Tips to Grow Healthy Mint

Tips to Grow Healthy Mint
Mint Varieties

Can you grow mint plants from seeds?

Mint Seeds

Why is it a bad idea to plant mint in the ground?

Now you might feel tempted to grow mint in the ground but let me warn you that mint is a very aggressive plant. It not only creeps on the ground but the runners also grow underground and soon you will notice mint plants taking all of your raised bed or part of the garden. Just like grass, mint is easy to start but very tough to control and remove. So avoid growing it in the bed with other plants unless you want to grow only mint and nothing else.

When to Start Mint Plants?

The best time to start mint plants is early spring or late winter. Mint is quite a frost tolerant plant. It may appear to die during winter but usually comes back in spring as soon as the temperature starts rising up. It is hardy in zones 3–8 unless the weather takes an unexpected turn and you have an unusually extreme winter. But even if you lose your plants, no worries as you can easily grow them from cuttings.

Growing temperature for mint

Mint likes cooler temperatures and grows the best in a temperate climate. The optimal temperature is between 55–70 °F.

Growing mint from cuttings

Peppermint Cuttings

Soil for Mint

Why mint growth slows down?

You might notice that after about 2–3 months mint stops growing like it was growing when newly planted. What you should do at this time is take the plant out and check the roots. Roots quickly fill up the pot and use all the nutrition. I take the plant out once it is time for repotting, trim the roots considerably. Then I either repot the plant in new soil or amend the soil by adding fertilizer and compost to the existing soil and repot. Or, you can divide the root ball and grow some more plants. So space is also very important for mint plants.

Fertilizers for Mint

Pruning and Snipping mint Plants

Like basil, you need to keep snipping off the ends to make the plant look fuller and well-shaped. Otherwise, the runners will start falling down from the pot. The leaves of mint are perfectly placed opposite each other in pairs. This alternate arrangement gives the plant a very neat symmetrical look. The leaves contain volatile oils that give mint that special medicinal aroma. Chewing mint leaves gives a cold sensation because mint oil contains menthol. The upward stems grow up to 1 to 1 ½ foot tall.

Sun Requirements and Ways to Delay Bolting

In about 3–4 months or as summer approaches the stems start growing more upwards and they produce flowers. The leaves become smaller. This is called bolting. To delay the bolting, you can move the plant in a semi-shade location or under some tree to keep it cool during the summertime. That way you can harvest those big leaves for a longer time. Once the plant bolts, the leaves become smaller like this basil is doing now. Mint flowers are a group of flowers in a spike-like structure. They are also very fragrant and are treats for pollinators. Bees and butterflies do not leave these plants alone.

Pests on Mint

Now you might think that because mint smells so strong, it shouldn’t get any pests but you know what a number of pests attack mint. I remember one year, slugs also infested my mint plants that were growing in the ground. Putting mint in the ground was a mistake and I didn’t know it back then. Other than slugs, there are aphids, some caterpillars, nematodes, mealybugs, whiteflies, and spider mites. Mint also gets fungal and viral infections. Keep the soil clean, remove the dead and infected leaves regularly and try to invite beneficial insects in your garden instead of using pesticides frequently, even the organic ones. Remember we don’t want to kill the good insects. Usually, I do not rush to apply any pesticides because beneficial insects follow the pests and that is how I see different types of insects in my backyard.

Harvesting Mint Leaves

Harvesting mint leaves. You can pinch off the new tops or prune the stems regularly as you need the leaves. New leaves will keep growing.

Health Benefits of Mint

Mint Chocolate
  • Mint oil is also a traditional remedy and used for relieving body pains and also stomach pain due to colic.
  • Mint is believed to improve digestion. And mint leaves are used in many summer drinks and chutneys.
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Mint leaves are part of the Indian chai masala. Both fresh and dried leaves are used to flavor Indian-style tea.
  • Natural mouth freshener. Chew on mint leaves and you don’t need the store-bought mouth fresheners. They contain menthol.

I’m a gardener for whom gardening is not just a hobby now but has become an integral part of my life. I would like to share with you all the beauty of gardening

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