My best tips and tricks to successfully grow mint indoors, yes even in the winter.
Any kind of greenery in your home is a welcome addition, and taking care of plants can be very rewarding. For me personally, I love the idea of taking back control — even if it’s a teeny tiny portion — of the food supply into my own hands.
And I strongly believe in the mental health and happiness aspects of getting your hands dirty through direct actions. Growing at least some of your own food can be a great step towards sustainability in your personal life, which I talk about in more detail in my article:
10 Steps Towards a More Sustainable Lifestyle & Diet That Anyone Can Take.
Whatever advice you take away from this particular article on how to grow mint indoors, remember this one rule very, very carefully:
- Grow Your Mint In A Separate Container From Other Herbs
- Can Mint Be Grown Indoors?
- How To Grow Mint Indoors From Seed
- Can Mint Be Grown From Cuttings?
- How Much Light Does Mint Need To Grow Indoors?
- How To Grow Mint Indoors With an LED Plant Grow Light
- How Often Should You Water Your Mint Plant?
- Selecting The Right Container & Potting Soil Mix
- Varieties of Mint
- Indoor Mint Pests & Diseases
- How To Preserve Fresh Mint
- Recipes With Mint
- Related Articles of Interest
- How To Propagate Mint Plants
- How To Grow Mint From Cuttings
- Taking Mint Cuttings To Propagate
- Preparing Mint Plant Stem Cuttings For Propagation
- Propagating Mint From Cuttings In Water
- Growing Mint From Cuttings In Soil
- How To Transplant Mint After Propagating
- The Basics of Growing Mint
- Best Containers for Growing Mint Indoors
- Common Pests of Mint
- Common Diseases of Mint
- Transplanting mint into a container
- Transplanting mint in the ground
- Peppermint Planting: Growing Peppermint And How To Use Peppermint Plant
- Peppermint Planting and Care of Peppermint
- How to Use Peppermint Plant
- Tips for Growing Mint
Grow Your Mint In A Separate Container From Other Herbs
Mint is insanely invasive. It will take over everything and is difficult, if not outright impossible to eradicate once that happens.
Always, always, ALWAYS keep mint in its own separate container.
Can Mint Be Grown Indoors?
Yes. It is quite likely the easiest culinary herb to grow, indoors or out.
Not only is mint easy to grow, but it is also hard to kill which makes it a great choice as you can always have some fresh mint on hand without needing to invest a lot of maintenance or special care into the plant.
Think of mint like a weed, a very tasty and adaptable weed with countless culinary uses.
How To Grow Mint Indoors From Seed
Growing mint from seed is easy. Here is how I do it.
- You can use special seed starting mix if you prefer, but I grow my mint directly in my potting soil mix and in the container where they will stay.
- Fill your chosen container with the potting soil mix (more on that further down in this article) and then water the soil thoroughly.
- Sprinkle the tiny seeds over the top of the soil, being careful not to overcrowd before covering the seeds with a 1/4th inch of the same potting soil mix.
- Gently tap down the soil with your hands.
- Gently water the soil until damp.
- Cover the container with a plastic bag and place it in a warm spot or on top of a germination heating pad.
- When the seedlings begin to first pop out (usually about 7 days, sometimes longer) remove the bag entirely and place the mint in an area where it will get at least 7 hours of sunlight daily, or underneath LED Plant Grow Lights.
- If you’re growing mint year-round indoors, it will absolutely need to grow underneath LED Plant Grow Lights after the summer months.
- Keep the soil moist at all times. Mint does not like dry soil.
- Thin out if necessary or watch the seedlings battle it out for supremacy while musing about how survival of the fittest works in the plant world.
- Start harvesting once your mint plant is about 5 inches big.
Can Mint Be Grown From Cuttings?
Mint can absolutely be grown from cuttings, so you can buy some fresh at the grocery store and then easily regrow it at home.
- Take several 4-6 inch cuttings of mint, making your cut right below a node which is the small bumpy point at which the leaves grow out of.
- Remove the bottom leaves. The two most bottom nodes on your cutting should be bare of leaves.
- Stick the cuttings into your prepared potting mix about 1.5 inches deep and press down the soil surrounding each cutting you have planted.
- Keep the cuttings two inches apart.
- Gently water the cuttings, get the top inch of soil wet but dot pour water directly on top of your newly planted cuttings as this can dislodge them from the soil.
- For the next two weeks, keep your mint cuttings in a bright spot or underneath LED Plant Grow Lights.
- Keep the soil constantly moist but not soaking wet.
- You should see new growth merge in two weeks.
- After 1-month the cuttings will be robust and healthy enough to harvest.
How Much Light Does Mint Need To Grow Indoors?
Mint requires at least 6-7 hours of sunlight each day, but if you’re using LED Plant Grow Lights, follow the instructions for your particular brand.
Keep mint in daytime temperatures ranging 18-22 Celsius (65-70 F) and nighttime temperatures in the 13-15 Celsius (55-60 F) ranges.
How To Grow Mint Indoors With an LED Plant Grow Light
If you want to grow culinary herbs indoors throughout the cold months for any real use in the kitchen, you need an LED Plant Grow Light. Period.
The weak winter sunlight is not enough and your windowsill can be too cold besides that depending on where you live (I’m in Toronto).
You can find these lights second-hand online quite often, but also brand new on Amazon and in Costco. They’re becoming wildly popular and less expensive by the day.
