Mint plants are incredibly easy to grow. Some might say a little too easy to grow thanks to their ability to spread quickly. Learn everything you need to know about growing mint in a hassle-free way so that you can enjoy the benefits of this perennial herb.
Mint. It’s one of my favorite things to eat!
However, growing it has been…an acquired taste. I think one of the first things that people learn about growing mint is its legendary ability to take over any space where it grows.
Trust me, the reputation is deserved!
When we moved into our house, the previous owner had some mint growing in a flower bed with no borders. The flower bed literally bumped up to the grass. And, I am not kidding when I say that the mint had completely taken over.
It was suffocating all the other plants in the flower bed, and it was also growing several feet out into the grass. If that wasn’t enough, it had even spread into a neighboring flower bed and was working quickly to suffocate those plants.
HOw Mint Grows: A Bad Reputation
Mint has a tendency to take over a garden bed. There’s no getting around the fact that’s how mint grows. Unfortunately, that’s led to mint having a bad reputation, and many gardeners avoid growing it altogether.
If we take that reputation and flip it around to look at it from another angle, mint is easy to grow and vigorous in nature. That’s why it can even “take over” in the first place!
That particular quality actually makes growing mint perfect for gardeners who don’t have green thumbs. And, there are several other reasons to grow (and enjoy!) mint!
Benefits of Mint
Mint is an extremely beneficial herb. Not only does it taste amazing but you can use it for many other great benefits, including:
- Calming an upset stomach and aiding digestion.
- Breath freshener.
- Relieving headaches.
- Soothing seasonal allergies.
- Energizing and mood uplifting.
Fun Facts About Mint Plants
When you know how to grow mint plants in ways that play to their strengths, you’ll realize that these vigorous plants are well worth the effort and planning.
Here are some of my favorite things about growing mint:
- This hearty herb is an ideal plant for anyone with a brown thumb to grow. Just make sure that it doesn’t completely dry out, and the plant will do the rest on its own!
- You can be aggressive with mint without fear of hurting the plants. It truly can take the abuse.
- While the plants may prefer growing in full sun, they will grow just fine in the shade (and may not spread quite as fast!).
- Mint can be difficult to grow from seeds, but it’s super easy to grow from plant cuttings. Simply cut away part of the plant and put it in water until roots appear. Then plant it where you want it. Try this and give small plants as gifts for a gift that truly keeps giving!
- Mint attracts beneficial insects (bees, wasps, hoverflies) while also repelling bad insects (mosquitoes, houseflies, ants, aphids, fleas, and cabbage moths).
- It’s healthy for pets in small doses and acts as a natural flea repellent – yay! Fun fact: catnip is actually part of the mint family.
Growing Mint: How To Do It Frustration-Free
I have learned, over time, to work with plants and their strengths rather than bucking against them. That’s why it’s essential to learn about the plants you want to grow!
Once you know how mint grows, you can take steps to allow mint plants to flourish as they are without becoming a headache in the garden.
Mint itself is a beautiful, fragrant green herb with toothed leaves and very small flowers that can be white, pink, or purple. It makes a beautiful and beneficial addition to any garden, as long as you know how to manage it appropriately.
Fact: While mint plants can spread faster than we might want them to, it takes time for it to actually happen. Here’s what you need to know for growing mint in a frustration-free way!
Mint Plants Growing Needs
Mint is a perennial herb in the Mentha genus of the Lamiaceae family. Learning how to grow mint takes very little effort thanks to its vigorous nature (see the positive spin there?). Mint plants really only need:
- When to plant: Plant directly into the ground after the last frost.
- Light: Full sun to part shade.
- Soil: Fertile, well-draining soil, ideally with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
- Fertilizing: Generally, fertilizer isn’t needed, but if you want even more vigorous growth, use basic plant food.
- Watering: Keep soil moist but not soggy.
