One herb that is a must for any garden is mint. A fantastic herb that grows in many conditions, and provides many benefits.
Mint is a very versatile plant that can be used for a variety of different reasons. You can use it as a spice on several different types of food, you can make tea or other drinks out of it, and it can be used as a remedy for headaches and stress.
Growing mint isn’t particularly hard either since it’s a very sturdy plant that can survive very well. However, it can be quite invasive as well. If you want to grow mint, you should do it in a way that lets you restrict its growth.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the steps you need to follow in order to grow mint at home, for yourself.
Details for Growing Mint
March, April, May
Early July to late October
Temperature to Plant
Can thrive on lower temperatures
3 inches – seeds 1/4 inch
Direct sunlight or slightly shady
Moist, but well-drained
6.0 – 7.0
Potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin A. Can relieve headaches, stress, and anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Seven Steps to Growing Mint
The native habitat of mint plants is along stream banks. For this reason, it’s best to plant them in a moist, but on a well-drained site. If the drainage is right, any average soil will be good for growing the plant.
Soil pH Testing
You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance. This Apera kit has ±0.1 pH accuracy, see the star ratings over at Amazon.
Companion Plants for Mint
Do keep in mind that mint likes to spread quite a lot, so you should choose a location where you can keep an eye out on its spreading. Tomatoes, cabbages, peas, and eggplants are all good companion plants for mint. The plant can tolerate slight shade, but you should choose a location where it will receive full sunlight. Mint is resilient, but you should still try to give it the best possible conditions.
While it’s usually much easier to grow mint from seedlings or small plants, you can – of course – start from seeds as well. If growing indoors, sow the seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost, or in April/May.
The best way to germinate your seeds so that they have a great start is with a germination kit. Seeds that are grown this way produce greater results. Check the specs of the MXIC over at Amazon.
Make sure to put the plants near windows, where they will get the most possible sunlight. They should be ¼” deep in moist soil. The seeds will typically start sprouting in 10-16 days, but bottom heat can speed the process up. If grown outdoors, be sure to space them out 2 feet apart from each other.
Planting should be done right after the last frost. The roots should be just below the soil. If using pots, be sure that they are at least 12 inches wide, but you should aim for one that is 16 inches wide. It’s best if you don’t plant anything else in this pot other than the mint. Put it in an area where it will get lots of sunlight. If planting outside in the garden, search for a damp area with lots of sunlight.
Soil pH Level
The soil pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for the best results. Placing some mulch around the roots and using a bit of fertilizer on the plant every few weeks will help it grow.
Watering your mint is very important, especially in the first year. Be sure to water the plant frequently. The soil should be damp, but not soaked. Too much water will hurt the mint just as much as any other plant. If it’s in an area with lots of sunlight, water it more frequently.
Check the soil with your fingers and be sure that it’s not too wet. You should try to find a balance when watering the mint. The plant will grow best in evenly moist soil. If the mint is outside, be sure to not let it spread too far out.
Mint doesn’t need too much care compared to other plants. If you water it right, it should start growing pretty fast. Trim the top of the plant to make sure your harvest will be better, and to contain the plant’s height. After a while, you should see flower buds appearing.
Trimming the Flowers
Mint flowers bloom from June to September. You should cut the buds off before they get a chance to bloom. This ensures that the plant doesn’t grow out of control, and it will result in a better harvest as well.
Separate Mature Mint Plants
If you plan on growing mint for several years, and you’re using a pot, be sure to split the plant every 2 or 3 years, so the roots won’t get cramped.
Diseases to Watch For
Lastly, be sure to look out for any pests and diseases that may affect your plant. Mint isn’t susceptible to many diseases, but you should keep an eye out for signs of Rust, verticillium wilt, and mint anthracnose. Some pests like spider mites and flea beetles can also cause trouble.
You can start harvesting your mint as soon as late spring. You should only harvest 1/3 of the leaves, not more. After that, the plant should be allowed to regrow its leaves for a while. If you’re growing your mint out in the garden, you should aim to harvest as much as you can before the winter. The roots will survive, and the plant will regrow next year.
Pinching Mint Stems
Harvesting the leaves should be done by pinching off the stems. In the case of larger harvests (right before winter), you can cut the plant above the first or second set of leaves. You will have larger harvests about three times each year.
Young leaves have better flavor than old ones, but you can – of course – store mint for long periods of time as well. You can freeze or air-dry them in bunches.
The leaves should be stored in an airtight container until you decide to use them. If you only want to store them for a few days, you can simply put them in a container full of water, like you would with flowers. Put a plastic bag around it, change the water every few days and store it in your fridge. You can also try wrapping them in a damp paper towel. Put it in a plastic bag and – just like the method above – store it in your fridge.
One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing. The best one on the market is the Excalibur with a 10 year guarantee, see it at Amazon.
If you harvest a great yield, try freezing the mint leaves. Use an ice cube tray, put a few leaves in one space and cover with water – allowing for months of use.
I hope this article helped you find out how to grow mint. It’s a relatively easy plant to take care of, and it has lots of uses that make it worthwhile. Just make sure that you don’t let it spread too much. Thank you for reading, and have fun growing your own mint at home!