River mint (Mentha australis) is a perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family. The Australian native plant is a native of eastern Australia and easy to grow in the home garden.
How to Grow River Mint
River Mint is known as native mint, wild mint, native peppermint and Australian mint. The plant is characterised by having smaller leaves that common mint with a pungent and minty flavour and aroma.
Like other mints, River Mint is an invasive plant and is best grown in a container to stop it from taking over the garden. The perennial herb grows about 30cm high and spreads around 100cm wide so it pays to plant it in a large container.
River Mint is best grown from an established plant which can later be divided into additional plants. The Australian native herb can be grown in sun or shade provided it is kept well-watered. Plant it in moist, compost rich soil and keep up the watering especially during the warmer months.
The herb favours shade and moist conditions and can suffer in full sun and dry conditions. My garden has very little shade in summer and by growing it in a container I can move it around throughout the year to find an optimum position such as underneath a repurposed desk that houses herbs in pots.
Regular pruning is required to keep it looking tidy and to promote further growth. The best time to do so is at the end of summer after it has finished flowering. My plant became leggy at one point, which is common for this type of mint. After a hard prune and regular watering, it sprung back to life with lush growth.
Like all mints, it is easy to propagate, either by taking a cutting or by division when repotting and refreshing the soil.
Culinary Uses of River Mint
River Mint has the taste and aroma of a cross between peppermint and spearmint with a hint of pepper. It can be used as a replacement to common mint varieties be it in salads, sauces, tea, desserts and of course, cocktails. The leaves can be used fresh or dried.
Us it in Cocktails
Its culinary versatility easily translates to beverages. River Mint can be steeped in hot water to make a refreshing tea. It can be used to make a mint syrup or cordial as described here. The fragrant herb can be used in cocktails that use mint such as Mojito or a Mint Julep or this easy to prepare river mint cocktail. When using it as garnish, slap the mint leaves between the palm of your hands to release the oils and aromas.