Read some reviews and pick a unit that can work for you and your space. I will cover my own recommendations in another article in the future, so subscribe for my monthly newsletter if you want updates.
I have a big wire rack in my second bedroom for starting seedlings and growing food indoors year-round, but I also have a set of lights mounted underneath one of my kitchen cabinets where all of my herbs go to eventually live once they’re big enough and I can use them in my cooking.
I got those particular lights in Costco for $40 Canadian and they’re completely invisible underneath the cupboard.
Keeping the lights on only at night means I don’t have to stare at LED lights when I’m using my condo living room, and I pay next to nothing in higher electricity costs as it is significantly cheaper at nighttime in Ontario to use electricity, most of which is coming from green sources.
How Often Should You Water Your Mint Plant?
Mint does not like dry soil although it will likely survive quite some neglect.
Keep the soil damp at all times, using your finger as a gauge. I tend to water my plants daily, even if its just a light misting of the soil.
Selecting The Right Container & Potting Soil Mix
Mint is a fast-growing plant, choose a large enough container that reflects the size of mint you want according to your own use of the herb in the kitchen.
Materials don’t matter that much. I personally love unglazed terracotta as it is inexpensive, sustainable, extremely durable, and very attractive in a natural and rustic way. I avoid plastic as much as possible unless I’m resuing containers.
A 5-litre pot works best. It will allow you to grow a decent amount of mint while also not overwhelming a small space. A 5-litre pot will typically have a 6.5-inch diameter at the base.
A container with drainage is essential for every plant or herb you grow regardless of what material you choose.
Check out second-hand and thrift stores for cheap pots.
For the potting soil mix, you can either buy that in any garden center or mix up your own.
To make your own potting soil mix for mint:
- 25% garden soil
- 25% fine sand
- 25% coconut coir peat
- 25% vermicompost or composted manure
But also mint will literally grow anywhere in anything most of the time. Feel free to use what you have on hand.
Vermicompost is compost made by worms, I built a little vermicomposting system for underneath my kitchen sink for next to nothing. If you want to read about how I did that, check out my article:
Vermicomposting: Worms In a Small City Condo?
Varieties of Mint
There are over 600 varieties of mint in the world that we know of.
Some have very little to no noticeable difference between them, making them completely interchangeable for culinary uses.
Others have a distinct note or taste that makes them more experimental when cooking.
Some varieties of mint you can grow includes:
- Pineapple mint
- Korean mint
- Chocolate mint
- Licorice mint
- Basil mint
- Red Raripila mint
- Apple mint
- Lavender mint
- Grapefruit mint
- Korean mint
Indoor Mint Pests & Diseases
Your mint plant is a hardy survivor, but sometimes even indoor mint can fall prey to certain diseases or even aphids.
Often this is coming from reused or outdoor garden soil being brought inside to grow your mint.
Just keep an eye out for strange discolouration or holes and proceed accordingly.
How To Preserve Fresh Mint
Mint can be successfully dried and stored, frozen in ice cube trays, or used in compound butters recipes and then frozen.
Check out my guide:
7 Way To Preserve Fresh Herbs
Recipes With Mint
Fresh Mint Tea (Hot or Iced)
Blood Orange & Pomegranate Syrup Moscow Mule
Related Articles of Interest
Vermicomposting: Worms in a Small City Condo?
10 Steps Towards a More Sustainable Diet & Lifestyle That Anyone Can Take
Tell me what you think in the comments. Are you growing culinary herbs or anything else in your home year-round? Got any tips or tricks I may have missed? Let’s share the knowledge!
Propagating mint is a great way to get free plants that you can use in your garden, as fillers in containers, or to share with friends. In this post, I will show you how to grow mint from cuttings in water or soil, and give you tips for transplanting mint plants after propagation too.
How To Propagate Mint Plants
There are a couple different methods you can use for propagating mint, and they’re all really easy. These methods are propagation by seed, by division, or by rooting plant cuttings. In this post, I’m going to show you how to grow mint plants from cuttings rooted in either water or soil.
Oh, and you can follow these instruction for propagating all different types of mint plants too. I propagated a few of my favorite mint varieties in this post, including chocolate mint, my peppermint plant, and a variegated mint (I think it’s either ginger or pineapple mint).
How To Grow Mint From Cuttings
Growing mint from cuttings is super easy. In the right environment, it only takes a few days for the cuttings to start to develop roots of their own. Mint will grow roots out of the leaf nodes on the stems, and can be rooted in soil or water.
There is a tradeoff for each of these two methods for propagating mint though, so keep this in mind when deciding which one to use. Plants rooted in soil are much stronger, and there’s a lower risk of them dying from transplant shock when you pot them up. But it’s a bit more difficult to root cuttings with this method.
On the other hand, it’s much easier to root mint cuttings in water, but the plants tend to be weaker. When rooted in water, plants can be slower to recover from transplant shock, and have a higher risk of dying after being transplanted.
Taking mint cuttings for propagation
Taking Mint Cuttings To Propagate
The best time of year for propagating mint is during the late spring or early summer once the plant starts to grow taller, but before they have started flowering. Flowering takes a lot of energy, and a stem that hasn’t flowered yet will be able to put it’s energy into growing new roots instead of flowers.
Take cuttings that are 3-5 inches long so that there is plenty of area on the stem for roots to grow. Longer stems are easier to propagate than short ones since there will be more places for roots to grow.
Mint cuttings will start to wilt very quickly after removing them from the plant, and you definitely don’t want them to dry out before propagating them. So be sure to prepare the soil or your vase of water before taking cuttings. That way you can get them into the dirt or water quickly before they start wilting.
