Flowering mint plants

Peppermint in bloom: is it edible when it blooms?

The peppermint from our own cultivation is primarily not used for optical but for culinary enrichment. Nevertheless, the plant develops a not unsightly bloom. But can the gardener still use them in the kitchen when they are blooming? Or does he have to choose between the appearance of young buds and the typical taste of mint? In this guide he learns whether peppermint is still edible when it bears flowers.

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It is best to harvest before flowering

The flowering period of the peppermint extends from June to September. At first, spike-like panicles appear, from which white, pink or purple bell-shaped blossoms later develop. In order to attract as many insects as possible to pollinate with its scent, the plant first produces many essential oils. Shortly before it blooms (when the first buds are visible), its concentration is highest. Accordingly, this is the time when the leaves taste the most aromatic.

Peppermint is still edible when in bloom

That the leaves of the flowering plant are poisonous is just a rumor. All year round, the gardener can safely remove parts of the plant for culinary use. Only the aroma decreases when the plant blooms. In this phase it invests all its energy in the formation of the seeds, which is a natural survival instinct for successful reproduction.

Note: The aroma of the leaves depends not only on the time of harvest but also on the weather conditions. In a sunny location, the plant produces large amounts of essential oils.

All parts of the plant are suitable for consumption

It's not just the leaves that enrich food or serve as the basis for healing teas. Even the flowers can be used in culinary delights. They have a milder aroma, whereas the buds taste very spicy and strong. The leaves contain most of the essential oil that gives them their typical mint taste. The later in the year the gardener picks it, the more intense and bitter its aroma.

Harvest tips at a glance

  • best to harvest before flowering
  • the plant is non-toxic even when it blooms
  • Cut stems just above the ground after flowering
  • The plant will then sprout again
  • it is best to remove the entire stem
  • when individual leaves are plucked, germs threaten to get into the plant
  • because an open wound remains at the base of the leaf of the stem
  • after flowering, harvesting is possible until the onset of the first frosts
  • Leaves then taste tart
Tip: The so-called winter pruning after flowering is not only useful for new shoots. Peppermint not only spreads above ground, but also forms long root rhizomes that dispute other plants for nutrients and space in the herb bed. The fewer parts of the plant the roots have to supply on the surface, the less the subsurface growth.

Discomfort despite edible flowers

Many people probably believe that peppermint is poisonous when it blooms because the leaves have a very bitter taste at the time of harvest. In rare cases, consumption even triggers side effects. These can be any of the following complaints:

  • heartburn
  • Irritation of the gastric mucosa
  • symptoms similar to poisoning
  • Shivering
  • Drowsiness
  • Incoordination

These side effects result from a severe overdose of the peppermint oil contained and have nothing in common with the edibility of the leaves. Only people with gallstones are not allowed to consume the spice. However, there is danger if the peppermint is attacked by powdery mildew. The excretions of the aphids show up as a white fluff on the top or bottom of the leaf. In this disease, none of the parts of the plant are edible.

frequently asked Questions

When is the ideal harvest time?

The gardener can remove individual parts of the mint plant throughout the summer. For larger quantities, we recommend harvesting in May or June, when the leaves taste fresh. Later in the year, the mint is harvested again in September.

What factors does the aroma of mint depend on?

Rainy summers in particular reduce the aroma of the leaves during the second harvest. Basically, the more sun the peppermint gets, the more essential oils it forms. The gardener should also take this into account when choosing a location. After a warm summer there is a good chance that the leaves will taste wonderfully like mint even after the second harvest.

What is the maximum number of leaves the gardener should pick?

Due to their intense taste, even small rations are sufficient for culinary use. The gardener should therefore only pick the leaves as needed. The plant is also an important nectar supplier for bumblebees in bloom. For this reason, it is worthwhile not to cut off all of the stems when the peppermint is in bloom. However, the plant does not need the flowers and seeds for propagation. Reproduction occurs through division.