How to Grow Mint Like an Expert

Updated on July 18, 2020
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.

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Who Wants to Grow Mint?

Cooks, gardeners, and herbalists love to grow mint. There are roughly twenty species and some, like spearmint and peppermint, are popular in the kitchen. While most people use mint as a garnish or a cooking ingredient, others treat the herb as a remedy.

What is Mint Used For?

Anyone who has ever tasted mutton with mint jelly will understand why this herb is a must in the kitchen. As an ingredient, it can be used fresh, dried, or as an infusion. The flavour has a solid following in the world of ice-cream, chocolate, and middle eastern dishes.

Those who use mint as a remedy will pick the leaves if they feel an upset tummy, indigestion, or to relieve the symptoms of IBS, promote muscle relaxation, and to fight inflammation and allergies. Some even swear by mint’s power to reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

Just a word of caution. Mint and its essential oil should be used carefully and in some cases, not at all. Please visit the end of the article for the necessary precautions.

Can I Grow Mint at Home?

Yes, you can grow mint at home and it’s very easy. Well, maybe a little too easy. Mint is notorious for taking over the garden when planted outside. Unless you dream of living in a mint-scented jungle, then you best grow this herb in a container. To propagate mint you can take stem cuttings or root cuttings.

How to Grow Mint From Cuttings

To grow mint from cuttings, you need the barest of tools (you probably already have everything you need). You also need to stock up on patience because the cuttings will take a few weeks to grow. Here are the steps to nurture your own bunch of overactive mint babies. You’ve been warned. Muahahaha.

  1. Wait until spring.

  2. Gather sharp scissors and a clear drinking glass.

  3. Clean the scissors and glass.

  4. Aim to take cuttings that measure 8cm (3.14 in).

  5. Take the cuttings from the top growth of the plant.

  6. Cut below any node where leaves emerge.

  7. Remove all the lower leaves from the cuttings.

  8. Place the cuttings in the glass.

  9. Fill with enough water to cover about half the lower stems.

  10. Place in an airy, sunny spot like a window sill.

  11. Replace the water every three days.

  12. The stems will root in a few weeks.

  13. Wait until each develops a proper root system.

  14. Plant your cuttings in pots filled with a good compost (peat-free).

  15. Keep the pots inside for a week to help them to settle.

  16. Keep the soil moist.

  17. Once settled, you can transfer the pots to their outdoors location.

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How to Grow Mint From Root Cuttings

Growing mint from root cuttings is harder but it allows you to propagate your mint plant in autumn and winter. The plant is mostly dormant during this time, which is perfect for taking root cuttings.

  1. Gather a sharp knife, a pot, agricultural grit, and good compost.

  2. Fill the pot with compost.

  3. Gently uproot your mint plant.

  4. Pick the healthiest roots.

  5. Cut them off near the crown of the mint plant.

  6. Ideally, the cuttings should measure between 5 and 10 cm (1.9 to 3.9 in).

  7. Press the cuttings into the compost but keep them horizontal.

  8. Cover them with a fine layer of grit.

  9. Water them gently to avoid washing away the grit.

  10. New leaves might appear a month later.

  11. Wait several more weeks to allow the seedlings, or rootlings rather, to grow stronger.

  12. Once strong enough, separate the rootlings and plant them in separate pots.

Can I Grow Mint From Seeds?

Yes, you can grow mint from seeds. This bonus option of growing mint is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to cut their mint plant or they prefer to watch the miracle of sprouting seeds. True to mint’s nature, the little pips are easy to grow. Here’s how to cultivate your mint seeds.

  1. Wait until spring.

  2. Gather your seed, compost, and trays.

  3. Fill the seed trays or a large pot with compost.

  4. Plant the seeds at a depth of roughly 0.5 cm (a quarter-inch).

  5. Fill the holes.

  6. Mist until the soil is moist but not soggy.

  7. Keep the trays in a warm, sunny area.

  8. Mist when the soil seems dry.

  9. The seedlings will erupt between 10 and 15 days.

  10. Care for them until they have two sets of leaves.

  11. Plant them in larger containers.

  12. Allow them to settle for a week indoors.

  13. Move them outdoors to their final destination.

How to Take Care of Your Mint Plant

Taking care of your mint plant is easy. It will flourish in partial shade or full sun, moist soil, and a dose of slow-release fertilizer each spring. But it’s also important to pinch your mint. This is not to be mean, of course, but to keep the mint’s vigorous growth in check. So when you spot unwanted runners, remove them. To preserve the taste of the leaves, it’s also necessary to pinch the tips of the plant regularly as well as the flowers. During winter, the mint plant must also be moved to a sheltered area or taken indoors.

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Managing Mint-Loving Pests

The ghouls that stalk mint plants include insects, arachnids, and a fungal disease. The latter is called mint rust and causes the plant to look dusty, discoloured, and distorted. Since this is a contagious disease, the mint will catch it from other plants. The best course of action is to remove the sick plants and keep an eye on their neighbours for any sign of rust.

The insects include aphids, cutworms, and thrips. If their numbers are few, you can simply prune away the infested branches. Large infestations must be dealt with by using an organic insecticide or removal of the plants entirely. The arachnid that loves mint most is the two-spotted spider mite. They can be dealt with in the same way as the insects.

Precautions When Using Mint

The mint family includes a few evil cousins that nobody should consume, like perilla mint and pennyroyal. But even the friendly versions, like spearmint and peppermint, have their grouchy moments. Please take the necessary care if any of the following contraindications apply to you.

  • Pregnancy.

  • Breastfeeding.

  • Stomach ailments.

  • Diarrhea.

  • If you’re taking Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).

  • If you’re using Valium.

  • Any medication that undergoes a change once it passes through the liver.

  • Never use mint essential oil if you’re epileptic. The oil can trigger seizures.

A Quick Summary

Mint is a lovely garden and pot plant. Besides being blessed with good looks, the green leaves represent a cornerstone in the culinary world and the medicine cabinet. Mint must be one of the easiest plants to grow and if you’re not careful, this herb’s zest for life will consume the entire garden. While mint is generally safe in small doses, care must be shown by individuals with digestive and neurological problems, as well as those who are using medication.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jana Louise Smit

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    • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

      Jana Louise Smit 

      2 weeks ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Danny. I'm very happy that you enjoyed the article. :)

    • Danny Fernandes profile image

      Danny 

      3 weeks ago from India

      Wonderful tips.

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