Preparing Mint Plant Stem Cuttings For Propagation
Before propagating the cuttings, remove 2-3 sets of leaves from the bottom of the stem. You can carefully pinch them off with your fingers, or use a sharp pair of pruners or bonsai shears so you won’t accidentally damage the stem.
Ideally, each stem will have 2-3 empty leaf nodes on it, but there should be at least one empty leaf node on each stem at minimum.
Remove bottom leaves from the cuttings
Propagating Mint From Cuttings In Water
Growing mint from cuttings in water is super easy. All you need to do is put them into a vase just like you would do with cut flowers. Make sure that none of the leaves are touching the water, because those will rot.
I like to use a glass vase so that it’s easy to see when the roots have developed, and to make sure the water level doesn’t get too low. I also like to make sure the vase I use is tall and narrow, rather than shallow and wide so that my cuttings will stay upright and won’t settle down into the water and rot.
For best results when rooting cuttings in water, allow each cutting to grow several roots that are thick and a few inches long before transplanting them into soil. The thicker the roots, the better they will be able to survive transplant. Although don’t keep your mint growing in water for too long or it can also worsen the risk of transplant shock.
Propagating mint in water
Growing Mint From Cuttings In Soil
Mint plant propagation is a bit more difficult with this method, but it’s still pretty easy as long as you provide the right environment. In order to root mint cuttings in soil, the air needs to be very humid. It’s super easy to provide the perfect environment outside in the summer if you live in a humid climate like I do.
But, if you live in a dry climate, or you want to try rooting the cuttings inside the house, then I recommend using some kind of a propagation kit. You can buy a basic propagation chamber or you can try making your own DIY propagation box for rooting cuttings. Whichever you choose to use, adding bottom heat will help to speed things up too.
- Propagation soil (I mix my own using perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss – but you can use a seed starting mix instead)
- A pot or a propagation chamber
- Plant rooting hormone
- Sterile and sharp pruners or bonsai shears
- Heat mat (optional)
Step 1: Cover the cutting stem in rooting hormone – If you’ve never used it before, rooting hormone makes propagating cuttings in soil much easier. It speeds up the process, and helps to ensure your cuttings will grow a thick, healthy root system.
Dip mint cuttings into rooting hormone
Step 2: Make a hole in the dirt – You can use your finger or a pencil to make a hole in the dirt where the cutting will go. Making a hole first helps to make sure you don’t damage the cutting or rub off the rooting hormone when sticking the stems into the soil.
Step 3: Put the cutting into the soil – Place the cut end into the hole, and gently press the soil around it to ensure sure that it comes in contact with the cutting
Growing mint from a cutting planted in soil
Step 4: Wet the soil – If you planted your cuttings in a pot, then water the soil until water starts coming out of the drainage holes. If you’re using a propagation box, then it’s easier to moisten the propagation medium before adding the cuttings.
Otherwise you can gently pour water into the box, being careful not to displace the medium. Or simply give it a good misting with a plant sprayer.
You can put several cuttings into one large pot or your propagation chamber, but try to space them apart far enough so they don’t touch each other. This will ensure adequate airflow, and will help to prevent mold growth or rotting of the cuttings.
Keep your cuttings out of the sun until they start putting on new growth, and keep them evenly moist. You don’t want the soil to be soggy, but never allow it to dry out either.
If it’s not very humid where you live, and you’re not using a propagation box, then misting the cuttings regularly helps to encourage rooting. You’ll know your cuttings are rooted once you see new leaves starting to grow.
The start of mint plant roots on cuttings
How To Transplant Mint After Propagating
Once your the cuttings have developed a healthy root system, it’s time to pot them up into their own containers. If you’re planning to grow your mint plant in the garden, then you can simply use general potting soil to pot the cuttings up temporarily.
If you’re potting up cuttings that were rooted in water, they may droop after being transplanted into soil but they should recover within a few days. Just keep your new baby mint plant out of the sun and don’t fertilizer them until they recover.
After the plants have recovered from transplant shock, you can move them into the sun and start feeding them. There’s not a specific type of mint fertilizer, but I recommend using natural fertilizer for mint plants rather than chemicals.
Start by giving them a weak dose of liquid fertilizer (fish emulsion and compost tea are great choices!) and slowly increase the dose over time.
Once they have become established in their pots, it’s safe to plant them into the garden. I recommend transplanting mint in the ground on a cloudy day or in the evening after the heat of the day has passed. Be sure to give them plenty of water after planting them into the garden.
New plant after propagating mint from cuttings
Propagating mint is fun and easy, and it’s a great way to share your favorite mint plant varieties with friends, or give them as gifts! Mini mint plants also make excellent (and free!) fillers for summer containers. Once you know how to grow mint from a cutting, you’ll have plenty of plants to share.
If you want to learn even more about propagating your favorite plants, then my Plant Propagation Made Easy eBook is for you! It has all the details you need to in order to learn how to propagate any type of plant that you want.
More About Plant Propagation
- Plant Propagation Supplies List
- What Is Plant Propagation (and how to get started)
- How To Propagate Lavender Plants From Cuttings
- How To Propagate Banana Plants
Share your tips for propagating mint plants in the comments section below.
Do you have extra mint that you can’t finish? Instead of letting them rot and eventually throwing them away, why not plant them instead? Or you have a pot of flourishing mint which you are told you should harvest to encourage more growth. Why not propagate the stems and giveaway to your friends?
