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Mint Plant Care

Updated on March 12, 2014

Mint Herb Care -

With dozens of available cultivars and a growth pattern that boarder lines on invasive, it's no wonder why Mint has quickly gained popularity as the perfect ground cover herb. Planted directly into the garden landscape, mint promptly establishes itself and spreads indefinitely to provide the gardener with plenty of culinary-grade leaves and garden weed suppression like no other! No in ground garden? No problem. It doesn't take a full garden to grow mint, as the vast majority of varieties are well suited and easily adapted for growing in containers. Whether you're planting this unique herb in the comforts of your raised garden bed, or in the shallows of a potting container, don't you think it's about time to discover how to care for mint plants?


Basics for Proper Mint Plant Care -

Even in the most adverse conditions, mint somehow finds a way to survive. While mints can grow in poorer conditions, it's not really beneficial for the gardener to plant in this fashion. For large, healthy, and productive mint plants, the following two factors should be at the forefront of your mind:

Orange Mint. Joe Macho
Orange Mint. Joe Macho
  • Fertile, Well-Draining Soil - Providing mint plants with proper soil will ensure lush growth year after year. When planting mint, drainage is your biggest concern. Mint plants love moisture, but if soil drainage is not adequate, the roots will suffocate and the plants will brown and die. Amending slow draining garden soils with perlite or sand can increase aeration and keep mint roots from becoming waterlogged. Besides proper soil drainage, your mint plants will also benefit from soil that has been mixed with aged compost. While the plants are generally not considered heavy feeders, the added nutrition of compost will boost nutrition levels and allow mint to feed for many seasons. Composted organic matter also increases water retention for those moisture-loving mint roots! Just be careful not to add too much organic matter, or you could risk mint rust.
  • Full Sun/Part Shade - Almost every nook and cranny in the landscape can serve as an ample shelter to plant mint. For best growth, locate an area in the garden, or patio for container gardeners, that receives at least a couple hours of full sunlight daily. Granted that the mint plants are allowed access to strong indirect sunlight the rest of the day, they'll continue to grow strong and healthy. In cooler climates, more direct full sun may be offered, while hotter climates should be prepared to provide mint plants with cooler and shadier garden options.


Obtaining Mint Plants -

Growing mint from seed can be quite the test for beginner gardeners. Due to mint's slow germination period and even slower initial growth, mint seeds must be started indoors months ahead of the last frost date. It's for this very reason that the majority of gardeners obtain mint through nurseries who offer ready to go transplants. These rooted mint cuttings are much easier to maintain, and will normally produce more foliage than a mint started from seed in the first year. When picking out mint transplants for your garden, here's a checklist to keep handy:

Pictured below is an eight week old lemon balm plant (mint family). The orange mint above was grown from cuttings and is younger than the lemon balm planted from seed.

Small Lemon Balm. Joe Macho
Small Lemon Balm. Joe Macho
  1. Variety - Are the plants labeled? There's many types of mint available to the home gardener, so make sure you know the variety you have!
  2. Health - Visually inspect the mint plants for any signs of stress or disease. If the mint plant in question is showing any orange-brown speckles on the lower foliage, the plant should be avoided. Such speckles are the signs of mint rust; a disease in which the plants need to be destroyed or burned.
  3. Pests - Check for any chewed portions or discoloration on mint leaves. Large holes in foliage often indicates loopers, while tiny discolorations could be signs of aphids, spider mites or flea beetles. With the proper care, all of these mint pests can be controlled, it's much smarter to just go ahead and avoid any pests at this stage!


Care of Mint Plants -

Choosing the variety of mint you wish to grow will seriously be the hardest part because care for mint plants is a breeze! Here's what you'll do to care for mint:

Closeup of Mint Leaves. Joe Macho
Closeup of Mint Leaves. Joe Macho
  1. If the mint plants were purchased from an indoor greenhouse, you'll need to harden off the plants before permanently planting outdoors.
  2. Plant in ground or in a large container (2+ gallons) after threats of frost have passed.
  3. Water mint plants as needed throughout the season. Mint plants enjoy soil that is thoroughly moist, so depending on your climate and the plants' location, watering may need to be conducted daily.
  4. Harvesting of the mint leaves can and should be done often during the season. Harvesting equally serves as pruning, and will promote lush and dense growth. To harvest mint, use your fingers to pinch off new growth from the tops of the plants. Pinch growth above the node that is about 1/3 of the way down on the mint branch.
  5. At the end of the season, mint plants in ground can be mulched for overwintering. Mint grown in containers will need to be dug up and the roots divided. If the roots are not dug up and separated each year, mint will eventually become so root bound it will choke itself out.


Mint Care Final Word -

Overall, you're probably not going to run across an herb that's easier to garden with than mint. In fact, gardeners may want to consider growing mint in containers only, as their growth and spreading capabilities are impressive! If you take the basic measures to provide for your mint plants, they'll in turn produce aromatic leaves for years to come. Thanks for reading my article on how to care for mint plants.

Enjoy this article on mint care? If so, I invite you to have a look through some of my other gardening guides!

Not looking for any information concerning the guides above? Maybe you'll find what you're after in my complete list of garden vegetables.


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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      great information, up vote for this post. I always have problems keeping my mint plants alive!

    • profile image

      avantitexan 5 years ago

      Great information about care for the mint plants, we've had one mint plant for a couple years now in a planter on our porch, I just thin it out and add some fresh soil every spring and it seems to do well. Appears to be pretty hardy as well, brought it back from near death due to the heat a few times.

    • JPhillipi profile image

      JPhillipi 5 years ago

      I love the smell of mint plants. We have tons of it growing in the woods behind our house. I have been thinking about trying to grow some of it so I can have it up close to the house. I never knew it was so easy to take care of. I will definitely be growing this this year!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I used to have mint in my garden years ago. It was nice having mint whenever I wanted. Then one afternoon my husband dug them up thinking they were weeds. (sigh

      Maybe it's time plant some new ones. Only this time I'll keep them indoors where I can keep an eye on them.

      Voted useful and interesting. Socially shared.

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Great article on mint plants and gardening with them. I don't currently have these plants in my container garden. Perhaps I'll add a plant or two in the future.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I do love the fragrance of fresh mint and especially love it in ice cream with chocolate. I see that it is a hardy plant to grow. I have heard that a small amount of fresh mint is enough to add a little flavor to ice tea. This is why I plan to grow some in my herb garden this fall. Thanks for the information and ideas.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      About five years ago, I planted mint in one corner of a flower bed and thought that it would remain in a bunch. Now, it is all over that bed. The roots travel like snakes. I love hot mint tea and a few leaves of it in my ice tea and lemonade. It is also great to add a few cuttings in bouquets of fresh flowers. The fragrance does wonders for the house. By the way, that bed is now our mint bed. I plan to create a fragrance garden soon. I need some ideas. I think I will pose a question to get help. "How to Create a Fragrance Garden" is a great hub for someone who is interested if it is not already overly done.