- Spacing: Space plants 18-24 inches apart and plant them in containers if possible to keep them from spreading. If you want to add mint plants to your garden bed, you can even plant containers into the ground to prevent spreading.
Ideal Growing Locations
Don’t bother playing a constant game matching will against will with your mint plants because unless you’re willing to regularly thin out your mint plant crop, you’ll likely lose.
Instead, work with the natural tendencies of the plants by growing mint in locations suited for its strengths:
- As an indoor herb.
- In an empty or neglected area of your yard.
- In a high traffic area.
- As part of the rocky herb garden.
- In raised garden beds – it will spread through the bed, but stay contained to it without “jumping” out.
- Containers – these can be above ground or even planted into the ground!
- With other herbs that can keep up with it such as thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary.
Keeping Mint Plants Healthy
Mentha plants are generally low maintenance and are considered to be rabbit, deer, and rodent resistant. However, as with any plant, there are a few things to keep an eye out for in order to keep your mint plants healthy and happy.
Mint plants naturally deter many insects, but keep an eye out for aphids and spider mites. You can reduce the population of these insects by simply blasting your mint plants with a strong jet of water on a regular basis.
Don’t worry- Your mint plants can handle the abuse!
Mint plants can be susceptible to 3 different fungal diseases. If you notice indications of any of these, the best course of treatment is to remove the affected plants in order to prevent spreading.
- Mint rust – orange, brown, or yellow pustules on the undersides of leaves.
- Powdery mildew – white fuzzy dusting on the tops of leaves.
- Anthracnose – small spots that continue to get larger until the leaves fall off.
Harvesting mint is a super simple task. If you want to use just a little mint, simply pinch off a couple of stems at a time!
If you want to harvest a large amount of mint, cut off the whole plant just above the second set of leaves. Don’t worry about killing your plant, because it’ll come back even bushier! You can safely harvest a large amount like this 2-3 times per season.
I recommend harvesting your mint just before the plant flowers, as that’s when the flavor and aroma are at their peak.
Storing And Preserving Mint
Mint is best enjoyed fresh, but you can also dry it or freeze it to store it all year.
When storing fresh mint, rinse off your leaves and dry them thoroughly. Then, put them in a container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
If you want to dry your leaves, rinse and dry a bunch of stems and tie them together. Hang them upside down for 1-2 weeks. Once the leaves are dried, remove them from the stems and store them in a container in a cupboard until you’re ready to use them. You could also use your dehydrator on the lowest setting to dry your mint plants.
Want to freeze your mint leaves?
Rinse and dry your leaves then remove them from the stems! Coarsely chop them up and put a pinch or two into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Add water and freeze.
You can add the ice cubes to soups, drinks, or smoothies!
All The Different Ways To Use Mint Plants
Mint can be used in a variety of ways, which makes it extremely versatile and beneficial. Try using your mint plants in all these different ways!
Using mint as an herb in food and drink recipes is one of the most common ways to use this aromatic herb.
Try adding mint to:
- Desserts such as brownies, cookies, and cakes (it looks amazing as a garnish on chocolate!).
- Beverages such as smoothies, infused water, lemonade, punch, teas, and adult beverages.
- Mint pesto.
- Infused honey.
- Mint extract.
- Jams and sauces.
- And more!
Fragrant mint is energizing and uplifting. Add it to candles, sprays, potpourri, or your diffuser to help energize you when you’re feeling sluggish.
DIY Bath And Beauty Products
Mint can be added to many DIY body care products such as:
- Lip balms.
- Sugar scrubs.
- Bath bombs.
Mint blends exceptionally well with rosemary in body products to create a luxury scent.
The sweet soothing fragrance and potent properties of mint make it ideal for use in herbal remedies to help with all areas of life. Use it in:
- Air Fresheners.
- Essential oils.
- Mosquito repellents.
I hope that after reading this post, you realize that the benefits of growing mint outweigh its bad reputation for being a super spreader. Give growing mint a try and see for yourself just how amazing this fragrant herb is!