When I started my apartment garden, I get most of my potted plants from family, friends and a community garden. Planting from seed takes too much time, effort and patience. But I realise that planting from stems is rather easy.
THE BIG PICTURE
Vegetables and herbs that we got from the supermarket normally have their roots remove. The good news is that you can grow the roots again in water! All you need to do is place the stems in water and in a matter of days, you’ll see light roots growing from the nodes.
Length of roots at Day 5 vs Day 10
You can simply put the stems in a jar. But I like to give proper attention to each stem by placing them in a DIY rooting bottles. The leaves are gently held by the cup of the bottle and the delicate roots would be protected from others stems.
Besides, treating stems like individuals and seeing the difference in their growth is fun. I like to see how stems from the same plant and soaked on the same day has different growth rate. Here’s how to make your own DIY rooting bottles!
Mineral water bottle (300 g) x 1
HOW TO MAKE DIY ROOTING BOTTLE
- Remove label from the bottle.
- With a knife, poke a hole at the curve of the bottle.
- Continue to cut it with a knife, or use a pair of scissors to detach the top.
- Flip the top and place it over the bottom bottle.
- Fill with water and place stem in it!
HOW TO CUT/SELECT STEMS?
- Cut about 10 cm from the top of the mint plant (the stems should be thick and strong)
- Cut the stems right below the nodes. This is where roots will shoot out.
- Remove leaves from the bottom of the stems.
- Besides mints, you can try other herbs like daun laksa (kesum) and basil.
- Let the roots grow to at least 1/2 inch. Mine took 5 – 10 days.
Do try it and tag us on Facebook or Instagram! We’ll love to see how yours turn out!
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Indoor herb gardens have become incredibly popular over the years. Well, houseplants, in general, have become loved among millennials and Gen X-ers everywhere, but making an indoor jungle edible truly enhances the green thumb experience! One of the staple herbs to include in an herb garden is mint. Although it is one of the best and easiest herbs to grow, not everyone knows how to go about growing it indoors.
How is mint grown indoors? A few different ways exist to grow mint indoors – gardeners can choose to start from seed or a cutting, and grow in either soil or in water alone. When growing mint indoors, remember to keep the mint pruned and be mindful of pests and diseases.
A few different options are out there when it comes to growing mint – or any plant – indoors. To start, choose to grow mint from seed or begin with a start (a young plant that has already germinated from its seed). From there, choices of soil (or no soil at all), container, placement, and lighting will directly affect the efficiency with which the mint plant grows.
The Basics of Growing Mint
Many different species of mint (belonging to the genus Mentha) exist, all of which are incredibly fast-growing, spreading plants. In total, about 20 Mentha species exist, the most popular of which are peppermint, spearmint, sweet mint, and chocolate mint. They must be given ample room to spread without becoming a hindrance to the growth of other plants, or even to themselves.
To do this, either give plants a large container in which to grow and thrive or even suspend them as a hanging plant, for their runners to cascade down out of the container.
Mint grows outward and spreads because they send out runners, which are essentially the branches of the mint that rest just above the surface of the soil and ultimately send out their own roots and become another luscious bush of mint.
Mint is a highly aromatic perennial plant that, again, can grow very quickly – even to the point of becoming very invasive. It is important to keep a close eye on mint plants and prune or harvest from it regularly. This plant can grow anywhere between20-35 inches tall and can persist for several years after it becomes established.
Starting Mint from Seed
Mint seeds should be sowed in the spring or fall, a safe distance from any windows or doors. Mint plants should be settled in a cozy corner or area of the house where it will not be too exposed to chilling winds or frost.
The best soil for sowing and growing mint should be rich in minerals and slightly acidic (between pH levels 6 and 7). Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch into the soil. Multiple seeds can be planted in one container. However, after they all germinate, check back and thin out the container to provide ample space for mint to grow.
Seedlings should be spaced about 18 to 24 inches apart.
Propagating a Cutting of Mint
A new mint plant can also be grown from a cutting taken from an established plant or by dividing a mature plant. This method is known as propagation and is one of the easiest and most reliable methods of growing a mint collection once one mint plant is established.
Before propagating mint, make sure to check the plant from which the cutting will be taken. Ensure that no disease or pests are present that will be passed on to the new plant by observing the leaves, stems, and soil for any unusual spotting, insect presence, or fungal residue on the plant or in the soil. Once the established mint plant has passed this check, it’s time to grab some fresh cuttings to propagate.
How to Propagate Your Mint
- Choose the branch from which to source a new plant and cut it to be about 8cm (0.4in) in length. Remove the lowest leaves on the cutting and cut the stem just below the leaf node (the point on the stem from where the leaves begin to emerge). It is best to take cuttings from the top growth of the mint plant.
- Place the new cuttings in a glass of water. This glass should be located in an area of the home that is exposed to full sun with good ventilation.
- After a few weeks, the mint plant will have begun to grow the beginnings of a healthy root system. Once multiple main root extensions are present, the cutting is ready to be placed in soil. These two ways are recommended to introduce soil to the new root system:
- Gradually introduce the mint cutting to the soil by slowly adding increasing amounts of soil to the glass in which it was propagated over a few days. This decreases the chance of the mint experiencing shock when transferred into the new environment from water to soil.
- Go straight from water to soil by removing the cutting from the glass and placing it into a small container with well-draining soil (ideally mixed with compost).
- Set the soil and compost around the stem and roots of the plant by watering thoroughly after transplanting.
