Mint is a perennial plant indigenous to countries around the globe. This herb is an excellent addition to gardens for its culinary value. It also deters cabbage moths and ants, making it a good companion for cabbage and broccoli. Mint, though, can be invasive. The runners in its root system enable it to propagate quickly across open areas. You can devote a garden bed to your mint plant or use a container to control the growth.
Determine a location for your mint. Mint prefers partial shade and well-composted soil. Water requirements are high for mint; it prefers the soil be kept moist, though not wet. The location should be large enough to accommodate the spread of the mint if you're planting it directly into the ground.
Obtain a cutting of the type of mint you wish to grow. Some of the mints available commercially include spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint and apple mint.
Dig a small hole in the soil. The hole should be 1 inch larger in diameter and 1 inch deeper than the height of the cutting. Place the cutting into the hole and pull soil around the stem so the cutting remains upright.
Keep the soil moist but do not fertilize or add mulch. Partial sun and water are all mint requires once planted in composted soil.
Control invasive growth by planting your cutting in a pot partially buried in the garden soil. Fill the container with loose potting mix designed for herbs and vegetables. Plant the mint cutting in the container and dig a hole in the soil just large enough to insert the container, leaving 1 to 2 inches of the container above the soil surface. The mint will grow, but the pot will contain its root system, and so control its growth.
Harvest the mint frequently once leaves have been established along the stems. For contained mint, pick leaves directly or take small cuttings. For free-range plants, take larger cuttings from the edges of the plant to encourage new growth. Small, new leaves are more tender and flavorful than larger, older leaves.
Cut back 1/3 to 1/2 of the mint patch near the end of the growing season. This will ease the watering needs of the plant system as cooler weather sets in. Continue to cut back the plant every few weeks, storing the harvested mint.
Cover your mint plants with a layer of mulch when you notice the growth has slowed. The mulch may protect the root system from the winter frosts. You can also take a healthy cutting near the end of the growing season and plant it in a container. As the weather becomes too cool for outdoor gardening, bring the container indoors and continue to harvest from the cutting. Take a fresh cutting from the container plant and plant it in the garden.