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How To Grow Mint

Posted by Dani on June 8, 2014

how to grow mint
Mint is an easy herb to grow. Most people buy a tiny mint plant at the garden store and pop it into the garden, and that’s pretty well that.

But if you want to do it right, there are a few more things you need to know.

how to grow mint

I tried to plant a mint garden. I did everything right. I planted the mint in pots and sank them into the ground because mint is a runner. Which means it can be invasive if you don’t contain it.

Well apparently mint is not only a runner, it is also a jumper. At least at night when no one is looking. It takes a flying leap and hurdles over the edge of the pot into freedom. I gave up on the mint garden.

Here’s a picture of how NOT to grow mint:

how to grow mint

You may notice that this ex-mint-garden of mine now looks just like a patch of forest. That’s because I have a forest in my backyard, which tends to take over any piece of garden I try to create. It’s an ongoing battle, and the forest always wins.

Here’s a photo of my forest, just outside of my pool area:

how to grow mint

The forest actually laughs at me sometimes and thinks “Ha! Lady, I’ve been here a lot longer than you, and I’m going to take your mint garden, chew it up, and spit out some nice mulch for my forest floor.”

Basically the only way a gardener can win around here is to hire a team of professionals to subdue this place and tame the wilderness. Or have my 75 year old Italian mother come over, who makes us all work like a pack of mules and whip this place into shape.

That woman can make anything grow, and she beats any obstacle in her way into submission. She shows that forest who’s the boss. Unfortunately, the forest critters never really get the message, and they help themselves to whatever I grow.

I’ve learned my lesson around here over the years, and have scaled back my garden expectations. Why fight a losing battle? I have kept opossums and groundhogs and deer well-fed with nice juicy tomatoes and fresh garden greens. I’ve had enough. They can just go find their own food. I’m only planting animal-proof plants. Which basically leaves me with chili peppers and herbs. So we’ll be eating lots of herbed chilis around here come fall.

Anyway, back to this post, which is actually about mint. Here’s some I just pulled out of my ex-mint-garden. Soon this container will be overflowing. Come fall, I can throw it into the garage where it will sit patiently in the dark until spring.

Mint is a great herb to grow. It’s the main ingredient in a mojito, and it practically grows itself – what’s not to love? There are a few things, however, you need to know. Here’s the lowdown.

how to grow mint

 

How To Grow Mint:

1. Mint is invasive. The roots send out runners, which form into new plants. You are supposed to be able to plant it in a garden by sinking a container into the ground, leaving the rim above ground to keep it from spreading. DO NOT DO THIS. It did not work for me. The plants escaped, and now I will be pulling mint out of the ground for-evahh!
2. Plant it in a pot or container of it’s own, or in a garden bed where you don’t mind if it takes over.
3. Choose a sunny or partially sunny location. I even have some in a shaded location, and it does just fine. In the ground, leave about 2 feet between plants. Most mints grow to 1-2 feet high. Use a light mulch to keep the soil moist and cut down on watering.
4. There are many varieties of mint, so why not try out some fun ones? In addition to peppermint and spearmint, I also have lemon mint, chocolate mint, mojito mint, and oregano-thyme mint for cooking.
5. Mint is pretty hardy, and most of mine have overwintered in containers outdoors. Check the hardiness for the mint you have. A good rule of thumb for container gardening is to deduct 2 zones if you want to leave it outside for the winter. I have also stored mine in a dark unheated garage for the winter, without watering, and they’ve done just fine.
6. Pluck leaves off or cut entire stems when you want to use it. You can also cut it back before flowering to extend the harvest.
7. Water whenever it feels dry.

 

how to grow mint

 

How To Transplant Mint:

If you have mint running wild in the garden and you want to move it to a container, of if your friend suggests you help yourself to some of hers, this is what you need to know.

1. Mint is very hardy. Don’t worry about being too gentle with it. Just dig it out of the ground, being careful to pull as much of the roots out as you can. Above you can see what it looks like when you pull it out of the ground.
2. Gather a few of the sprigs into a little bundle, and pop it into the ground. You may have to cluster the roots together when you do this – don’t worry, the mint will be fine.
3. Cut back the stems if the plant is too big when you move it, and water frequently until it’s established.
4. Look up a great mojito recipe and invite us over!

how to grow mint

Want to check out some of our other gardening posts? Here’s last year’s chili pepper haul, some ideas for blinging up your garden, how to make the cheap and easy planter you see in this post, a look at an outdoor meditation area, and a peek at the stone goddess that sits at the entrance to my forest.

