Yes, we’re talking about mint! The breath-saving, tummy-taming, taste-boosting mint. At Fantastic Gardeners, we love this refreshing plant, and why wouldn’t we? It is fragrant, easy to grow, and has many beneficial uses in culinary arts, medicine, and cosmetics.
Even bees love its rich nectar! Find out how to plant mint in the garden and some of this botanical wonder’s most popular health benefits.
Table of Contents
How to plant mint step-by-step guide
- After purchasing your plant, carefully remove it from the pot it arrived in.
- Place the plant in the hole you have prepared for it, ensuring it is at the same depth as it was in its container.
- Add a water-retaining polymer to the soil mix to ensure that the potting soil stays moist and doesn’t dry out. You can also use vermiculite or pearlite instead of a polymer.
- Fill around the edges with soil and firm in before watering well.
- For the first few weeks after planting, give your plants a good watering once or twice a week, especially during dry spells. This will help them get established. Keep the soil damp and check it frequently to ensure it gets the right amount of water.
Mint plant care tips
Plant the mint at the right time
Mint is a fragrant herb that’s a great addition to any garden and easy to care for. This delicious herb does well in soil with a temperature of 12-21 degrees Celsius (55-70 Fahrenheit), and although its leaves may die back during colder winters, the roots usually survive, and they will come back in the spring. If you choose to plant mint in your garden, choose the early days of spring, as the soil begins to get warmer, which allows young plants to settle quickly and start growing rapidly.
Choose the right spot
Mint is an invasive plant that can quickly take over garden beds and open areas. Once planted, its underground stems root and form buds that will pop up throughout the bed and overtake other plants. To keep your garden tidy and under control, grow different varieties of mint together or in their own container. If you grow it in a pot, note that the plant may get scraggly looking after a couple of years.
When you are choosing a location to grow mint, it is essential to make sure that there is adequate sunlight. This plan will thrive if you provide a place with morning sun and partial afternoon shade. Also, it’s important to keep the soil moist. If you wonder, “does mint grow well in pots” the answer is yes. You can place your mint pot on a windowsill if it gets enough sunlight.
Growing mint in a pot indoors
Growing mint in pots is a popular way to cultivate the herb, as it is easy to control the spreading of the plant and keep it close to your kitchen for frequent use. A large pot is essential for a thriving mint plant. A pot that is 12-to-16 inches (30-40cm) wide will accommodate one mint plant. If planting multiple seedlings, place them 6 inches (15 cm) apart, so they have enough space to grow. Also, larger pots need less watering in summer than smaller ones.
Growing mint in a pot outdoors
Mint can make a great addition to any garden, but it’s essential to keep it under control. One way to do this is to sink a plastic container into the soil so the rim is just above ground level, so the pot blends in but still keep the herb contained. Another option is to plant it in a bottomless bucket and sink the bucket into the ground. This gives the illusion of growing it in the ground but has the benefit of keeping growth in check.
Regularly watering your mint plants is important to keep them healthy and hydrated, especially during dry and hot periods. Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy, and consider adding a top dressing of bonemeal or light mulch in spring and autumn to provide nutrients and help the soil retain moisture.
Mint can grow on its own but using a little fertilizer every few weeks can only help the plant grow stronger and healthier.
Once your plants are established, harvest their leaves regularly by pinching out the tops. New leaves are not only more flavorful but also more tender than older ones. Pinching also promotes bushier growth. Mint is a hardy plant that can withstand cold weather, but eventually, the plant’s top growth will die back in winter.
Most varieties don’t need any winter protection. Once your mint flowered in the late summer, you can cut the stems and leaves back near the ground. New growth will appear in early spring.
One way to have a continuous supply during colder months is to propagate some plants and keep them on your kitchen windowsill.
Pests & diseases
Pests and diseases can be a problem for mint plants. Often these plants can be affected by mint anthracnose, verticillium wilt and infested with insects such as flea beetles, root borers, spider mites, or root weevils.
To keep your plants healthy, provide good air circulation and well-drained soil. Look for pests under the leaves, as this is a common place where they like to hide. You can wash your leaves with insecticidal soap or spray them with a garden hose to get rid of any insects you find.
How to propagate mint
Mint plants can be propagated from seed, except peppermint. As peppermint does not produce seeds, this type of mint can only be grown from root cuttings taken from established plants. However, this method can be used to grow any other type of mint plant.
Via stem cuttings
Mint can easily be grown from cuttings. This method creates a new plant genetically identical to its parent through division or by taking cuttings.
If you have ever left stems of mint in a glass of water so you can use them later, you have probably noticed how quickly they form roots.
