Whether its peppermint, spearmint, or the popular chocolate mint, the perennial mint plant is loved the world over for its fragrance, nutritional value and medicinal benefits. Found in essential oils, teas, cold remedies, insect repellants, and breathe fresheners, mint is an incredibly versatile herb, bringing a host of benefits for anyone who cultivates it.
More importantly, growing mint is not at all difficult. However, if you want them to thrive enough to be of use, you’ll need to remember a few things. So, I’ve made this handy checklist for you. Let’s start with the most important question: how often to water mint?
Here’s the short answer: water your mint plants often enough that their soil is always moist. For most people, watering 3 to 4 times a week may be sufficient for perpetually moist soil.
However, your particular soil condition and local climate may require you to water less or more. The keyword here is “moist” and not “soaked.” Remember that overwatering can lead to root rot and a drowned plant.
The Finger Test
Some plants will quickly show signs of dehydration, and you may see some of these symptoms on your mint. However, this method may either be misleading in the case of mint plants or worse; it might be too late. Thus, it’s best to use to finger test to check for moisture.
Stick a finger in about an inch or two of soil. If the soil feels cool, then your mint is hydrated. On the other hand, soil that feels warm and dry is in dire need of watering.
It may take some trial and error at first, especially for novice gardeners, to get used to the routine of checking and keeping soil adequately moist. However, the garden skills you’ll learn here will be invaluable.
Besides regular watering, you need to remember three other crucial points if you want your Mint plants to grow and thrive. They’re the three S’s: Soil, Sun, and Space.
The soil you plant your mint in plays a crucial role in watering. Thankfully, mint plants are not finicky when it comes to the type of soil. What’s most important is the soil’s drainage, water retention ability, and pH levels. Ideally, use light soil with good drainage and a pH ranging from 6 to 7.5. Proper pH levels directly influence mint yields so keeping a handy Soil Test kit with your garden tools is essential.
If you live in a hot and dry climate, a light mulch can help keep the soil moist and the leaves clean, as well as a deterrent against weeds and pests.
Mint loves sun. Yes, they can tolerate some shade and I’ve had happy mint plants getting just under 6 hours of direct sunlight. Nevertheless, try to find a sunny spot so they get as much light as possible.
Space when cultivating mint refers to two things: where you plant and the conditions of the soil.
When properly nurtured and cultivated, mint plants quickly become prolific both in its foliage and roots. Hence, you’ll only ever need one or two mint plants. Of course, the wonderful aroma mint plants give off may move you to plant more. When you’re growing two or more, keep them about two feet apart so they’ll have enough space for both vertical and horizontal growth (fuller leaves too!).
If grown in a garden with other plants, you can contain aggressive root spread by using natural soil barriers. Plan ahead by burying a mesh bag or container into the soil where you’ll be growing mint. Make sure to leave a little of the container peeking out of the soil so any growth, on the soil or underground, can be controlled.
Speaking of leaves, mint plants also benefit from regular pruning and harvesting much like basil. Even if you have enough mint in store, remember to pick and prune from time to time to time encourage. Beneficial pruning also includes picking or cutting flower any flower spikes, which will further extend harvesting time.
If you plan to grow indoors or in separate pots, you can check our article on growing herbs in pots for more tips.
More Mentha Tips!
Besides being the thirsty little herbs that they are, mint plants also love liquid fertilizer. Feed them once or twice a week with a fertilizer like this Pour and Feed Plant Food from Miracle-Gro. Regular feeding is a guaranteed way to get full and bushy mint plants. Just be ready to address the aggressive growth!
Propagating mint plants are as easy as growing them. Mint cuttings will quickly take root in water or soil. Meanwhile, you can also divide a mature mint plant, at least two-months old, and plant in another location or pot. These will make great gifts or temporary fixtures in rooms where the plant’s fragrance will be appreciated.
Don’t underestimate mint plants. Due to their easy maintenance and fast-growing nature, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re growing and propagating mint. However, mature mint plants, when left unchecked, can be invasive. They can quickly take over the surrounding soil. When you’re growing them next to your fence, stray rhizomes can easily spread to your neighbor’s garden without you even noticing! Be a responsible gardener by keeping control all your plants, especially aggressive growers.
Mint plants are definitely a minimum-input-maximum-output type of herb. They grow fast, require little maintenance, greet you with their refreshing fragrance. Just remember to water mint enough to keep their soil moist and you’ll be harvesting all year long. Grow them from seed today!
Mentha × piperita f. citrata Chocolate': http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a246
Peppermint and Its Functionality: A Review - Masomeh, Narges, et al : http://www.acmicrob.com/microbiology/peppermint-and-its-functionality-a-review.php?aid=19955
12 USES FOR MINT LEAVES FROM HEALTH TO HOME - Margaret Boyles : https://www.almanac.com/news/natural-health-home-tips/benefits-of-mint-plant
Variation in the Amount of Yield and in the Extract Composition Between Conventionally Produced and Micropropagated Peppermint and Spearmint -Aflatuni, Abbas; Uusitalo, J.; Ek, S.; Hohtola, A. Journal of Essential Oil Research: https://web.archive.org/web/20070617160248/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4091/is_200501/ai_n9474312