Growing Mint in Containers- Best method
The perfect herb for beginners or anyone who just loves mint! Mint also referred to as Mentha, is a vigorous perennial herb that loves to spread its roots and can be an incredibly invasive herb. Growing mint in containers is the best method I have found for containing their vigor and you can use this method indoors or outdoors.
For indoor herb gardens, the mint family is a must-have. With a versatile pallet of flavors that stem from the vast varieties available. They work in many recipes throughout every meal of the day and classically in drinks such as tea and infused water.
Mint has also long been praised for its benefits in aiding digestion and easing nausea. It also naturally freshens breathe and is commonly used in the flavoring of tubes of toothpaste, chewing gum, and mouthwashes. The list of alternative uses of mint and its benefits is extensive and just adds another useful characteristic to this plants place in the garden.
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Growing Mint in Containers – Picking a Container
Ideally, any planting container that you choose to grow in should have some type of drainage holes for excess water to seep out. If you are careful with your watering or selective in your plant type, you can take some leniency there.
Mint is one of those plant where there is a little give and take when it comes to drainage holes. Mint likes its soil to remain a little damp.
Your planting container, if it does not have holes in the bottom, needs to be monitored closing when watering. Water slowly and only until the soil looks evenly moist. Never allow water to rush on to the soil too quickly or become swampy looking.
Drainage holes in the potting container allow for a cleaner more fail-proof method of watering. A simple hole can cause a way for the water to escape when an accidental over-watering has occurred. In addition, when set on a saucer with pebbles or flat glass beads it will allow for natural humidity to take place for your plants.
Mint planting containers should be at least 8 inches or more diameter and 10 inches deep. A square pot should be at least 6” and the same depth. Rectangle style box planters can be used but be sure to keep it mint only. Mint tends to overtake other plants in the same container. It may work for a short time for eventually, the mint will rule the container.
→ Mint loves hydroponics and aquaponics. If you are interested in growing mint with these soil-less methods, you can explore a few articles on site related to these methods. This is a unique way to keep the trailing runner spread of the mint under control as well. Read Hydroponics Herb Gardens – Soil-less Growing here and for a comparison of the two growing methods you can learn more here The Difference Between Hydroponics and Aquaponics.
Grow Mint Indoors
Containers are the best method, how about growing indoors?
Mint grows wonderfully indoors. It likes the consistent temperatures and as a perennial will have continued long-term endurance. A well-trimmed mint plant can grow happily for a few years indoors. Stems can get woody if allowed to grow for too long.
Keep your mint from flowering will keep the taste of the mint fresh and youthful. I like to keep mint growth trimmed when it reaches heights a max height of 10 inches. This will ensure new young branches are always forming.
If your plant happens to begin to set flowers cut it down low to just a few sets of leaf nodes at the base of the soil and allow it to regrow.
I repot my mint every year to give a fresh mix and allow for healthy root growth. This keeps the soil healthy and full nutrients. Mint does not require a lot of fertilizer, so repotting helps to replenish what has been used by the plant. You can also add worm compost every 3 to 4 months lightly to the top of the soil for added nutrients.
An awesome potting soil for herbs especially mints is the Foxfarm Ocean forest Organic. It is super rich and holds the right amount of moisture very well. It works well with most herbs and plants, but my mint plants never looked better after switching to this one. You can read a complete review and decide for yourself. ⇒ Best Organic Potting Soil – Fox Farm Ocean Forest Review ⇐
Indoor spaces can offer ideal spaces for mint in terms of lighting as well. Mint does not require a lot of direct sunlight and will grow very well in low-light conditions. Rotate the mint to keep even growth to keep the plant from growing towards a light source.
Mint Plant Species Identification and Varieties
The mint family of plants is easily identifiable by its almost perfectly square shaped stems. It is a unique feature to plants of the mint species. Leaves of different varieties of mint can vary from smooth and bright to variegated, crinkled and fussy.
A good tip for identifying mint is to do a scent test. Roll the leaves of the plant between your fingers and give it a sniff. Mints have a scent of freshness that is sweet and pungent. Most everyone is familiar with the aroma of traditional mints but some carry hints of other fragrance attachments.
Peppermint: A longer leafed variety of mint. The leaves are flat, mostly smooth and clearly veined. They have the distinct scent that one can associate with candy canes or after dinner mints. The taste is cool and fresh and leaves a lingering tingle on the tongue.
