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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Spearmint, peppermint

Latin Name: Mentha x piperita (peppermint); Mentha spicata (spearmint); many other species of mint exist.

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Close Relatives: Basil, thyme, lemon balm, oregano

Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. flavouring desserts and meat (fresh), tea); Essential Oil (e.g. confections, personal care products); Medicinal (e.g. digestive disorders)

	Spearmint Peppermint Mint is harvested for oil at the early flowering stage
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

This crop profile applies to peppermint and spearmint in particular. Other mint species may have different production requirements. Most species of mint are highly invasive through underground rhizomes if not grown in a container. Higher latitudes with longer summer day lengths are beneficial for increasing essential oil yield of mint.

Propagation method

Most commonly by division or rhizome cuttings. Commercial varieties of peppermint and spearmint cannot be grown from seed. In commercial mint production for essential oil, a modified potato digger is used to harvest underground rhizomes for propagation purposes. Specialized machinery is then used to plant rhizome pieces into new fields.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

March (cuttings from stock plants kept in the greenhouse over winter).

Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates

Divide plants or collect root cuttings and transplant in early fall or early- to mid-spring.

In-row spacing

30-100 cm: mint plants will spread to fill in a wide range in plant spacing, but wider spacing will require more weed control before canopy closure, and will result in less production in the first and possibly the second year. Use the wider spacing for fresh herb yield for ease of manual harvest.

Between row spacing

45-120 cm (see comments above)

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Research from Indiana showed an optimal N rate for essential oil yield of 168 kg/ha for spearmint and 45 kg/ha for peppermint. Research from India showed an optimal N rate of around 150 kg/ha for herb and oil yield of both types. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types. Plant vigour is reduced on sandy soils with low organic matter. Will not survive in saturated soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range

15-25°C; temperatures >25°C reduce essential oil quality.

Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions (required for sandy soils).

Days to harvest

Fresh mint can be harvested lightly throughout the first growing season; mint for oil yield is typically harvested beginning in the first summer at bloom.

Specialized equipment:

Forage harvester and distiller (oil).

Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests annually (fresh herb); Single harvest annually (oil), a second harvest is possible in the final year before removal.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest (fresh herb); machine harvest (oil – forage harvester).

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

A mint field will remain productive for 5 to 7 years. Harvest mint for oil yield at 10% bloom in mid-summer. Leave harvested mint in wind-rows to dry for several days similar to hay, avoiding rainfall during that period. If it is too dry, mint leaves will shatter easily.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

For oil extraction, mint should be distilled shortly after field drying. Mint is usually distilled on the farm.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): >95% (fresh herb)

Temperature: 0°C (fresh herb)

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 2 to 3 weeks (fresh herb)

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Four-lined plant bug, spittle bugs, leafhoppers

Diseases: Verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahlia), rust (Puccinia menthae), powdery mildew

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Mint flea beetle, loopers (mint, celery and cabbage), borers, cutworms, spider mites (e.g. mint bud mite, two-spotted spider mites), leafrollers, slugs, snails, aphids, armyworm, garden symphylan, grasshoppers, root weevil, wireworms, tarnished plant bug

Diseases: Mint anthracnose (leopard spot - Sphaceloma menthae); Septoria leaf spot, root and crown rots (e.g. Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia), leaf blights (e.g. Phoma, Alternaria) root lesion nematodes, root knot nematode

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: Verticillium wilt, rust, four-lined plant bug (fresh herb only).  Two different races of Puccinia menthae attack peppermint and spearmint. The race that attacks peppermint will not cause disease on spearmint and vice versa. To reduce the risk of Verticillium wilt, avoid sites previously cropped to Solanaceous crops such as potatoes, or other crops susceptible to Verticillium dahliae. This crop is not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Some products are registered on this crop. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Rust pustules on the underside of a mint leaf Rust pustules on a mint stem Four-lined plant bug damage to mint Powdery mildew on spearmint
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Fletcher, R. S., McAuley, C., Kott, L. S., Palaniswamy, U. R., Gardner, Z. E. and L.E. Craker. 2005. Novel Mentha spicata clones with enhanced rosmarinic acid and antioxidant activity. Acta Horticulturae, 2005, 680, pp 31-36, 13 ref.
  2. Fletcher, R. S., Slimmon, T., and L.S. Kott. 2010. Environmental factors affecting the accumulation of rosmarinic acid in spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) and peppermint (Mentha piperita L.). The Open Agriculture Journal  4: 10-16.
  3. Fletcher, R. S.,  Slimmon, T., McAuley, C. Y., and L.S. Kott. 2005. Heat stress reduces the accumulation of rosmarinic acid and the total antioxidant capacity in spearmint (Mentha spicata L). Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 85: 2429-2436.
  4. McKeown, A.W., C.J. Bakker and J. Schooley. 1998-2002. Herb Demonstration Garden, University of Guelph Simcoe Research Station, unpublished.
  5. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Aliker, B.H. and J.E. Simon. 1996. Response of Midwestern peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) and native spearmint (M. spicata L.) to rate and form of nitrogen fertilizer. Acta Horticulturae 426: 537-549.
  2. Hocking, D. 2007. Commodity growing guides – mint. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Australia:
  3. Pollack, S. 1995. Peppermint and spearmint: an economic assessment of the feasibility of providing multiple-peril crop insurance. Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture:
  4. Regional IPM Centers. 2002. A pest management strategic plan for the Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan mint industries. US Department of Agriculture, Indiana:
  5. Singh, V.P., Chatterjee, B.N. and D.V. Singh. 1989. Response of mint species to nitrogen fertilization. Journal of Agricultural Science 113: 267-271.
  6. Small, E. 2006. Culinary herbs, 2nd Edition. NRC Research Press, Ottawa.