How to keep mint plants

Growing mint plants isn’t hard. As long as you make sure they get enough sunlight and water, you’re pretty much set. Since I don’t have green fingers but would love to grow my own veggies, I decided to start with a mint plant. It’s pretty hard to do anything wrong with this herb, but in the past I somehow always seemed to only be able to kill them. So I decided to dust myself off, do some research and start over. If you want to grow mint or just have one or two plants around to flavor your salads or make mojito’s (especially the latter I recommend :D), then by all means read on.

Important to know before you start

The first thing you need to know about mint is that there are many, many different kinds of mint. Most common to use in many recipes and salads is spearmint. This is – I think – what I have bought.
The second thing you need to know is that mint is grown best in a pot. This is because it is basically a weed and the roots will ‘choke’ other plants’ roots. So never put a mint plant and another plant in the same pot and preferably don’t put mint in the ground without anything to limit the spreading of the roots. If you want to join me on my journey of growing my own plants, go out and get yourself a mint plant, get one as full as possible.

Planting

When you buy a mint plant, or if your self-grown mint plants get bigger and need repotting, there are some things to take into consideration. First, make sure that you put the plant in a pot. If you want to put it in a flower bed or just straight into the ground, that’s also an option.
But, to do this, make sure that you put your plant in a (bottomless) bucket to limit the growth of the roots. This will give other plants around it a chance to grow. Always leave the rim above ground and make sure the bucket isn’t cracked, since the roots will always find a way out. Planting your mint in very moist conditions is the best, so it won’t dry out easily.

SpearmintSunlight

Put your plant outside or if you’re living in an apartment with no balcony, place it near a window. Make sure that in the mornings it gets lots of sunshine and in the afternoon partly sunshine, partly shade. Mint grows best in a warmer environment so make sure it’s
nice and warm, but don’t put it near any appliances that generate a lot of heat and dry out the air.

Watering

Especially during the first year, water your mint plant frequently. After that, the roots will be big and long enough to keep itself hydrated. Keep the soil of the plant moist, but not too wet. Also, if the soil is dry, water it immediately. If you live in a warm climate or your mint plant is in direct sunlight for a big part of the day, it speaks for itself that you need to water it more frequently. You could mix some water-retaining polymer into the soil for your plant. Spray a bit of water on the soil every now and then to keep it moist.

Trimming your mint plant

For a better harvest, cut of the top branches just a bit above the first few leaves when the plant gets too tall. You want the plant to grow sideways instead of upwards. These branches you could use in foods and drinks, or you can store them. Another option is to use them for growing new plants (more about all this later…).
From June to September is usually the time that the flowers of mint plants bloom. Trim these before they open. This will help to not let the plant grow wild. Try to remove the flower buds as soon as they appear to have a longer harvesting season.

Tips

  • If your mint plant gets really big, watch out for any branches hanging over the sides of the container. New, young branches can take root themselves, even if still connected to the plant.
  • Make it a habit to, whenever you’re working with the plant for whatever reason, look at the branches of the plant to see if it doesn’t get too big and always check if the plant needs water.
  • Mint plants don’t usually catch diseases, but rust might be something to be careful about. If it gets infected (orange-brown spots will appear underneath the leaves), treat your plant with a fungicide spray.
  • You also shouldn’t be too concerned about bugs, since they tend to not like the mint’s scent too much. But, if you do see some insects attacking your plant in an attempt to survive, you could wash these away under running water (garden hose) or wash your plant with some insecticidal soap. Don’t forget that under the leaves, is a place that bugs love to hide.
  • The leaves of the plant are at their best right before the plant starts flowering. So harvesting at that moment is recommended.
  • When it’s freezing outside, all the parts of the plant that are above ground will die. But, the roots won’t and they will start growing again in the spring. So if you keep your plants outside, make sure you harvest as many of the plant before frost sets in. Then protect the plant with some mulch and it should be fine for the winter.

Are you growing any mint plants? Share your tips in the comments below!
Happy planting!

 

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