Mint plants are very hardy plants that can be grown almost anywhere. It’s an ideal plant to grow in your garden for this reason. Not only is it easy and great for beginners, but it has a lot of uses, too. Many people use mint in their cooking, but it has other uses as well. Mint is easy to grow, but it still has its own preferences and requirements. If you want to grow your own mint, whether in your kitchen or your garden, you’re going to need to know how to take care of it. Below, I discuss where to plant mint including where it grows in the world, how much sun mint needs and what soil conditions. I also cover whether to plant mint in a pot or in the garden, whether it needs fertilizer and water and when and how to harvest it.
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Why Grow Mint?
First things first. Why should you want to grow mint?
Mint is great for a lot of things. It’s most commonly used in cooking, but people grow it for other reasons as well.
It can help ease minor aches and pains, it’ll make your house smell great, and it can drive away the pests from your garden.
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Grow Mint Because It Smells And Looks Good
Mint is a perennial plant that will come back year after year if you care for it properly. They grow beautiful green leaves with fragrant flowers that bloom in the spring.
For some, the aesthetic of the mint plant is reason enough to add it to your garden. Even if that’s the case, you’ll find that the lovely scent has extra benefits.
Humans love the smell of mint, and that’s why it’s so common in toothpaste, candles, and candy. Just growing mint in your garden can help your garden smell nice.
However, most people will harvest the leaves from their mint plant and dry them. The dried leaves will retain their taste and aroma. Many people will place the dried leaves around their home in a bowl or in cloth bags to help their home smell better.
Grow Mint for Pest Control
Just because we think mint smells good doesn’t mean that everyone feels that way. Besides the smell of mint making our homes smell good, it can also help deter pests. Pests like bugs and rodents hate the pungent odor of mint and will avoid it.
Because of its pest repelling properties, many people grow mint in their garden. Many plants are susceptible to the dangers of pests. By planting mint next to these vulnerable plants, gardeners can ensure their garden is protected.
People will also leave their dried mint leaves at entry points in their homes. Putting them near windowsills, for example, can help deter pests.
For something stronger, you can make your leaves into a potent essential oil. Essential oils are much stronger than the leaves themselves. Putting a few drops of mint essential oil on your windowsill or around your home can prevent pests.
Grow Mint For Cooking
What better reason is there to grow mint than for cooking? Mint has a cool, refreshing taste to it that can add extra flavor to any dish. Spearmint, peppermint, and lemon mint are the most flavorful of the mint species. They are the kinds of mint most commonly used in cooking.
Anyone that cooks with fresh herbs regularly can tell you that the cost can add up. By growing your own mint, you can cut down on costs significantly.
Some people keep their mint inside where they’ll harvest from it whenever it’s needed. Others will harvest all their leaves at once and stock up for the year. Mint leaves can be dried or frozen for later use.
Grow Mint for Health Benefits
Another common reason people like to grow mint is because of its health benefits. If you use it in your cooking or in your tea, you’ll receive some nutritional benefits. Mint is rich in Vitamin A, Iron, and Manganese. It is also low in calories and contains a small amount of fiber.
Eating peppermint or using peppermint oil capsules has also been known to help with digestive issues. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have reported relief after taking peppermint oil capsules. It can also help with simple indigestion.
The smell alone can even have health benefits. By smelling the aroma of mint tea, you can focus better and your brain function will be improved.
Where Do Mint Plants Grow?
There are 25 species of mint throughout the world. These plants can be found in areas of Eurasia, North America, Australia, and southern Africa. They originated in areas of Europe and Asia, but have been naturalized in the other regions.
Mint is a very hardy plant and has become distributed widely across many temperate areas in the world.
Where Does Wild Mint Grow?
If you’re out and about in rural or wild areas, you’re not as likely to see peppermint or spearmint. Instead, you’re more likely to see American Wild Mint, otherwise known as field mint.
In the wild, mint is commonly found in temperate regions, although it can grow just about anywhere. You’re likely to find mint in a low-lying area near streams or in other areas where the soil is moist.
You may also find it near the edges of woodland areas, under bushes, in fields, and in meadows.
Where To Grow Mint: Pots Or Garden?
Whether you choose to grow your mint indoors or outdoors is truly up to you. Neither is bad, but each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Grow Mint Inside
Inside, you never have to worry about the temperature. Your mint will continue to grow throughout the whole year, and you can continue enjoying it.
The downside to planting mint in the house is that you must be more attentive to it. You’ll have to keep a closer eye on your mint and make sure it’s getting all the care it needs.
