Strawberry mint: planting, care & uses

Verena
Verena
Verena
Verena

I grew up on a small, organic family farm and after a gap year spent working on an American ranch, I started studying agricultural science. Soil, organic farming practices, and plant science are what I am most drawn to. At home, when I'm not in our garden, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our harvested fruits and vegetables.

Favorite fruit: Even if a bit boring - apples
Favorite vegetables: Bell peppers, red beets, zucchini, white cabbage

Strawberry mint stands out not only because of its enjoyable taste and smell, but its small, compact growth makes it ideal for pots or small gardens too.

small strawberry mint plants
Strawberry mint is a rather small, delicate representative of the mint family [Photo: alybaba/ Shutterstock.com]

As the name suggests, the leaves of strawberry mint (Mentha species ‘Strawberry’) exude a pleasant strawberry aroma. Strawberry mint is therefore mainly used to refine desserts or to flavour cocktails, lemonades and water. Read on to find out everything you need to know about caring for and planting strawberry mint to ensure that you can enjoy your strawberry mint plants for a long time.

Strawberry mint: origin and properties

Mints (Mentha) are cross-pollinators. Since the genetic make-ups of the different mint species are compatible with each other, crossbreeding is easy to achieve. Thus, today there are many natural and cultivated mint hybrids and varieties. A relatively new representative of the mint family is strawberry mint. It is unclear how exactly it originated and which of the original mint species it can be traced back to.

a bee pollinating mint flowers
The flowers of strawberry mint are very attractive to insects [Photo: Anton Nikitinskiy/ Shutterstock.com]

Strawberry mint is a frost-hardy, herbaceous perennial. Unlike many other mints, it grows more compactly and is rather small with a height of 30 to 50cm. The leaves of strawberry mint are also relatively small, have toothed edges and are slightly wrinkled. In spring, the leaves will give off a pleasant strawberry scent when touched or rubbed between your fingers. Strawberry mint flowers from about July to August. The many pink flowers, typical of members of the Lamiaceae family, are a joy to behold, and they provide food for many insects.

Like most mint plants, strawberry mint also forms runners. This can sometimes be a nuisance in the garden when mints crowd out other plants and slowly take over entire beds. However, strawberry mint plants are much less eager to spread than, for example, peppermint (Mentha x piperita).

strawberry mint outgrowing its pot
Strawberry mint also readily spreads when left unattended [Photo: Cheng Wei/ Shutterstock.com]

Other varieties of Mentha species

The botanical term Mentha covers a very large number of mint varieties, many of which have a fruity aroma. However, the individual varieties often do not descend from the same species and can therefore differ greatly in terms of growth, leaf shape, flowering and flavour. Here are some of the mint varieties that, along with strawberry mint, are classified as Mentha species.

Mojito mint

With so many mint varieties, many people may wonder, “Which mint is best for mojitos?”. Good thing there is the mojito mint (Mentha x villosa), also called Cuban mint. The flavour of mojito mint is described as mild yet powerfully minty.

In the garden, mojito mint reaches a height of 40 to 80cm and flowers in pale purple from July to August. As with strawberry mint, mojito mint is less inclined to spread all over the garden bed.

Mojito mint is not only used in its namesake cocktail, mojito mint tea is delicious too.

mint sprigs and a mojito
Mojito mint is a key ingredient in the classic cocktail [Photo: Marian Weyo/ Shutterstock.com]

Basil Mint

Unfortunately, real basil (Ocimum basilicum) is not winter hardy in our latitudes and must be resown every year. In contrast, basil mint (Mentha species ‘Basil mint’) is hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -23 °C. This mint is more suited to the garden. It does not grow as vigorously as other mints, but it has large leaves. Basil mint leaves are not only reminiscent of basil in appearance but their taste is also basil-like, although the mint flavour remains in the foreground.

Basil mint can be used in many dishes just like real basil. It brings variety and freshness into the kitchen and makes otherwise monotonous dishes into something special. Basil mint can also be prepared as a refreshing tea.

close-up of basil mint
Basil mint leaves are quite large [Photo: Nahhana/ Shutterstock.com]

Other representatives of the Mentha species

In addition to the strawberry mint, mojito mint and basil mint varieties, there are many others with unusual appearances and flavours. For example, there is fig mint (Mentha species ‘Tomentosa’) with soft, elongated leaves and an aroma reminiscent of tropical fruit, or Thai mint (Mentha species ‘Thai Bai Saranae’), which has an intensely minty taste and is particularly good in Asian dishes. Another delightful species is lavender mint (Mentha species ‘Lavender’); although its aroma is only slightly reminiscent of lavender, it is pleasant and mildly fruity. Lavender mint is small with some runners and should be protected in winter.

soft and elongated mint leaves
The leaves of fig mint tomentosa are elongated and soft [Photo: agatchen/ Shutterstock.com]

How to grow strawberry mint

Like all mints, strawberry mint prefers a sunny to semi-shady, warm location with a soil that is loose and well-draining, but still moist and rich in nutrients. The same applies to mojito mint and basil mint.

If necessary, you can prepare your garden soil in various ways depending on the soil type. In the case of heavy, clayey soils, it is advisable to work some sand and a humus-rich compost, such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, into the soil. Working compost into the soil also improves the soil structure and water retention capacity of very sandy soils. To top it off, our compost is peat-free and made from natural raw materials, making it an environmentally friendly product too.

No matter your garden’s soil type, consider working compost into the soil to improve the soil’s nutrient content before planting strawberry mint.