- Use cut stems of fresh growth at least 10 cm long;
- Place the glass of water on your kitchen windowsill and change the water every few days;
- It takes 10 to 14 days for the roots to form; after 3 to 4 weeks, you can plant them;
- Keep the leaves above the waterline. After your plants have developed a strong root system, you can pot them up into 6 to 8 inches deep and wide containers;
- Fill the containers with sterile, well-draining potting soil and firm it around the stems. Then water the plants gently;
- Keep the pots sheltered for 4 to 6 weeks, so the soil stays moist but not soggy. After the plants are established, you can transplant them into their permanent locations in the garden;
Via root cuttings
You can also propagate the plant via root cuttings in the autumn or early spring.
Materials you need:
- Small pots or trays (2-4 inches);
- A soil mix (1/3 well aged compost, 1/3 landscape sand, and 1/3 vermiculite or peat moss).
Here is how to do it:
- First, choose a rootbound container plant and gently pull it out of the pot;
- Cut the root ball into quarters using a hand saw or garden shears;
- Re-pot two or three of the quarters in fresh soil and divide the remaining quarter to create smaller root cuttings, each with at least one stem, so the plants will stay healthy and continue to thrive;
- Depending on the size of your containers, you may need to trim off the top growth and prune the roots;
- Put the cuttings in place, then cover them with soil and firm them gently;
- Put in a cold frame or protected site with bright, indirect light and steady humidity, and water lightly;
Stored in the fridge, you can have a fresh mint for up to 7 days. So, here is how to keep it:
- Rinse the cuttings and gently shake off the excess water;
- Get a piece of a damp paper towel and wrap the leaves;
- Place them in a loosely sealed plastic bag or storage container.
Another way to keep your mint fresh is to trim the stem ends and put them in a small glass of water inside the refrigerator. Cover the glass with a bag; remember to change the water every 3 to 4 days.
- Rinse it under cold, running water;
- Dry it in a salad spinner or pat dry it with a clean dish towel;
- Choose a cool, dry location with plenty of air circulation and tie several stems together into small bunches of 10 to 25 stems;
- Strip leaves from the stem after they become dry and crumbly, and store them in airtight containers in a dark, cool place.
If you want to make ice cubes for your iced tea or mojitos:
- Rinse and pat dry cuttings;
- Remove the leaves and discard the stems;
- Add two teaspoons of chopped leaves to each compartment of an ice cube tray after coarsely chopping the leaves;
- Top with water and freeze.
4 health benefits of mint
Mint will rock your digestive world
There’s a reason mint is used as a condiment in meals and as a flavour in oral hygiene products. Chefs love adding it to their gourmet meals not just because adjusting a tiny leaf with tweezers looks fancy but because it lets food make an elegant passage through sophisticated palates and sensitive stomachs. The menthol contained in mint has a bowel-comforting effect, easing problems with non-ulcer dyspepsia and flatulence.
The refreshing aroma of the spearmint plant activates the salivary glands in our mouths and other enzyme secreting glands, making it a perfect palate cleanser and digestive stimulant. Those chewing gum manufacturers got their game on point. And pharmaceutical companies are stepping it up, too. Menthol oil, courtesy of yours truly — Mentha, is what they put in those pills that make the difference between instagramming clouds and asking the flight attendant for a paper bag. So, next time you have problems with indigestion or feel sick to your stomach, simply make yourself a nice cup of mint tea.
Mint works against nausea and headache
One thing that can spoil the pleasure of a cruise, besides icebergs, is nausea. But here comes mint to the rescue again. Its strong and refreshing aroma makes its way swiftly across nasal passages to relieve the feeling of motion sickness. The smell of crushed mint leaves or mint oil is also known to relieve morning sickness in pregnant women. It has a muscle relaxing action and is a quick remedy for headaches.
Mint helps You breathe easily
Mint can help alleviate the symptoms of respiratory disorders from a common cold to hay fever to bronchitis and asthma. It contains rosmarinic acid, which has antioxidant properties and blocks the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals.
It also enhances the production of substances called prostacyclins that keep the airways open, helping you breathe easily. It clears up the respiratory channels of congestions and relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and irritations that cause coughing, so your body no longer has to doom its red blood cells to uneven battles with pollens.
Mint is a powerhouse in skin care
You don’t really have to be head of R&D of a cosmetics company to know mint is a valuable ingredient in skin and hair care products. Simply take a look at your bathroom shelves. Mint oil is known for its antiseptic and anti-pruritic abilities, and mint juice acts as a purifying agent, used in skin cleansing products. It has a soothing effect on the skin, and helps to cure infections while its cooling sensation relieves itchiness.
The anti-inflammatory properties of mint bring down the swelling caused by insect bites and various skin irritations. Mint is also a natural astringent often used in acne treatments. It is a source of vitamin A and salicylic acid which helps the skin shed dead cells easier, leaving it with a healthy natural glow. But mint will also reveal your inner glow, as its strong aroma is a powerful mood booster with a stress-relieving and nerve-relaxing effect.
So, if you’re now asking yourself questions such as how does mint grow and can I have one of those omnipotent herbs at home, we can assure you that growing mint is a rather uncomplicated process.
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