Growing Mint – How to Care For & harvest Your Mint Plant

Growing mint in the garden is very straightforward. It is easy to grow and emits a wonderful scent when you brush past it. It can be used in a variety of dishes including roast lamb and salads and goes well with freshly podded peas.

patch of mint growing in a herb garden
Mint is an aggressive grower – it’s best to take measures to contain it in your herb garden.

Mint is a hardy perennial and a voracious grower. It will do well in both sunny and shady parts of the garden. It will also thrive in pots; in fact if you have a small garden it is recommended that you grow mint in a pot to prevent it from spreading and taking over the other herbs.

Mint Varieties

There are three main varieties of mint that people grow in their herb gardens:

  • Pennyroyal mint – the most common type of mint.
  • Peppermint – with a distinct cool peppermint flavour.
  • Spearmint – traditionally used in mint sauces.

How to Grow Mint

Mint can be grown easily from seed, or young plants sold at garden centres. Mint is tolerant of almost all conditions, but it prefers a well-drained, fertile soil. However, mint enjoys a fair amount of moisture, so it will do better in a moderately shady position, where the soil won’t dry out as quickly as it would in a very sunny area.

Mint can also be propagated from its roots, or rhizomes. Simply take a piece of root and pot it up in a small container, keeping it well watered. Leaves should begin to sprout within a few weeks and the small plant can then be transplanted into the garden the following spring. As mint is such a strong grower it is advisable to grow it in a container to prevent its roots from spreading and potentially killing other plants. You can sink the container into the soil so it appears that the plant is part of the herb bed, however its roots will be contained so the plant will never be able to grow beyond the confines of the pot.

Caring for Mint

Mint requires little attention and will thrive in almost all conditions. However a mulch of bark or leaves will keep the plant happy; it will provide nutrients and lock in much-needed moisture for the roots. After the plant has started to flower the leaves will stop growing. It’s important therefore, to remove any flowers that appear to keep the plant producing leaves right up until autumn.

Dealing with Mint Pest and Diseases

Mint is not susceptible to a wide range of pests and diseases but can be affected by rust. This can be a deadly infection for mint plants. Mint rust is simple to deal with. Simply carry out the following steps to clear out the disease:-

  • If you notice orange blobs on the underside of your mint leaves remove the leaves immediately.
  • If many leaves are affected it’s best to chop the plant down to ground level and burn it. Fresh leaves should grow without infection the following spring.
  • Alternatively, remove the entire plant and start again (if you grew your pot in a container then remove the soil and clean the pot with a disinfectant before replanting).

Harvesting Mint

Harvesting mint is very straightforward. Simply cut the leaves when needed, using a pair of scissors. Cut from the top of the plant (this will encourage new stems to shoot out from the sides). Never remove all of the leaves from the plant; this will hamper its growth.

Growing Mint in Containers

Mint is particularly suited to container growing, and will grow happily in potting compost. Water the plant if the pot dries out and feed with an organic liquid plant food once a month during the growing season.

Mint is a delightful herb to grow in the garden and has many uses in the kitchen. It is easy to grow and returns every year to provide you with fresh leaves to add to new potatoes, fresh peas, and turn into a delicious mint sauce.

8 thoughts on “Growing Mint – How to Care For & harvest Your Mint Plant

  1. Jean says:

    You forgot all the designer types of mint that have been around a long time now – lemon mint, even chocolate mint (and yes, it really does smell like chocolate). The main problem with growing mint is really stopping it from spreading everywhere. For that reason alone, growing it in a container is the best option. If you don’t, you’ll find it can very easily take over your garden, and prove very hard to get rid of. Mint in a container will provide all you need for mint sauces and more.

  2. Karlbob says:

    My Mother has mint in a pot and it was flourishing, until she moved it next to a similar sized pot containing Coriander (Cilantro?) at which time the mint started to suffer badly and almost died off, but when the mint was then moved to another area with equal sun exposure it again flourished! I can’t find anything about this by googling. Is the coriander killing the mint? Or is it just coincidence or something else in the area likely causing these symptoms?

  3. Maimoona says:

    I have a problem in planting onions. I tried to regrow them with the cut pieces in pots covered with loose soil and I kept the soil damp but it didn’t work. What will be the best method for this. Pls advice.

  4. McKate1973 says:

    I’ve just gone into my communal garden to check on the progress of my mint which had just started to shoot up only to find the little boy next door has been out & butchered it with scissors chopping all the main stems to about an inch high. To say I’m upset would be an understatement. Will it recover this season??

  5. MBJ says:

    My mint in containers 3 have it seems got a disease. I am going to put new plants in after i have disgarded plants and soil and disinfected containers. Will it be alright to use ericacious compost as i have some for my blueberries i am also going to plant?

  6. Titus says:

    I’ve had a mint plant on my kitchen window sill for several years now. In addition to being a lovely addition to my Sunday potatoes, it adds a pleasant aroma to the room and, of course, is also a pretty looking plant. I have it in a rather large tub, and oh my it grows!

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