Tip: strawberry mint also reproduces and spreads but much less so than peppermint. If you like, you can dare to plant strawberry mint in an herb spiral without a root barrier.

herb spiral full of herbs
In contrast to many other mints, strawberry mint can be planted in herb spirals without a root barrier [Photo: terra incognita/ Shutterstock.com]

The best time to plant strawberry mint is in spring. First, remove any weeds and enrich the bed with compost. Then, dig planting holes spaced about 35cm apart and place the strawberry mint plants in them. Fill in the holes with soil and press down lightly. Lastly, water the plants well.

The procedure for planting mojito mint is identical. However, the plant spacing should be 40cm − mojito mint grows somewhat larger and broader than strawberry mint. When planting basil mint, the plant spacing should also be 40cm.

Because of its compact growth, strawberry mint is also an ideal herb for pots and window boxes. These should have a large diameter and hold at least 5 litres. To grow strawberry mint in a pot, first put a drainage layer, such as gravel, in the bottom of the pot and then fill with a moist, nutrient-rich and humus-rich potting compost. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost is also suitable for this. After planting the strawberry mint, lightly press down the soil and water well.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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Planting strawberry mint at a glance:

  • Location: sunny to semi-shady; fresh, humus-rich and loose soil
  • Planting time: spring
  • Plant spacing: 35 cm
  • Water well after planting
strawberry mint and strawberry plants
Strawberry mint enjoys growing side by side with real strawberry plants [Photo: Flying object/ Shutterstock.com]

Strawberry mint plant care

There are two things to remember when caring for strawberry mint to ensure that it thrives in the garden and in pots.

  1. Strawberry mint does not tolerate drought. Whether in the garden or in a pot, regular watering, especially during the summer, is an important part of caring for strawberry mint plants. However, you should also avoid water logging your plants, as strawberry mint does not tolerate this either. Mulching with lawn clippings is a great way to ensure less water evaporates, as the soil stays moist longer and you will need to water less frequently.
  2. Strawberry mint is hungry for nutrients in the soil. Therefore, it should be supplied with a slow-release fertiliser, preferably organic, about twice a year. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, which is mainly organic, promotes good soil structure and healthy soil life. Alternatively, you can use mature compost. Apply the first dose of fertiliser in spring at the beginning of vegetation. Then apply fertiliser for a second time around July.
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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For harvesting and preventing overgrowth, it is good to cut back strawberry mint from time to time. Cut back some of the upright shoots to just above the ground and cut back any runners extending out too far. Strawberry mint is very tolerant of pruning, so it can be pruned all year round as needed.

After 3 years, strawberry mint plants growing in pots should be repotted. This should ideally be at least 5cm larger in diameter than the old one and filled with fresh soil. Repotting gives the plant more space and provides nutrients.

a potted strawberry mint plant
If you want to grow strawberry mint indoors, place them in a very bright spot [Photo: Gerhardus Kotze/ Shutterstock.com]

For more information and tips, see our articles on caring for mints and on harvesting and pruning mint.

Is strawberry mint hardy?

Although strawberry mint is hardy, it can only tolerate temperatures down to around -12 °C and is, therefore, more sensitive to frost than many other types of mint. Since the above-ground part of the plant dies off in winter anyway, overwintering strawberry mint involves protecting the rootstock with brushwood or straw. Despite the protection, a small part of the shoot may also freeze in winter. This is not usually a bad thing, however, because the plant will re-emerge smaller and more compact again in spring.

In contrast, mojito mint is very winter-hardy: its frost hardiness extends to around -25 °C. When overwintering mojito mint in a garden bed, there is no need for special winter protection.

When overwintering strawberry mint in a pot, it is important to prevent the pot from freezing through, as this will damage the roots. Put a jute bag over the pot to protect your potted strawberry mint in winter.

Tip: preventing contact with the icy ground by elevating your potted mints, for example on a wooden board, will further reduce the chilling effect.

Propagation

Strawberry mint can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. However, since mints are cross-pollinators, and cross-breeding with other species is common, it is likely that the strawberry taste will be lost when propagating strawberry mint by seed. In addition, the seed production of strawberry mint is rather low.

mint runners growing new shoots
Mint plants form new shoots from runners along the ground [Photo: Paul Maguire/ Shutterstock.com]

The easiest way to propagate strawberry mint is to wait until the plant has formed offshoots and these have taken root. Simply dig up these offshoots with as much root mass as possible, and plant them in a new location. Good times to do this are spring and autumn.

Check out our general article on mints to find out about other ways to propagate mints.

Strawberry mint uses

Strawberry mint is often enjoyed in cold drinks and dishes, but a tea made from dried strawberry mint can also be very refreshing. The aroma of strawberry mint leaves changes with the seasons. While it is still clearly reminiscent of strawberries in spring and at the beginning of summer, the smell turns unpleasantly bitter and harsh when it starts to flower. If you want to harvest the leaves, you should do so before the plants flower. In principle, however, harvesting is possible during the entire growing season. As with harvesting mint in general, it is easiest to cut off whole shoots and then either dry them or pluck off the individual leaves.

Although strawberry mint tastes intense freshly harvested from the plant, it has a short shelf life. You can extend the shelf life somewhat by wrapping it in a damp kitchen towel and storing it in the fridge. Strawberry mint can also be preserved by drying or freezing. You can learn how to do this in our article on drying, freezing and preserving mint.

strawberry mint leaves in lemonade
Strawberry mint is commonly used in lemonades or to flavour water [Photo: Maximov Denis/ Shutterstock.com]

As it contains significantly fewer menthol compounds than peppermint, for example, strawberry mint is limited to being used as a spice rather than as a medicinal plant.

Is strawberry mint edible?

The stem, leaf and flowers of strawberry mint are edible. The flowers usually taste somewhat sweeter because they contain nectar.

Strawberry mint is not the only fruit mint used in the kitchen. Are you familiar with lemon mint (Mentha gentilis var. citrata) or apple mint (Mentha suaveolens)?

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