat fevers, headaches, and digestive ailments (1). Finely chopped leaves make a great addition to butter spreads, lemonade, and hot chocolate. Ginger mint can be mixed with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to flavor fish and other meat dishes (2). The essential oil from ginger mint is used as a spearmint flavoring. Furthermore, the oil has medicinal value because of its antiseptic properties. However, it can have unhealthy effects on the body if it is ingested in large doses, especially for pregnant women.
Significance to Cultural Communities
Ginger mint is native to Asia and Europe. Since the smell of ginger mint wards off rats and mice, it is placed in granaries to keep pests away from the grain (1). It is a popular mint in Vietnamese dishes such as chicken or beef pho (3). Ginger mint is a main ingredient in Scotch Mint candies from England (4). In North America, the oil from ginger mint is used as a flavor additive in the production of chewing gum.
- Sole. "Mentha X Gracilis." Plants for a Future. Plants for a Future, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha%2Bx%2Bgracilis>.
- "Ginger Mint: Mentha X Gentilis (Variegata) Hardy Perennial." Garden Mints. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://gardenmints.com/Product.asp?ProductRef=822>.
- "Vietnamese Mint." Richters Product Listing. Otto Richter and Sons Limited, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <https://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X4053&show=&prod&source=799158.29456>.
- "Scotch Mint." Folia. Nic & Nath, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://myfolia.com/plants/6667-scotch-mint-mentha-x-gracilis>.
- "Scotch Spearmint." Richters Product Listing. Otto Richter and Sons Limited, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <https://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X4044&show=&prod&source=799158.29456>.