Spearmint: The leaves are very vibrant green and rough textured and crinkled. The edges of the leaf are slightly spikey with more distinct edge points, but the end of the leaf is rounded. The scent is cooler than other mints, lighter with more zip. The taste is greener without the sweet. It numbs the tongue and leaves lasting blasts of freshness.
Orange Mint: Smoothed leafed variety with a slight dome shape. The leaves are shorter than peppermint and stouter. It has a very symmetrical shape and lighter vein markings. The smell is slightly floral with hints of citrus and still the undertone of the mint. I think the taste is more like a lemon with a slight bitter tart versus that of the orange but when added to something sweet the orange essence comes through with the mint.
Chocolate Mint: Looks very much like peppermint with just slightly shorter leaves. The stems are usually giveaway with a darker ore defined “chocolatey” colored markings. The chocolate mint is sweet. You can smell it when you crush it in your fingers. You can also taste the sweetness of this mint on your tongue. I can not say it tastes like chocolate, but it tastes great in chocolate desserts or treats of any kind. Pictured in the image above.
Licorice Mint: Also known as Anise hyssop, is a tall variety of mint. It has large semi-smooth heart-shaped leaves with ridged pointed edges. The tips of the leaves come to a distinct point. The licorice mint has an anise-like flavor and smell. Its scent is very strong and often does not even requiring picking to smell it. A slight brushing and you will get its scent. Often grown for potpourri with its highly scented plentiful purple flower spikes. The leaves are tasty though and work well in salads and strong herbal teas. This is a tall variety and does well outdoors. It is also less invasive than other varieties of mints.
Apple Mint: Fuzzy leafed mint, has tiny little fuss covering the leaves and stems. Like the name suggests it has a fruity aroma that can easily be associated with apples. Its flavor is less minty than other varieties and has a sweet mild ting to it. This delicate mint works best in drinks and as an uncooked herb addition. I find it works great when making jellies and preserves for canning as well.
Pineapple mint: This is a very unique looking variety of mint. The leaves are smaller, crinkled and the green edges are spotted in white. This variety is also fuzzy leafed and stemmed. The pineapple mint has a strong sweet tropical fruit smell much like it name implies. The taste is fruity and minty all at the same time. I think it offers the best of the sweet and mint combined. It is also one of the prettiest to grow I think.
There are more mint varieties than these 7, but these are the main and most common varieties that are grown for herbal gardens. For a larger look at the mint species and mentha classification, you can view an article here on Wikipedia.
Growing Mint Cuttings
This is the easiest way to start mint plants for your own herb garden. Cuttings are clippings you take from already developed plants to create new plants.
This propagation method is used for many varieties of plants and herbs and is particularly useful when it comes to planting herbs. Mints root very well in water and form strong healthy roots for growing.
Steps to grow mint from cuttings:
- Take cuttings from the top growth of a healthy mint plant that is stout and unflowered. Thinner stems will take much longer to root so try to pick stems that have a nice thick meatiness to them. The cutting should be 3 to 4 inches or more in length.
- Remove the lower leaves from the cutting leaving only the uppermost 2 to 3 sets.
- Trim the cutting end so the cut is just below the lowest leaf node. This is the point where the last leaves merged with the stem of the mint.
- Place the stems in a glass of water and place indirect light until roots have formed. You may need to change the water on occasion to prevent algae from growing.
- The stems should begin to form roots within a couple weeks. You will allow these roots to develop until they reach a few inches in length and have a few offshoots.
- Transfer the rooted cutting into a container with a rich heavy in compost potting soil. Mint needs less drainage so soil heavy in peat is not required for these herbs.
- Gently firm the potting mix around your cuttings and keep equally moist not sopping as your mint becomes established.
Root cuttings are another alternative for large mint plants or dormant plants from outdoors. I have attached a great video that displays both methods of growing mint from cuttings.
Mint from Seed
If cuttings are not available growing mint from seed is a viable option to get mint growing in your herb garden. It also offers you the options to get different varieties you may not otherwise have available to you in your area.
An important note is that some varieties that are hybrid types cannot be grown from saved seed. Hybrid varieties do not grow true to form. Saved seeds may grow true to one of the parents but rarely to the hybrid type of the original seed form.
Tips for seed Germination:
In general, it takes 12 to 16 days for mint seeds to germinate. Mint prefers a compost rich potting soil that holds moisture well without staying overly saturated versus typical well-draining soil.
Starting mint seeds, I have found that bio sponges or similar work much better than soil to get them to germinate. Traditional soil planting can be used but the moisture retained in the sponge environment aids in a speedier germination time.