- Enjoy the new mint plant!
General Care Instructions for Mint
Mint plants prefer to grow in full sun but can also tolerate lesser light down to partial shade – so it should be placed in an area of the home that is in some way exposed to the sunlight through a window. Mint is an extremely hardy perennial plant and does not go down without a fight – which is why this plant can stick around for years at a time. It can even handle temperatures as low as -29˚C (-20˚F)!
Repeat after me: Mint must be pruned. When gardeners say this plant grows fast, they are not kidding. Mint can spread like wildfire, so it is important to stay on top of a regular pruning schedule. Focus on keeping the vertical branches trimmed (if that is a pleasing aesthetic) and pay special attention to any runners that sprout from the main plant.
Gardeners may fertilize mint when transplanting and in the spring with a slow-release fertilizer to keep it well-fed throughout the season.
Another task to keep in mind is that of pinching off flowers to prevent mint from going to seed too soon. Not only will this reduce the production of mint leaves, but it will also take away from the rich taste of the mint and reduce the content of essential oil.
Harvesting Your Mint
Begin harvesting mint once it reaches about 8 to 10cm (3-4in) in height. Harvest either individual leaves or whole stems at a time. If harvesting an entire stem, cut the stem at approximately 2.5cm (1in) from the soil line.
In order to dry mint leaves, it is best to harvest them just as flowers begin to bud. For fresh leaves and stems, harvest as needed. These are best kept in the refrigerator, in a small glass of water, or dry and wrapped in either a plastic or paper bag for up to a week.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Best Companion Plants for Mint
One of the most reliable ways of keeping mint happy and healthy is by planting it along with other herbs or veggies that will enhance its growth and/or protect it from any pests that may sneak their way into a home.
Understandably, not many people are looking to grow an entire vegetable garden indoors. Realistically, many indoor herb gardens are used for harvesting only occasionally and kept small (and tame) for convenience and aesthetics. That being said, when choosing a companion plant, make sure it is not one that will become more of a burden than a benefit.
Some plants that make great neighbors for mint are species in the cabbage family, including broccoli and kale, nettles and chard. If mint is being grown to use for essential oils, the nettle is especially good in that it works to increase the oil content of many herbs.
Mint species are closely related to other herbs such as basil, sage, rosemary, marjoram, lavender, pennyroyal, and thyme. Any of these species grown together in the same container would do well, in addition to the ones previously listed. Although they may not present the same beneficial properties, their presence may ultimately be neutral in nature.
Do not plant mint with chamomile because these species will not grow well together.
Best Containers for Growing Mint Indoors
When choosing a container for a mint plant, keep in mind that this plant thrives in moist soil. Herbs are quite unlike typical houseplants with decorative foliage and very much the opposite of succulents, in that they need a regular, fresh supply of water to keep them healthy.
The first thing this indicates is that gardeners should avoid planting mint in a container that will not hold water well – yes, we’re looking at you, terracotta. Although this is a good choice for many decorative household plants, it is not good for an herb garden.
Regarding the other end of the spectrum, note that mint likes soil that is moist, but not soaking. Overwatering mint is just as damaging as underwatering it, and those mint plants that are housed in smaller containers are especially vulnerable to drowning or root rot.
The best containers for mint will be those that will not cause the root system to overheat and will easily get rid of excess water (proper drainage holes or a self-watering pot). If the container will be located near a window, avoid dark-colored containers.
For more information on good containers and how to achieve proper drainage, check out some of our other related articles.
The 9 Best Containers for Growing Vegetables
Good Drainage in Pots: DO NOT Use Rocks and Root Rot Explained
How to Choose Soil for Growing Mint
Ensure that the soil is able to drain well, but not drain so much that the water simply runs through the container without nourishing the root system. The best option is to go with a premixed potting soil. Check out how we make our own potting soil here – DIY Potting Soil and Seed Starting Mix to Save Money.
These mixes offer the best aeration to ensure strong growth of the root system. If the soil is too compact, the roots will face tremendous resistance when growing and expanding into the container. The texture of these soil mixes also contributes to their ability to hold on to just enough water to nourish the plant without drowning it.
If the soil is either too compact or holding too much water, adjust the ratio of soil to air by adding perlite, vermiculite, or woodchips to the mixture, to help break up the medium just a bit.
Check out our article on using compost indoors for more information on fertilizing your mint plant naturally! Can Compost Be Used in Containers and Indoor House Plants?
Another very cool, eco-conscious way of growing plants indoors is with aquaponics. This method is popular in that it serves multiple purposes at the same time: greening up the home, supplying food and herbs, and functioning as a habitat for aquatic friends. Mint is an especially good plant for aquaponics because it is so easy to grow and not too picky with nutritional requirements.
Aquaponics is defined as the integration of aquaculture (growing fish a re-circulating system) and ponos (the Greek word for growing plants with or without media, or soil). Note that this is slightly different from hydroponics. The key difference between the two is that aquaponics involves the presence of fish and other aquatic organisms, while hydroponics focuses only on plant growth.
Not only is this a fun method to grow mint indoors but it is also one of the most efficient. The fish tank pumps water for the plants, the present bacteria (associated with the fish) then convert ammonia and nitrite to nitrate, the plants absorb this nutrient-rich water, and the filtered water that has now gone through the plants is distributed into the tank, fresh and clean!
