Mint is a great plant to keep in your garden or in your kitchen. It has a lot of uses from cooking, medicine, aromas, and pest control. If you use a lot of fresh mint, it might be a good idea to think about growing your own plant. Keeping your own plant will save you a lot of time and money at the grocery store. It will also ensure that you always have a fresh supply at your fingertips. Of course, if you want to keep mint in your garden, you’ll want to know how to take care of it. Fortunately, mint is a very easy plant to grow and is very hardy. Still, it will do better under certain circumstances. We’ll cover those here. Below, I walk you through why growing mint is great, exactly when to plant mint and whether it’s ok to plant it at other times of the year, how long mint takes to grow, when to harvest mint and whether it’ll survive the winter.
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Why Grow Mint?
Mint is one of the most popular herbs grown in gardens and kitchens. Having fresh herbs at your fingertips can save a lot of time and money at the grocery store.
Many people love to have mint in their gardens because it helps protect other plants. The strong minty odor that humans love so much is hated by insects and rodents. By planting mint near your other crops, you’ll help keep them protected.
Mint can also be used to freshen up your home. Many people will dry the leaves and use them as potpourri. This is a great way to easily freshen up your home.
Fresh mint can even help with minor aches and pains. The aroma of mint can help relieve mild nausea and headaches. For a stronger effect, you can make your fresh mint into a stronger essential oil and use it that way.
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When To Plant Mint
The growing time for mint stays basically the same whether you’re planting from a seed, a cutting, or a juvenile plant. Mint is best planted in the late spring to early summer if it’s being planted outside.
Of course, if you plan to plant your mint inside, you can do it whenever you like.
When To Plant Mint Seeds
If you want to start out with seeds, it’s going to be a bit more difficult than using cuttings or a juvenile plant. That’s okay, though, you just need to know when to plant.
When exactly you plant your mint seeds depends on where you live. Most people prefer to have their seedlings ready to go come spring. This way, you can plant the small seedlings rather than starting fresh with a seed.
For most people, this means planting your seeds indoors. You’ll plant them inside in growing pots over winter. Now, you may be wondering, “when can I plant mint outside?”
In the spring, they’ll be ready to be transported outside. You’ll want to start sowing seeds about 8-10 weeks before the last projected frost date in your area.
If you live in a warmer region, you can plant the seeds directly in the garden. Of course, you’ll still want to wait until spring time to do this. The exact time in spring that you plant the seeds is not that important. Mint plants are extremely hardy and can grow under almost any circumstance.
It’s still recommended that you plant your mint in spring. However, you have a 2 month buffer period. You can plant your mint plant from spring through fall up until 2 months before the first frost.
If you plan to keep your mint plant inside indefinitely, then you can plant them at any time of year.
Tips For Planting Mint Seed
Most people will begin growing their seeds in containers or flats. As I said, you can do it directly in your garden as well. Just make sure you have prepared garden soil.
You’ll only want to place the seeds 1/4 inch deep into the soil. Seeds don’t technically need to be spaced apart, but it does make things easier as your plants start to grow. Germination takes between 10-15 days.
You’re going to want to keep the container of seeds in a warm environment. Keep the soil slightly moist, but don’t overdo it. Keeping the container covered will help speed up the growing process.
If you’re growing seeds outdoors, you’ll want to cover them with a light layer of vermiculite.
Once the plants have grown two leaves, it’s time to plant them into a bigger container. When you’re ready to plant them outdoors, leave them in containers for awhile first. Place the containers outside for about a week so that the seedlings can acclimate.
When To Plant Mint Cuttings
Planting cuttings is the same as planting seeds or juvenile plants. You’ll want to wait to plant until after the last frost of spring. The best time to plant is late spring to early summer. This is when the plant will be actively growing the most, so it makes sense that your new cuttings will do best at this time.
Using cuttings is really easy, and it can save you some money. It’s certainly simpler than started from scratch with seeds. If you already have a mint plant, or know someone who does, this is a good way to go.