Indoor climate conditions can sometimes be unideal for plants. For example, mint likes moderate to high humidity, so if your house is dry, you’ll need to mist it frequently.
Grow Mint Outside
When grown outside, your mint plants are better able to fend for themselves. This doesn’t mean that you can just plant them and forget about them, but it does mean you won’t need to be as attentive.
The problem with growing mint outside is that it is a fast spreader. Mint is an incredibly fast grower and can quickly take over any garden when left unchecked.
This is where pots come in.
Grow Mint in Pots
Whether you choose to grow inside or outside is up to your preference. Whatever you choose, we recommend planting your mint in a pot, or within some kind of barrier. Yes, even if the mint is in the garden.
Mint grows with rhizomes. Rhizomes shoot out horizontally under the soil. They grow very quickly and can take over your garden. If you put up a barrier in your garden, you can prevent your mint from overgrowing.
Many people use a fence-like barrier in their garden. It’ll need to be placed 18-24 inches under the ground to be effective at preventing the spread of mint.
Other people will use an actual pot. You can dig a hole where you’d like the mint to go and simply put the pot right in.
Where To Plant Mint In The Garden
If you’ve elected not to use a barrier or pot, you’ll want to plant your mint far away from your other plants. Put it somewhere where it can spread without bothering anything else.
How Much Sun Does Mint Need?
Mint isn’t overly picky about this. It prefers to live mostly in the sun, but likes partial shade. It can survive in full sun or full shade, but it is not going to thrive.
If you decide to grow it in an area with full sun, make sure that it’s getting plenty of water. It’ll need to be watered much more frequently than a mint plant grown in partial shade.
It can also survive in full shade or mostly shady conditions. It does this every winter when the light is sparse. However, this also isn’t ideal. If your mint doesn’t get enough sun, it will stay small and will appear unhealthy. You might not get the harvest of healthy leaves you were hoping for.
How Much Spacing Does Mint Need?
As I stated before, mint spreads a lot. Because of this, you should have plenty of space between your mint plant and any other plant. Even if you have a barrier for your mint, the leaves will still need plenty of space to spread out.
Ideally, you’ll keep mint 18-24 inches away from any other plant.
What Soil Conditions Does Mint Need?
Mint does best in soil that is damp, but isn’t soggy. To get this right consistency, you should place it in an area with well-draining soil.
It is okay with most soil types, but it prefers soil that is rich in nutrients. It also prefers a pH that is slightly acidic or neutral.
Should I Fertilize My Mint Plant Regularly?
Mint does not need to be fertilized. Fertilizer can potentially be harmful to mint plants, especially if they’re planted outside. The only time you would need to use fertilizer is if your soil is very nutrient-poor.
Inside, fertilizer can sometimes be helpful for them to get the nutrients they may be lacking.
How Often Should I Water My Mint Plant?
As I said, mint likes a lot of water, but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. The soil should always be slightly moist to the touch. If you touch the surface of the soil and notice that it’s dry, it’s time to water the plant again.
Watering is best done in the morning. This allows the plant plenty of time to soak up the water before the temperatures get too high.
When To Plant Mint
Mint is a very hardy plant and can be planted almost any time of year. If you’re planting your mint inside, you actually can plant it at any time of year!
If you’re growing your mint outside, it’s a bit different. The best time of year to plant your mint is in the late spring or early summer. Avoid planting until the last frost has passed.
Spring is the best time to plant mint because it’s typically cooler and rainier. Mint does best in cooler temperatures in the high 60’s and 70’s. The rain will also provide your new plants with lots of moisture to grow.
Springtime is when mint naturally grows best, so I recommend sticking to this time frame.
However, because mint is so hardy, you’re not restricted to just springtime. Anytime between the last frost of spring up until 2 weeks before the first frost of fall is okay.
When To Harvest Mint
First things first, you don’t want to get too excited and get ahead of yourself. Harvesting a plant that is too young can damage the plant for life.
Harvesting should only be done once the stems are 6-8 inches long. This usually takes about 2 months for a brand new plant.
The best time to harvest is in summer or early fall. You’ll want to harvest while the leaves are still healthy, before the plant begins to die back.
Never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at once or it can irreversibly damage the plant.
Final Words on How Much Sun Mint Needs
As you can see, it’s not hard to grow mint, and the plant has lots of uses. If you want to grow mint in your kitchen or garden, go for it! The key advice I’d give you is to make sure it’s contained and won’t take over your garden. Mint prefers partial sun but can still live in full sun or shade. Keep your mint contained, take care of it, and keep it growing healthy and strong. If you do all this, you’ll have plenty of fresh mint for years to come.
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