If you have never tried a bio sponge dome seed starter it is an amazing way to get your seeds started. It not only works great with mint seeds but any seeds you want to grow. The surface requirements of mint seeds work great in these domes but other seeds can be placed inside the sponge-like material as well.
Check it out here ⇒ Park Seed Park’s Original Bio Dome 60 Cell Seed Starter ⇐ to try this great product for yourself.
Mint seeds need light to germinate so they do not get buried in the planting medium but rather laid on top of the soil and gently pressed into but remaining visible on the surface. Then covered to create a clear wrap or plastic germination lid to allow light to get to the seed.
The roots of the seedlings are shallow and tend to stay towards the top of the surface. Allow them to develop with at least 3 set of true leaves before transplanting into permanent containers.
Buy Mint Plants
Jump start your herb garden with already growing mint plants. This will provide you with the quickest way to get mint growing in your indoor garden.
You can sometimes find plants at your local nursery. I have found a spearmint once at a big box store.
Check the quality of the plant’s growth, soil and leaves before purchase. Make sure that you do not see signs of insect infestations or fungus growth. These will be brought into your garden space and could possibly infest the rest of your plants.
I have often purchased started plants on Amazon and have had good luck with the quality of plants I received. If that is an option, you are going to explore look at the seller’s reviews and check how other customers experiences went. Reviews can be valuable tools to get quality plants.
Check out a list of Live Mint Plants here that are currently available for sale.
Mint Growing Tips
Mint is a hardy easy grower that requires minimal care. It will not hog the sunlight from your other plants. It will be happy growing in the lower light areas of your home and partial shade. It grows very well in containers on its own. If you choose to plant, it with anything else just be aware it will eventually overtake the entire container.
Helpful Mint Growing Tips:
? Keep Mint moist. This plant does not like to dry out and likes evenly moist soil. Do not make the soil swampy but a nice even moisture that spreads the top of the soil.
? Humidity is a blessing to mint. A saucer of damp pebbles to set your container on or regular misting will keep your mint very happy.
? Pick and Prune regularly for bushy beautiful plants. Trim whole stems at second or third leaf nodes from the base when they are young for great flavor and increased upright clumpy growth. Do not cut the plant bare but evenly time your trimming to get your plant to produce full growth.
? An overabundance of mint preserves perfect in regular ice cubes. Freeze whole leaves in water-filled ice cube trays for quick use to pop in a drink later.
☹ Do not overfertilize mint. It will cause the flavor to bitter and the leaves to yellow or brown. Light organic fertilizer on occasion is fine. I like to refresh my mint every 3 to 4 months with a handful of worm castings across the top of the soil.
☹ Harvest mint before it flowers and prevent flowering cycle by keeping it trimmed back. Flowering although greatly effects taste and growth.
Surprising Benefits and Uses of Mint
I touched briefly in the introduction of the alternative medicinal properties of mint. Like all herbs always consult a doctor.
- Aids Digestion and Soothes Nausea – The scent of mint is said to help produce saliva that naturally aids in the digestion of food. In addition, the menthol oil in the leaves is said to aid and relieve nausea symptoms by calming the stomach.
- Headaches and Migraines – Believed that mint and mint oils rubbed on the head can alleviate the pain associated with headaches and migraines.
- Oral care – Often used in toothpaste for its minty freshness and breath odor neutralizing effect. It also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Colds and sinus – The strong aromatics of the Mentha family have been used to help clear up congestions in the sinus and bronchi. It is also often added to cough suppressants and syrups to soothe sore throats and irritations.
More detailed information on the uses of Mint will be included in the Uses section of this site.
Of course, Cooking!
Tea – My favorite use of mint. I love a hot or cold mint tea or mix
Other drinks love mint. Cocktails, fruit drinks, infused waters, punches.
Salads – Green and cooked salads benefit from mint sprigs
Pasta Dishes – One of my favorite pasta dishes is Linguine with Shrimp Garlic Mint Sauce
Other meat and seafood dishes!
It’s Mint to be
Growing mint in containers is not the only the best way to contain mints vigorous growth but also helps to make it a staple in your indoor gardens.
I love mint and its amazing versatility in cooking and beverages. The taste is a picker-upper that perks the taste buds.
Teas are my favorite ways to use mint. I use them both iced and hot. What is your favorite way to use mint?
Perhaps you have a favorite dish that just would not be the same without the addition of a variety of mint?
What are you growing and using in your garden? Is it mint.
I look forward to hearing from you. Please leave your comments below and let’s start a conversation!