Reader question… “Last year I planted a few peppermint seeds. The plants grew well but don’t smell as pepperminty as I thought they would. I was telling this to my neighbor and she says I couldn’t have planted peppermint seeds because peppermint is sterile and doesn’t produce seeds. She says I planted some other kind of mint but not peppermint. The thing is, I saved the seed packet and it IS labeled as peppermint. I remember reading in one of your posts (don’t remember which one) that you grow peppermint so I thought you might know which of us is right.” –Izza W.

In a way, you both are…

True peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a hybrid… a cross between spearmint and watermint… and true peppermint is sterile, so it does not produce seeds. Like other mints, true peppermint spreads through its underground rhizomes. New plants can also be grown easily from division or cuttings.

The seeds commonly sold as peppermint are actually a form of spearmint. I would guess that this is what you planted… and you’re right, this mint does not smell like the true peppermint.

True peppermint also looks very different from the so-called peppermint grown from seeds. The stems are smooth, square and dark with a touch of red, and the leaves are also smoother and a darker green and have reddish veins.

I actually acquired my first peppermint plant by accident. I had purchased several other herbs from a local nursery, and as I was planting these herbs in the garden, I found a tiny peppermint plant in one of the pots. I have always wondered where it came from because that particular nursery did not (and does not) sell true peppermint. I have never seen true peppermint for sale, although I am sure some nurseries must sell it. In our area, the plants that are labeled peppermint are obviously the “peppermint” that is grown from seeds.


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Comments

Dawn

I never knew this! Thanks for the good explanation…

Teresa W

This explains alot. I have planted tons of peppermint seeds and never got what I considered to be peppermint. Thanks for the explanation.

Stan

Thank you for the picture. I did not realize that true peppermint had the dark stems and reddish veins. My so called peppermint doesn’t look anything like this it doesn’t smell like peppermint either. I will be on the look out for the real thing.

Annah

I enjoy this blog so much. I’m a regular visitor and always look forward to what you write. I am envious of your calm and I’m working on that for myself. Keep up the great work.

MaryAnn C.

I came from Google around 4pm looking for instruction on prepping beans for a bean soup we were making in one of the crockpots. I only recently heard the news that dried beans were not safe to cook in a crock pot. But no instructions on how to make them safe. You had the info I needed. I saved the article to Pinterest for future reference, gave my husband the instructions and decided to explore. I have been making beans in various crockpots including baked Kidneys, my favorite, since college in the 70’s when I was too poor to buy meat. Never had a problem. My Mother made a weekly pot of beans every Saturday. She never had a problem either. Even in oven baked beans. I decided to listen up and take you,
Very seriously. This Spring we had a brush (well my husband had a brush, I had a slap stick)
with Noro Virus. A Dr at his hospital had it and was quite ill, enough to get diagnosed. Steve took sick on his day off but worked anyhow through the weekend. By Tuesday morning, I was sick but the worst was yet to come. The stuff is very contagious, striking entire cruise ships, nursing homes, Long term hospitals, places usually so clean you don’t expect illness. Steve worked a double, i had full blown illness and called 911. Steve told me about the Noro
Virus the night before. So I didn’t let anybody near me without precautions. I landed in the Hospital that last week of March for a week. For the entire month of April I was in and out of the hospital on at most clear liquids, 6 times for dehydration. The Brat diet they prescribed did not work! I kept eating cold chicken bone broth, rice, cold herbal tea, and Ice water. In mid June I finally started being able to eat carefully, but this is almost Sept.(8/27) I still can’t eat anything I want. No dairy, very little fat, steamed veggies, potatoes, meat everything unsalted, because my BP med is backed way down. I can drink Soymilk, so beans are worth trying. Fruit and Salad I can eat and actually crave. That is why I decided to be cautious with the beans. Don’t need to repeat that messy horror again. To the point, it is after midnight and I am still here reading your articles. It has been an enjoyable evening. You sound like some body I would love to meet. Your photography is beautiful flowers, birds, herbs, weeds. You cook on wood, I grew up on a potato farm at 2,000 ft, Zone 3 gardening, Northern NH, heavy snows, a flurry leaving several inches, inches of partly cloudy. Constant shoveling, 5 ft of snow on Easter Sundays or more. I learned to cook early. Can handle stovetop and oven with wood, the same with gas. Living with electric in city Boston, I can handle a campfire or grill. You just can’t accept limitations. My Mother had 1-2 soups or a stew on the back of the wood range all winter. Whenever we came in from the cold, Soup was there to warm us. When banking the range for the night my Father would set up hot cereal for morning. I still do that only these days it’s in a 1.5qt. Crockpot. You mentioned long, cold winters, and your stove is Canadian made so I’m hazarding a guess you are a Canadian neighbor. I admire your commitment to living simply and close to the land. Do you home school? Just curious, we went to public school and were in 4H despite chores and such. I was wondering what Zone gardening you are, 2? You mentioned your hollyhocks don’t bloom until mid July. I want to plant some and saved that article for reference. I started getting mint plants this year. You resolved the Peppermint issue for me, I knew what I received labeled peppermint was not peppermint. I want to grow mints for teas. Also starting to grow Ginger for tea. They are so expensive, and the quality is uneven. I notice you freeze at lot. Happy to have your instructions for freezing basil. I love to freeze pesto too. You mention canning but not much. I don’t mind, just the pressure canner is so heavy, I can’t do it alone. I like raising celery and herbs for dehydrating. For some reason it is always too stringy to eat so I dry it, process it and add it to soups and stews, or broth. I can’t use salt, but celery is like a salt substitute and
Goes in everything, parsley too. I found some old cookie and cake recipes myMother used. This has been a productive and enjoyable evening and I thank you for it.