This method is also less expensive as it uses only about 10% of the soil a gardener would otherwise use in a traditional soil medium. Additionally, there is no need to purchase fertilizer since the bacteria and fish’s waste feeds the plants. It also reduces the chance of pest infestations, as there is no soil for them to hide in.
How to Set Up an Aquaponics System for Mint Plants
A wide variety of aquaponics tank designs on Amazon are out there for indoor herb gardens. They vary widely in size and shape, so the type of container used depends greatly on a gardener’s needs and preferences. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing an aquaponics setup is the desired location of the tank in the home.
Of course, as with mint planted in soil, a tank should be placed near a window for exposure to sunlight ranging from full sun to partial shade. However, this may not be best for fish kept in the tank. This is where a grow light comes in. Many tanks come with an attached grow light, while others do not – make sure to read up on the species you wish to inhabit your aquaponics tank to prepare.
The best fish species to keep an indoor aquaponics set up healthy and the mint happily growing are goldfish and tropical fish like suckermouth fish, cichlids, mollies, clown loaches and tetras. Pay attention to the variety of fish, though, because some can outgrow the tank pretty quickly.
With this setup especially, be extra vigilant when it comes to pruning mint regularly. Remember that mint can easily take over a small container and outgrow the system and its grow light if not handled properly!
Common Pests of Mint
Of course, whether indoors or outdoors, one of the things that needs observed regularly is potential pests that can harm mint or any other plants in an indoor herb garden. Below is a table that outlines common pest species of mint and symptoms that can be used to identify their presence.
Although it may be expected that pests are more likely to attack plants outside, these pests are so small that they can infest a mint plant in exceptionally high numbers even indoors (especially aphids and spider mites).
Pest Description Symptom Treatment Aphid/Peach aphid (Myzus persicae) This is a small, soft-bodied insect that lives on the undersides of leaves and/or the stems of a plant. They are typically green or yellow in color but can also be pink, brown, red, or black, depending on the host plant. With a heavy infestation, leaves may become yellow and/or misshapen due to the aphids drawing the fluids out of the leaf. Necrotic spots (a fungal disease that typically follows aphids) on leaves and stunted shoots are additional symptoms of an aphid infestation. Lastly, from the aphids themselves, there will be a sticky residue called honeydew left on the leaves and stems of the plant. This is what facilitates the rise of fungal diseases like necrotic spots. If the aphid infestation is not too heavy, they can be controlled simply by pruning the affected leaves. Make sure to check any plants or cuttings you intend to transplant in order to prevent an infestation from beginning at all. “Reflective mulches” such as white or silvery plastic materials can deter aphids, as well as strong, concentrated streams of water. When infestation is particularly heavy, neem or canola oil diluted with water can take care of the problem. Cutworms (Agrotis species) The cutworm is actually not a worm, but the larval stage of a moth. Its appearance is similar to that of a small, immature caterpillar. They come in a variety of colors depending on the species, location, and host plant. Typically 2.5-5.0cm (1-2in) in length. Stems of young transplants or seedlings may be cut at the soil line. These cuts can become infected later on. They are more active at night and hide during the daytime. If one is seen out and about, it will likely curl into a C-shape if frightened. If growing other vegetables or herbs indoors, it is very likely that the cutworm has infested these as well, as they have quite a wide range of host plants. At least two weeks before planting/transplanting or immediately after harvesting, be sure to remove all plant residue from the soil (especially if the residue is from alfalfa, beans or other legumes). Plastic or foil “collars” arranged around the bottom 3 inches of plant stems (and 1-2 inches below the soil line) can protect mint from being attacked by the cutworms. Additionally, diatomaceous earth around the base of plants is a strong defense against many pests. Wait until after dark to hand-pick the larvae from plants. Thrips/Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) This insect, at first glance, appears to be an elongated gnat – one that was stretched at the abdomen. They range in color from pale to yellow to dark brown, with some darker markings on their abdomen. With a heavy infestation, thrips will cause leaves to be covered in “stippling” (looks like lots of tiny polka dots) and may even appear to be silver in tint. You will also find their little black feces everywhere on the leaves. This insect requires a preventative approach, due to the fact that they transmit Tomato spotted wilt virus and can carry it for the remainder of their lives. Also, they can grow to very large numbers, and insecticide must be used at that point. Since insecticide should not be used indoors, it is best to avoid planting mint near any onions, garlic, or cereals/grains (these are highly attractant, and thrips populations will build up around these plants). Reflective mulches are useful in the early stages of the growing season. Spider mites/Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) This little critter is barely visible, as it is only about 1/50in long. They can be brown, orange-red, green, greenish-yellow, or even translucent. (The final two colors are the most common.) These will just look like tiny little dots walking around on the plant. When spider mites have affected a plant, the leaves will be stippled with yellow markings and appear to be somehow bronzed. Delicate webbing may also be covering the leaves. Spot the spider mites crawling around on this webbing or on the undersides of the leaves. Unfortunately, the mites will most likely not be seen until after symptoms are noticed. Spider mites do best in dusty conditions and can severely impact water-stressed plants. This is one of the reasons many indoor gardeners wipe their plants down regularly. Spraying plants with a concentrated stream of water will help to eliminate the problem, as well as applying insecticidal soaps (but be careful and read the label! Some insecticides will actually kill the competitors and/or predators of spider mites, and ultimately worsen the problem gardeners are trying to eliminate!).
Common Diseases of Mint
Finally, it is important to know what types of diseases may befall mint when growing it indoors. Being inside makes it significantly less likely to be exposed to many different types of diseases, but it does not make the plant immune to them.
