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Green leaves of river mint
This low-growing, native perennial has edible, mint-flavoured leaves that are the perfect substitute for other mints. It’s a popular bush tucker plant and its leaves are widely used to flavour a variety of savoury dishes. The leaves can also be brewed into a tea and may help to relieve cold symptoms. 


What you need to know about river mint

Name: river mint, native river mint, wild mint (Mentha australis).

Height: up to 30cm.

Plant type: perennial herb.

Climate: cool and warm temperate, sub-tropical. 

Soil: moist and well drained, enriched with plenty of organic matter.

Position: full sun to full shade.

Foliage: soft, serrated, pointed, green and highly aromatic.

Flowering: delicate white and lilac-coloured flowers appear in summer.

Feeding: feed with a complete organic-based plant food throughout the year.

Watering: water regularly.

Appearance and characteristics of river mint

This low-growing perennial herb has wonderful mint-scented foliage. It looks similar to its mint relatives, but the leaves are smaller and it only grows to 0.3m tall and up to 1m wide. However, if not contained, it can sucker and spread further, so it’s best to grow it in a pot or dedicated spot in the garden. Sweet white and lilac flowers appear in summer and are a source of nectar and pollen for native insects.

River mint prefers warm climates but can still be grown in cool zones. It becomes deciduous in cold weather but generally bounces back in spring. It grows wild in damp habitats around Australia, including on the edges of swamps and streams, so will happily grow in consistently moist areas of the garden.

Close-up of a river mint plant

How to use river mint

River mint is a sweet herb that is ideal for garden beds or pots. Pick and use the leaves fresh in any recipe that calls for mint – it’s the perfect substitute. The aromatic leaves can also be crushed and inhaled to help relieve headaches and congestion. 

How to grow river mint

Choose a spot in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil. It will also grow in full shade but can be slower growing. Enrich the soil by digging in compost and well-rotted manure. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove the plant from its pot, loosen the mix to free the roots and place in the centre of the planting hole. Backfill, firm the soil and water in well. 

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.

Caring for river mint

Once established, river mint is fairly low-maintenance. Over time, it can start to look a little straggly if grown in shady or cold conditions. Prune as needed to help promote a more bushy habit – it’s fast growing, so will recover quickly. 

If it is growing too wild in the garden, simply cut it back to keep it under control.

How often should you water and feed river mint?

Water regularly to keep the soil moist. While it is tolerant of dry conditions once established, river mint will grow better with regular watering. Top up the mulch in summer to help conserve soil moisture. 

Feed in spring, summer and autumn with an organic, slow-release fertiliser suitable for native plants. 

How and when to harvest river mint

Pick leaves whole or trim the stalks.

Diseases and pests that affect river mint

River mint is not usually bothered by pests and diseases. Occasionally it may attract sap-sucking insects such as mites, which can be treated with a suitable organic insecticide. 

How to propagate river mint

River mint grows easily from cuttings. Take cuttings 10cm long and remove the lower leaves. Place the cuttings in a glass of water and they will root after 4–6 weeks. Alternatively, insert cuttings straight into a propagating mix, position in a warm spot and keep the soil moist. 

Safety tip

After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Old man saltbush: an attractive, drought-hardy native shrub with edible salty foliage. 

Native lemon grass: a handsome grass with wonderfully lemon-scented foliage. 

Muntries: a native ground cover with small red berries that have a spicy apple flavour.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!


Photo credit: tuckerbush.com.au


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