 

 

28 Responses to “How To Grow Mint”

  1. Thea says:

    I had no idea how to grow mint. This was so informative and so helpful. herbs are hard to grow here because it is usually so hot and dry in the summer. I also had no idea it was so invasive. I am going to try some in a container and see how it does. I am thinking for sure the mojito kind! Thank you!

    • Dani says:

      It is the easiest herb to grow Thea! I’m not sure how it does in full sun, because mine is in part shade. I imagine it would need regular watering. Good luck!

  2. I don’t have very much of a green thumb, I tend to kill anything growing from a garden and a pot just by looking at it! But I love the idea of labeling it with a rock!

  3. I’m envious of your forest! I’d love to have that kind of privacy in our backyard, even if it means the occasional groundhog or deer thief 😉

    I’m very good at killing off even the hardiest plants, so I don’t know if even mint would be able to survive me! Although chocolate mint sounds quite good… might be worth a try 🙂 Thanks for the tips 🙂

  4. Shauna says:

    I’ve learned one plant goes a long way! We put mint in everything throughout the summer- drinks, salads, desserts…

    • Dani says:

      So true Shauna! I have lots of spots to fill with herbs that don’t require a lot of care, so I tend to use a lot of mint. It’s kind of nice to have an abundance to use and to share.

  5. Julia says:

    It’s pretty much a weed! The home we bought had it in the backyard and it took years to get rid of! While I like the taste, I opt to keep it in a potted container on the patio 🙂 Closer to the bar that way too!

    • Dani says:

      I learned this the hard way myself! Luckily it hasn’t gone too far, and I can get it under control. But from now on, it’s containers only for my mint! Thanks for dropping in 🙂

  6. Kathryn says:

    I really need to get into the whole herb thing. Mint may be a good place to start! (plus is smells so good!)

  7. Kristen says:

    I totally have a black thumb, but LOVE mojitos! Every year my mint dies. I think I’ve been giving it too much sun. Thanks for the tips!

    • Dani says:

      I find you can ignore plants a little more in the shade. Mint will do fine with only a little sun, and you don’t have to worry about watering it so much. Mulching helps too. Good luck!

  8. Alicia says:

    love your backyard. hello gorg! I’m thinking my mojitos will be oh so fresh this summer 🙂

  9. Oh man alive, is our mint ALIVE! We planted mint a few years ago for our summer mojitos… it grew beautifully, and we enjoyed it all summer long for the last two years, and still managed its presence. I don’t know what happened over the winter, but this year EEEEEK! Our mint is like a hedge! I’m not kidding, and it’s taking over EVERYTHING! Now I’m looking at trying to rip a bunch of it out! Good grief! :-/

    • Dani says:

      You’re a brave girl to try planting it in the ground! Here, it’s containers only for my mint. Good luck getting it out – probably the sooner, the better. If you’re not careful it will gang up on you 😉

  10. I adore mint but boy, have I ever learned my lesson! I’ve pulled it out of my garden and every year….it comes back 😉 AND in new places – you are SO right that it jumps! Mint could one day take over the world, I’m convinced!

  11. I don’t like mint, at least not in my meals. But I like it as a filling plant. At home I got its sister – lemon blossoms. All contained due to propagation issues 🙂

    p.s. I need your mama over to my place. I feel I might like working with her.

    • Dani says:

      I have lemon balm too, probably a similar plant to yours. Have you ever tried putting mint in your water with some lemon? Very refreshing, and I find it helps me drink more. And yes my mom comes in very handy sometime – I think I’ll keep her 😉

  12. Thanks for the great tips Daniela – I love mint – so great for summer cooking and mojitos!!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks for dropping by Krista! We’ll be using lots this summer, too. Have you ever tried it to flavour water? Very nice!

  13. I soooo want to plant mint in my back yard where nothing grows…and encourage it to take over!! I mean, there is no hope for most things, maybe mint is aggressive enough to make it!!!

    • Dani says:

      Mint is a tough love plant. Actually a no love plant! It grows in the shade with no water. Other good ones are greek oregano, chives, lovage, and thyme. I have lots of each – come over and get some 🙂

  14. We love to grow mint and have done so for many years… but you taught me quite a bit I didn’t know! Thanks for another fab post… with great pics!! Pinning!

  15. I’ve got some mint here and learnt about it the hard way. See, someone before me planted it and left it for me to deal with! It sure does spread – sigh – oh well, I di like it though. Great post!!

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