Mint rust is one of the most common diseases seen in many variations of mint. This disease particularly affects the leaves and shoots of the plant, and, if left untreated or noticed too late, it can completely defoliate the plant and leave nothing to harvest. This disease is caused by a fungus and is especially damaging to spearmint and peppermint.
One of the best defenses against both diseases and plants for herbs is to regularly look at them and keep a note of their appearance and growth. This fungal disease is true to its name in that it looks exactly like small spots of rust on the leaves of the plant.
Remember that protecting mint from insects that facilitate fungal growth is a strong preventative method, but also properly watering mint will protect it from such diseases as well. Overwatering the plant without allowing it to fully drain or dry out can also welcome the growth of fungus. Keeping mint well-pruned and well-drained can protect it from mint rust.
Mint is one of the most popular plants to grow indoors, given how easily and enthusiastically it grows. The main takeaways from this article should be
- Keep a close eye on the growth habits of mint. Prune it regularly to keep it from overtaking its container or aquaponics setup, companion plants… and your life.
- Mint can tolerate partial shade, but it will grow its best in full sun. Keeping mint in the sunlight from a window or somewhere in the home where it is exposed to indirect light is best.
- Plant mint in a container that will not drain water from the soil (e.g., terracotta) and in soil that is well-draining.
- The best defense against disease and pest infestations is prevention! Observe any cuttings, seedlings, starts or transplants before committing to them in order to avoid the spread of disease.
Once you decide which of the methods and containers is best for you, get indoors and start your dream herb garden. Mint is one of the best plants to grow both indoors and outdoors due to its many uses and amazing scent. It takes a bit of work, but once you get into a set routine, mint will stick around and supply oil and leaves for years to come!
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Photo by Marko Blazevic
Mint is a very sturdy plant and is, in fact, a weed that will, in the way of all weeds, take over your garden if you let it. For that reason, many gardeners choose to cultivate mint in a container. Like most houseplants, you will need to transplanting mint into a permanent container once you have brought it home from the nursery or store or in the instance you wish to grow bigger than the current pot will hold.
Here are some tips for transplanting mint into a container or in the garden.
Transplanting mint into a container
Most plants come in a tiny plastic container in a tray of six or eight plants that will be transplanted to wherever you wish to have them, whether in the ground or in another larger container. Unless you are using a very large container, do not overcrowd your plants. Plants need proper space to grow and spread out. If you plant them too close together, you will stunt their growth and restrict the yield.
If you decide to go the container route for your mint plant, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
- Before planting, you will need to water the mint to keep it from drying out. Do not overwater, just lightly sprinkle with a watering can for a couple of days before you want to transplant.
- Make sure your pot has a drain hole in the bottom (always a good idea for most plants) and fill halfway with all-purpose potting soil.
- Remove the plant gently by tapping on the bottom, squeezing slightly, or tearing off the thin plastic around the plant. If you are replanting from another container, hold upside down with your hand around the base of the plant and pat gently on the bottom.
- Make sure the plant is at the same depth as in the old pot and fill around the plant up to the base.
- After planting water right away, pouring until water runs out of the drainage hole to ensure the soil is properly soaked. Water when the top of the soil feels dry but do not over water.
- Place your container, whether inside or out, in a vantage point to receive morning sun and afternoon shade for best results.
Transplanting mint in the ground
Mint can be planted in the ground if there is sufficient space for it to spread out and not overgrow other plants. Be aware that mint is a weed and can easily take over your garden. If this is your desire, proceed as instructed.
- As with the mint planted into a container, water sparingly for a few days before replanting.
- Loosen the soil where you are planting with a small spade or rake, working down to a depth of around 9 inches. Remove any rocks, roots, and dirt clumps to make the soil smoother to facilitate planting.
- Do not plant where standing water gathers to avoid drowning your mint. Choose soil that drains well.
- If transplanting a larger plant, dig down four to five inches or dig in a large circle around the base. You will need to preserve as many of the roots as you can to sustain your plant in the new soil.
- Make sure the roots have room to spread out then backfill the dirt. Be careful not to plant too deep so the plant will not smother.
- Water after planting and check often. If the soil feels dry to the touch, add some water as mint doesn’t like dry soil.
Growing your own foods and herbs is not only very satisfying, but also a great way to control the quality of the foodstuff, making sure you give your family only the best.
Did you know that mint has many health benefits? Check out this article to learn more about them.
For more tips about transplanting mint watch the following video:
Peppermint Planting: Growing Peppermint And How To Use Peppermint Plant
Almost everyone has heard of peppermint. That’s the flavoring they use in toothpaste and chewing gum, isn’t it? Yes, it is, but a peppermint planting in your home garden can offer you so much more. Learning how to grow peppermint is easy, but before we get into growing peppermint, let’s learn a little bit about the plant itself.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) was first cultivated in 1750 near London, England as an experimental hybrid between watermint and spearmint. That you can now find naturally growing peppermint almost anywhere in the world is a testament not only to its adaptability, but as an indication of its medicinal qualities. Once our forefathers, or more likely foremothers, learned how to use the peppermint plant, they took it everywhere they moved or visited where some, no doubt, was left behind with new friends.
Peppermint Planting and Care of Peppermint
Although the care of peppermint is a little more involved than just sticking it in the ground, it certainly isn’t intricate. First and foremost, this plant needs lots of water and it is often found naturalized by streams and ponds where the soil is rich and the drainage is good. It won’t tolerate dry conditions. While partial sun is sufficient for peppermint, planting it in full sun will increase the potency of its oils and medicinal qualities.
