By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Leaves of chocolate mint plants add versatility to drinks, desserts and garnishes for a variety of dishes you prepare in the kitchen. Growing chocolate mint, both indoors and outside, is an easy way to always have a fresh supply of the chocolate herb plant.
Chocolate mint plants (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’) are attractive, fragrant and easy to grow. As with most square-stemmed members of the mint family, growing chocolate mint can take over the area in which it is planted in the ground, readily and quickly.
When learning how to care for chocolate mint, know that it must be contained in some way to avoid rapid spread. Horror stories of the escape of uncontained chocolate mint are shared by gardeners who planted it directly in the ground, only for it to take over the bed or spread to a neighbor’s property where it then had to be removed.
Growing chocolate mint in containers is easy. Regular pinching and division keeps chocolate mint healthy, full and under control. Mature brownish red stems and attractive serrated leaves become full after pinching out the tips. Use the leaves in your dishes and drinks. Longer stems of the chocolate herb plant can be clipped for rooting more plants. Learning how to grow and harvest chocolate mint provides a regular supply of the fragrant leaves, which may be used fresh or dried for later use.
Growing chocolate mint outside in pots that can be placed in full to partial sun is easy. Once you have a cutting rooted, you likely won’t need to get another plant. Yearly division of the contents of the pot results in an abundance of plants for you to keep or share with friends and family, so that everyone has a container of the useful chocolate herb plant.
If you want to grow chocolate mint in a garden with other herbs, plant the entire container and sink it into the ground. Don’t remove the bottom of the pot. Roots of the growing chocolate mint plant may escape through drainage holes, but you can remove the container once in a while and clip off any roots that grow from drainage holes. You can also include it in a chocolate themed garden with other chocolate plants.
Learning how to care for chocolate mint is simple too. Water and fertilize occasionally and grow in full sun for maximum flavor. Harvest throughout the growing season, unless you want the plant to display its attractive pink flowers in late spring to midsummer. If so, clip after flowering. Root new cuttings in late summer to bring inside for the winter.
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Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash
Mint and chocolate? Why would you ever grow any other mint variety again? Chocolate mint is as chocolatey, minty and scrumptious as it sounds. You can bake it in cakes, add sprigs to mojitos, and even use it in your beauty recipes. But more on that later. You won’t regret picking up this herb at your local farmers market. When the sun warms its leaves, your garden will smell just like a peppermint patty. Yum! Get a plant now and enjoy chocolate mint goodness all summer long.
The aggressive nature of mint makes it an ideal herb to be planted in its own container, but will require thinning and dividing every other year or so.
A 12-inch pot is the perfect size for a single plant. Keep it well taken care of and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it grows to fill the pot. Plucking leaves from the top, especially, will encourage the plant to grow out instead of up, giving you a larger harvest.
Once every two or three years, divide the plant and transplant or discard the extras. Failing to do this will cause the plant to become rootbound, which will stunt its growth or even lead to the plant’s demise.
If you have your mint container growing near the rest of your garden, be cautions of stray stems that may grow over the edge of the plant and towards the ground. A healthy stem will easily take root and you will quickly begin to find mint in with your other plants.
Potted mint can be grown indoors as well, but you’ll find it quickly becomes too large for the average window sill.
Because of the strong smell, mint is frequently left alone by insets and other pests. In fact, growing it in a (carefully contained) barrier around other plants and vegetables can help keep insects away without adding extra pesticides to your garden.
Aphids, spider mites and whiteflies are all small insects that sometimes trouble mint, but a strong stream of plain water can wash them off every few days, or you can use an insecticidal soap spray if extra help is needed.
Chocolate mint is an easy to grow perennial that once you plant it, you will find yourself with an abundance of it. It smells just like the name suggests, like minty chocolate, and smells good enough to eat! If you grow chocolate mint or are considering it, take a look at these 7 creative uses for chocolate mint that you must try! You will find that it’s a really practical and delicious herb to grow. Here is what you need to know:
Chocolate mint is safe for food use as long as it has been grown without chemicals and is washed well. You can use it to top your cakes, cookies, and cupcakes as it offers some nice color and even adds to the aroma of the dessert.
Chocolate mint is a wonderful addition to your homemade shakes and ice cream. The oils in the plant can add a minty flavor and chocolate aroma that is heavenly. Be sure you only use mint that has been grown without chemicals and is rinsed well.
Fancy up your beverages and add flavor at the same time when you freeze chocolate mint leaves in ice cubes. They will give the cubes some color and add flavor as they melt. This is an excellent idea to try when you’re throwing a garden party or shower. You can also add it to homemade popsicles as well.
Chocolate mint is perfect for adding to your cocktails that require muddled mint. Mojitos taste even better when you add some fresh mint, and chocolate mint will get the job done and add a unique twist to the drink as well. Also, you can garnish any drink with a fresh chocolate mint sprig!
You can let chocolate mint leaves and stems soak in a bottle of almond or coconut oil to make your own mint infused oil. You can then use it as a massage oil (mint will cause slight tingles and warmness, be advised) or even add it to dessert recipes or a type of fruit salad.
You can add chocolate mint to any of your homemade body scrubs, body butters, or other homemade bath products. Just muddle the mint or dry it and add it. You will not only get the benefits of mint but it will leave a wonderful scent too.
You can use dried mint leaves in your crafting as well. Try adding it to homemade candles, lotions, potpourri and more. It will add a lovely fragrance and some fresh color as well. To dry your mint just tie it into a bundle and hang it in a cool dark place until it’s dry.
Are you ready to put chocolate mint to work for you? Give these 7 ideas a try and see how useful it really is!