Here is how you’ll collect and plant a mint cutting:
- Use pruning shears to cut a stem that is 4-6 inches long
- Remove any leaves from the lower portion of the stem
- Plant the root
- The root can be placed in a cup of water
- Change the water every other day to keep it fresh
- After the roots have grown a few inches, transplant it into soil
- It can also be placed in a small pot with potting mix
- Keep soil slightly moist
- The container should be placed where there is lots of indirect sunlight
- The root can be placed in a cup of water
This whole process will take about 2 weeks. At this point you, can transplant the clipping into the ground.
When To Plant Mint Outside
If you’re planting your mint outside, the best time to do it is in spring. Springtime is when the plant will grow the fastest and the healthiest.
Wait to plant until after the last frost though. Mint is a hardy plant, but it won’t survive a frost.
Can You Plant Mint At Other Times Of The Year?
Mint plants are very hardy plants. Technically, they can grow anytime between the last frost of spring and the first frost of fall. Still, it’s recommended to plant in late spring and early summer.
Just after the last frost of spring is when mint really begins to grow. This time of year is when you’ll see the most new growth, and it’s when your plants will be healthiest. For the best results, just stick to planting in the spring.
How Long Does Mint Take To Grow?
Mint is an extremely fast growing plant. The exact growth rate will vary between the species of mint.
Still, on average, mint can grow about 4 inches a month. If you’ve started with seeds, you’ll find that they might fill out a 4-inch pot in only a month.
By 2 months of age, they’ll need to go outside or into a bigger pot. In just 6 months, the plant may be 2 feet long.
Tips For Planting Mint
The Planting Site: Select a site not too close to other plants where it has room to spread out.
Soil: Mint does best with well-draining soil. It likes lots of water, though, so it should be kept where it’s moist. Lightly damp soil is better than waterlogged, soggy soil.
pH: Slightly acidic to neutral pH.
Sun: Partial shade is preferred. Will grow in full sun if watered frequently. Read more here.
Temperature: Widely adaptable. Exact temperature requirements depends on the species.
Humidity: Moderate humidity. Mint doesn’t do well in low humidity and may need misting during dry spells.
Nutrients: Fertile soil with compost.
Spacing: Plants should be at least 18 inches to 2 feet apart.
When To Harvest Mint
You’ll want to wait to harvest your mint until it’s about 2 months old. The plant should have multiple stems, and they should be at least 6-8 inches long. If they are any shorter, you should wait to harvest.
When the plant is mature, it should be harvested in the summer and fall. You’ll want to harvest before it gets too cold. As the temperatures drop, the shoots begin to die back.
You should never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at once. If you harvest more, you risk the plant not growing back properly.
You can harvest all of your needed mint at once — as long as it’s not more than 1/3 of the plant — or you can harvest as needed.
If you don’t make it a habit to harvest your mint, you’ll want to shear it about halfway through the season. You’ll likely notice the stems getting longer while the leaves get smaller. At this point, you should cut your plant back to 1/3. This will help new growth to appear and for the leaves to grow bigger.
You can dry your mint after you harvest it here to help it last longer. Read how here.
Will Mint Survive Winter?
Mint is an extremely hardy plant, so it’s quite difficult to kill. Still, the plants are sensitive to the cold, so there are a few things you can do to help it survive the winter.
You’ll want to trim your mint plants low to the ground. You’ll then want to cover the roots with mulch. Once that’s done, simply leave them alone until springtime comes again.
If you keep your mint plants in pots outdoors, you’ll want to bring them inside over winter. Make sure to bring the containers inside before the first frost of the season, or it may be too late. Keep the pots in an area with lots of light, and make sure they’re watered well.
Final Words on When to Plant Mint
As you can see, mint is a very hardy plant. It can be grown at almost any time of year, even if you’re planting it outside. It even does well over winter without much help from us. Still, mint does best when planted in late spring to early summer. This fact stays the same whether you’re planting seeds, cuttings, or a juvenile plant. Planting during spring is the best thing you can do for your new plant. We’re closely approaching spring. So, if you’re thinking of planting mint in your garden this spring, you’ll want to start planning. I hope I’ve helped with that process!
Want to learn more? Click here to learn what are good companion plants for peppermint and here for information about how mint spreads. You can also find all my mint guides here and learn how to grow mint from seeds here.
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