Mint always tastes wrong?

emcd124(5)October 16, 2011

Problem: My home grown mint never tastes anything like the beautiful mint I buy at the grocery store. Too strong, too sharp, more like nasty cheap toothpaste. What am I doing wrong?

I've tried growing three different times now, from three different starter plants from reputable nurseries. twice in zone 7 and now once in zone 5. I have tried both plants labelled as peppermint and spearmint.

I hear over and over again that mint is so easy to grow it is practically a weed, that you have to take care that it doesnt over run your garden by planting it in a sunken pot etc etc. So I have only grown it in pots in potting soil.

So far all I can think to explain it is:

1. The grocery is a different cultivar of mint, not usually available in nurseries

2. The taste of mint improves in poor quality soil, and store-bought potting soil has too many nutrients

3 Something else?....

Any insight or suggestions you all have would be greatly appreciated.

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nygardener(z6 New York)

The nice mint you buy at the grocery store is spearmint. Mints sold by nurseries are usually spearment, but they can be peppermint, pennyroyal, or numerous other oddball mint varieties.

It does best in full sun (at least 8 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight daily) and in well-drained soil that doesn't have too much nitrogen fertilizer. If you're using cheap hardware-store potting soil like Hyponex, try getting a decent one like Ocean Forest.

Mint fills a pot pretty quickly, so if it comes in a 3" or 4" pot, let it put out a few stems and then move it to a larger pot. If it's rootbound, tease out the outer roots before repotting.

Water thoroughly when the top 1/2" of soil is bone-dry. Don't let it dry out or remain constantly moist.

Peat-based potting soils sometimes need to be rehydrated by immersing the pot up to about 1" below the soil surface in lukewarm water for 30 minutes or so. If the pot feels light, needs frequent watering, or is dry below the surface after a thorough watering, it needs this treatment.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 10:59AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

How much sun, how much water, the minerals in the soil, the minerals that aren't in the soil, and so many other things are turned into that mint growing in your garden. Each one of those things contributes to the unique character the plant growing in your garden has as opposed to the mint in your neighbor's garden down the street - which probably tastes different.

Try different soil. Try a different location in your yard. Try a different amount of water. Try starting with a plant you like the smell/taste of to begin with.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 2:14PM
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