How to Grow Chocolate Mint for a Fragrant Addition to Your Garden

chocolate mint plant growing outside on some rocks

sasimoto/Getty Images

Mint is one of the easiest—and tastiest—plants you can grow. It's vigorous, hardy, and refreshing. Plus, in addition to classic peppermint and spearmint, there are a ton of different varieties with unique fragrances: apple mint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, orange mint, and, of course, chocolate mint.

Chocolate mint, with its pointy green leaves and dark brown stem, gives off a chocolatey aroma, with a slightly citrusy flavor. It's just as easy to grow as regular mint, and it's great for boosting the flavor of sweet treats. Here's how to grow chocolate mint to use in desserts, milkshakes, and hot cocoa.

  • Botanical Name: Mentha × Piperita 'Chocolate Mint'
  • Common Name: Chocolate mint
  • Plant Type: Perennial herb
  • Mature Size: Two feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Rich, moist soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.0
  • Toxicity: Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses

Plant Care

Like other mint plants, chocolate mint is quite easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of conditions. Water your plant frequently enough to keep the soil moist. You can also apply organic mulch to the soil around the plant to help keep it from drying out as quickly.

In terms of feeding, container chocolate mint plants only need a single dose of standard organic houseplant fertilizer in springtime. You can boost nutrients for plants in the ground by spread fresh compost on the soil around the plant each spring.

Harvest chocolate mint by cutting the stems of a large, mature plant or by pinching off the growing tips of a younger, smaller specimen. This will help the plant grow fuller and bushier. The flavor of chocolate mint is best before the plant blooms with small, purple flowers, so it's best to plan your harvest before the typical bloom time of midsummer to late summer.

Use chocolate mint to add refreshing flavor and chocolatey aroma to cocktails, salads, ice cream, baked goods, and drinks like coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. You can also harvest sprigs, tie the ends into bundles, and hang them to dry to have chocolate mint all year round.

Best Growing Conditions for Chocolate Mint

While chocolate mint prefers rich, moist soil, you can plant chocolate mint in most types of soil. If the soil where you want to plant isn't as rich, simply add organic matter like compost when planting.

You also have some flexibility in deciding where in your garden to plant chocolate mint, as it can grow well in partial shade to full sun—just make sure you're prepared to keep the soil moist.

Chocolate mint also does well in containers. One benefit of this is that you can bring your plant indoors in the fall, then keep it in a sunny, south-facing window over the winter. If using a container, choose a well-draining potting mix and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.

Chocolate mint and other varieties of mint tend to spread widely, so you may want to grow them in a pot. If you choose to plant them in your yard, line the hole with root barrier or sink the whole container into the ground to keep the plant from taking over your garden.

Chocolate mint plant.

Getty Images

How to Propagate Chocolate Mint

Like other mint plants, chocolate mint is quite easy to propagate by taking stem cuttings and rooting them in water. Larger plants can also be divided and replanted.

What You Need

  • Healthy mother plant
  • Clean, sharp shears or pruners
  • Glass of water

Instructions:

  1. Select a healthy, six-inch-long stem tip with several leaves. Use your shears to remove it from the mother plant.
  2. Cut away the bottom few leaves from the cutting. Place it in a glass or jar filled partway with water, ensuring that the spots where you removed the leaves are submerged.
  3. Put the cutting in a warm place with bright light. You should see roots begin to grow after a few weeks.
  4. Once the cutting has several roots that are at least an inch or two long, you can plant it in a container or in your garden.

Common Growing Problems

Chocolate mint is usually a problem-free plant, as it's so adaptable and vigorous. However, keep an eye out for orange spots on the bottom of the leaves, which indicate a fungal disease called rust. This can be treated with an organic fungicide. Preventing the leaves from getting wet may also help keep rust at bay.

Potting and Repotting

If you're growing chocolate mint in a container, you'll eventually need to repot the plant to keep it growing strong. If you'd like a bigger plant, go up one pot size. You can also divide the plant and put it back in the same pot with fresh soil, then pot up the division in another container.

Water your plant a few days before you plan to repot. Gently remove it from the container, then use your fingers to loosen the roots from the soil. Use a sterilized blade to remove any rotten roots.

Fill the new container partway full with fresh potting mix. Plant your chocolate mint plant in the new container, filling it in with more fresh mix until the soil level is the same as it was before. Pat down the soil and give the plant a good watering.

Is Chocolate Mint Toxic?

Chocolate mint and other plants in the mint family are perfectly safe for humans. However, they're toxic to dogs, cats, and horses due to their essential oils, according to the ASPCA.

Related Stories