What's the best variety of mint to grow in a pot?

Growing your own herbs at home is a simple way to get into gardening – and reap the rewards of fresh mint

Garden centres are full of different types of mints at this time of year

If you love your garden but need advice on how to keep it looking lush and welcoming all year round, top head gardener Tom Brown can help. In this regular column he demystifies common gardening problems, explains what to tackle when, and shows how to make every moment on the plot more fun and productive. Happy gardening! 

What's the best variety of mint to grow in a pot?

If you’re new to gardening and feel a little daunted by all the advice and possibilities, particularly regarding growing your own food, I would suggest growing some mint in a pot. It’s an easy way to get started and enjoy the reward of fresh flavours, all thanks to your own efforts.

Flowering mints also make wonderful cut flowers, which last for a week in fresh water and even grow a little while in the vase.

Garden centres are awash with herbs at this time of year and there are many different forms of mint to choose from. I recommend growing spearmint or black peppermint to start with as both make delicious – and easily prepared –mint tea: if you’re pressed for time, the only commitment required is to simply step outside, pick a few leaves and drop them into a mug of recently boiled water for an invigorating drink.

Mints are bulletproof plants; all they need is a bucket-sized container with drainage holes in the bottom. Terracotta pots are perfect and should be available for around £5 from your local garden centre. Small mint plants – those in 3.5in pots – should cost you less than £2.

Just fill a pot with peat-free compost, place the mint plant in the centre and water well.

As we all move to using peat-free composts, you may find that plants need more feeding than they would in a peat-based product. Give them a little extra help in the form of a liquid feed and you will find that plants will perform much better.

I tend to feed plants every Friday, a little seaweed feed in the watering can will help promote fresh growth.

Do not let mint dry out in summer. In winter, place the pot in a sheltered spot to protect it from the worst of the cold and wet.

When fresh shoots emerge in spring, divide the mint into thirds and replant one third back into the pot for the following year with fresh compost.

Finally, a word of warning; avoid the temptation to plant mint in open soil: it spreads like wildfire and can be a nightmare to get rid of.