How to Care for a Mint Plant

Overview

Mint is one of the simpler perennial herbs to grow in the herb garden as long as it is properly cared for. There are many types of culinary mint available, including peppermint and spearmint, as well as some purely ornamental types. Mint can be grown in the garden bed or in pots, although many gardeners prefer to grow it in pots as mint is invasive and quickly takes over garden beds. Regardless of where you grow it, caring for your mint only requires a minimal time commitment.

Step 1

Water mint in pots when the top 1 inch of soil begins to feel dry. Water until the excess moisture drains from the bottom drainage holes on the pot. Water mint in garden beds once a week, providing 1 to 2 inches of water each time.

Step 2

Fertilize mint in the spring when it begins actively growing again. Provide one teaspoon of a balanced fertilizer, such as 16-16-16 analysis, to the soil at the base of each plant. Avoid getting the fertilizer directly on the plant, as this can cause burning or damage.

Step 3

Mulch around plants with a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips. Replenish the mulch each spring. Mulching preserves soil moisture and prevents weed growth.

Step 4

Check the mint's leaves for signs of insect infestation, such as leave spots or discoloration caused by aphids or flea beetles. Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or insecticide designed for that particular pest as soon as a problem is noticed.

Step 5

Harvest mint throughout spring and summer when the plants are at least 4 inches tall. Cut off outer stems and leaves with sharp, clean scissors and use immediately or dry to preserve.

Step 6

Pinch back the plant to keep it full and bushy between harvestings. Pinch off the top ½ inch of each stem in spring and again at mid-summer to encourage branching. Pinch off flower clusters before they open, as the flavor of mint is weakened if its allowed to flower.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid getting the plant's leaves wet, especially in the evening. Wet leaves overnight can lead to disease on the mint.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Insecticide
  • Scissors

References

  • Utah State University Cooperative Extension: Mint in the Garden
Keywords: caring for mint, herb gardening, growing mint plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.