Though not as invasive as some of its mint relatives, no instructions on how to grow peppermint would be complete without mentioning its tendency to spread. Because of this, many gardeners prefer growing peppermint in containers. Others grow it in the ground with wood or plastic edging buried around the bed to prevent the spread of roots. Whatever method is chosen, good care of peppermint includes moving the plants to a new location every three or four years. They tend to weaken and become spindly if left in the same place for too long.
There are two main cultivated varieties of this aromatic herb: black and white. Black peppermint has deep purple-green leaves and stems and a higher oil content. The white is actually light green and has a milder flavor. Either is adequate for growing peppermint at home.
How to Use Peppermint Plant
You can keep a peppermint planting simply for its delightful saw-toothed leaves and delicate flowers or for the spicy fragrance released when the leaves are crushed between your fingers. However, once you learn to use the peppermint plant for medicinal purposes, you may become an even greater fan.
Within the pharmaceutical community, many home remedies were written off as old wives tales, but recent university research has revealed that many of our grandmother’s recommendations for how to use peppermint plant were indeed accurate and effective. Here are some proven facts:
- Digestion – Peppermint is good for indigestion and bloating. As a carminative herb, peppermint has the ability to expel gas from the stomach and intestines by relaxing the muscles involved. It has also been used to successfully treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It should not, however, be used for the treatment of Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) as it may further relax the muscles that prevent the backflow of stomach acid thus worsening the problem.
- Colds and Flu – Peppermint is a natural decongestant. One of the herb’s active ingredients is menthol, which thins mucus and will therefore loosen phlegm and reduce coughs. It is soothing to sore throats.
- Type II Diabetes – Test-tube results show that peppermint may aid in lowering blood sugar and may prove helpful to mild or pre-diabetic patients. This comes with a word of warning. When combined with medication, it may result in Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Blood Pressure – Results are similar to those of blood sugar and the same cautions apply.
It would be remiss if we failed to mention some concerns in health care of peppermint oils and extracts. Some of these include the following:
- Peppermint can make gallstones worse.
- Large doses of peppermint oil can be fatal and any amount used on the hands or face of an infant or toddler can cause breathing spasms that may result in death.
- While likely safe to use, no definitive studies have been done of peppermint’s effect on pregnancy.
- Lastly, NEVER take peppermint with an immunosuppressant.
As with all herbs, there can be unforeseen side effects or interactions with other supplements or medications and any regular use should be discussed with your health care provider.
Tips for Growing Mint
by Amy Johnson
Helpful tips for growing mint in your own garden.
Mint can hold it’s own in the culinary world, deservedly so. Just imagine no mint juleps or mint chocolate chip ice cream. That would be very sad. Very sad, indeed.
Growing mint in your garden is easy to do, although mint can be quite the booger, sending out runners underground to resurface yards away. Of all herbs in the garden, mint (along with Lemon Balm) is one of the hardiest, most prolific, aggressive overachiever of the bunch. It can be quite the pain if not planted correctly. I’ve pulled up yards and yards of mint rooster the years.
Here are a few areas it’s popped up several feet away from where it was originally planted.
Don’t let this be a discouragement from growing some of your own. There are ways to grow this helpful, tasty herb and not have it take over your whole neighborhood, so you can have a supply of mint ready at hand for that next batch of mint jelly. Unfortunately, I learned these tips the hard way, after it was already planted, thriving, and way out of control. So, please, learn from my mistakes.
The easiest way is to plant mint to control the spreading is to plant it in a large container with drainage holes that are covered with mesh, so it can drain but keep the roots from sneaking through the hole and overtaking the county.
Another way to manage the mint is to dig a hole the size you want your mint patch to be, about a foot or so deep, then line it with landscaping fabric, refill with soil, then plant the mint. Be sure to watch for feelers as they could still creep over the top edge of the landscape fabric, escaping the set boundary. Mint is sneaky, y’all.
When deciding on the perfect patch for the mint, look for well drained soil, but not too dry. Mint likes moisture and is happiest in partial shade. Certain varieties can handle full sun better than others. Too much shade will result in leggy mint. Which will still taste wonderful, but may not produce as many leaves as you’d like.
Tips for growing mint:
- Mint prefers partial shade. Full sun will do, but part shade is best.
- Choose a spot with moist but well drained soil. Mint prefers fertile soil with a pH from 6.0 to 7.0.
- Plant mint seedlings after frost about 18-24 inches apart.
- Mint can be grown from seed, plants, or even one of the fastidious runners/roots.
- Harvest tips regularly to keep plants in check and encourage best growth.
- For the best flavored mint with a strong scent, transplant your mint every 3-4 years.
There are many varieties of mint to choose from as well. Check out these varieties (information gleaned from Clemson Extension):
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is one of the easiest varieties to grow, and is the variety usually used in mint juleps and teas.
- Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is what you grow for that candy cane flavor.
- Ginger mint (Mentha x gentilis)
- Applemint (Mentha rotundifolia)
- Pineapple mint ( Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’)
- Corsican mint (Mentha corsica) is a dwarf variety.
Of course, I know where you can get some on the cheap – free even! I have this friend who is a mint farmer, and she…oh, who am I fooling. If you are ever in the area, I’d be happy to share some IF you promise to plant it in a container.
Originally posted June 7, 2011. Updated June 2, 2015.
Updated on June 4, 2015 by Amy Johnson