How to Grow and Harvest Mint Plant
(Mentha) or the Mint plants are hardy perennials that are easy to grow, these garden herbs have a sweet aroma with a unique taste that can be used to make tea or give that extra zest to some of your favorite recipes. There are many mint varieties in fact 25 species to be exact that produce white, purple, or pink flowers.
The mint herb belongs to the family Lamiaceae and is native to Australia, Eurasia, North America, and southern Africa.
Mints are vigorous growers and are known to be invasive especially when growing alongside other plants therefore it’s recommended that mint receive their own planting bed because mint can and will compete with other plants for sunlight, water, and nutrients. For more on how to grow and harvest mint plants, let’s take a closer look.
Mint planting location
The mint herb performs best in the full sunlight but can also thrive in partial shade. Mint should be planted in the spring after the last frost. When planting mint they should be given spacing of 18 to 24 inches apart.
Mint soil requirements
The ideal soil for mints is soils that are rich in organic matter with a ph between 6.5 and 7.0.
Mint water requirements
Mints need constant moisture so the soil should be moist at all times not water-saturated.
Mint fertilizing requirements
And organic fertilizer or well-composted manure can be work into the first top 6 inches of soil at the time of planting. A slow or controlled-release fertilizer of 16-16-8 in the spring is ideal when growth begins and can be scattered throughout the plant bed. Before applying fertilizers read and follow the manufactures label.
Although mints are vigorous growers if you prefer, a 2 t0 3 inch layer of mulch will keep weeds down. This mulching will also hold moisture and as the mulch decomposes will add nutrients to the plant bed. When mulching place the mulch around the base of the plant and not on top, the mulch should make contact with the soil. Pine straw, shredded leaves, straw, or bagged mulch can be used.
Growing mint in a container
When seeking to grow mints from a container the container should be large to give this herb room to grow. A container size of 7 gallon or larger with drain holes is ideal, when planting add a quality potting mix along with a small amount of slow-release fertilizer to the container.
This slow-release fertilizer should be mix thoroughly into the soil, once your mint is planted give your soil a good soaking. The soil however should be kept moist at all times not waterlogged. Although mint can thrive in partial shade the container should be placed in an area that gets lots of sunlight.
Growing mint indoors
If planning on growing mints indoors followed the same procedure as when growing mint in a container the only difference is that you will be bringing your mint indoors. An east-facing window with indirect sunlight during spring through summer will keep your mint plant thriving.
When the fall and winter months approach the container should be removed and placed near a west-or south-facing window. During the day hours, the temperature can be around 65-70 F. (18-21 C.) and at night times 55-60 F. (13-15 C.)
Mint garden insect pests
Keep an eye out for these garden pests.
- Spider mites
- Flea beetles
Thrips are tiny winged insects that cause plant damage by curled or distorted leaves. This happens because this garden pest punctures the plant’s leaves extracting the sap. Thrips have also been known to spread diseases.
To bring control the use of botanical insecticides, sticky traps, the use of a strong spray of water from your garden hose, or releasing beneficial insects such as pirate bugs and ladybugs will give results.
Aphids are the easiest among garden pests to eliminate, aphids do damage by piercing the plant’s leaves and sucking the sap which causes yellowing and curling of the leaves along with a black mass of a dark dirty substance that covers leaves known as sooty mold which forms from the aphids secretion known as honeydew. A strong spray of water from your garden hose will knock them off and kill them, a mixture of soap and water can also work, the use of organic insecticides can offer help as well.
Spider mites are tiny garden insect pests barely visible to the eyes, these garden pests survive in conditions that are arid and hot. Spider mites live on the undersides of leaves and dose damage by piercing the leaves making tiny holes.
Signs also include the presence of webbing and speckled discoloration. There are several methods that can be used to bring control. A strong spray of water from your garden hose can remove them from your mint plant, releasing beneficial insects such as ladybugs will help in eliminating them. Organic pesticides and homemade remedies such as soapy water will bring control.
Loppers are also pests of mint, Cabbage, and the Alfalfa Loopers that are 1-2 inches in length and various shades of green do damage by consuming large portions of the stems and the leaves. Control measures include handpicking and throwing them into a container of soapy water or the use of bacillus thuringiensis. Prior to spraying trim the mint to the ground.
The larva of moths which are known as cutworms inhibits the soil and feeds on the plant’s stems. Signs of cutworm presence are plants shriveling up and dying or seedlings severed at the soil line. There are several ways to control cutworms.
Placing diatomaceous earth around your plants will bring elimination as cutworms walk across the powder they will die. Bacillus thuringiensis applied in the afternoon before night approaches can also help in bringing control because this is the time of the evening when worms are most active. Searching for them with the help of a flashlight during nighttime handpicking and throwing them into a container of soapy water will also help.
Flea beetles are tiny with shiny colors of bronze to black, when disturbed these insects will jump from plant to plant. Flea beetles cause damage by chewing small holes through the leaves. Control these beetles by applying neem oil.
Another method of control involves dusting plants with talcum powder, the use of diatomaceous earth near your plant, or placing sticky tapes near your plants will also catch them.
Mint does have its share of disease issues but quickly identifying and using these measures will bring control.
- Verticillium wilt
- Mint rust
Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that lives in the soil, this disease enters susceptible plants through their roots and spreads to the vascular system. Signs of verticillium wilt show up as the leaves wilting then curling followed by turning yellow or red.
The stems and the branches will also die back, the uninfected side however will remain healthy looking. As this disease persists it leaves discoloration that is dark. Removing the bark will show streaks on the wood that’s dark.
Also cutting through the branch and looking at the cross-section reveals dark-colored rings. Once this disease enters a plant there is no cure except to remove the plant and properly dispose of it. Avoid replanting susceptible plants in the same area. Larger plants that are infected such as trees and shrubs life can be preserved by giving adequate water along with fertilizers that are low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus.
To destroy fungus the soil will have to be heated, solarization is a process that involves wetting the soil and covering it with a clear plastic trap followed by pinning or burying the edges to hold in place. As the soil heats the temperature will rise killing fungus, it takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for this method to be effective after which the plastic can be removed.
This disease is caused by a fungus during the cool months of spring when conditions are wet. The fungus overwinters in the dead fallen leaves and twigs but once the weather warms up and dries this disease goes dormant and will return again once the cool rainy season approaches.
Anthracnose symptoms include sunken lesions that are dark along the leaves, this lesion may also be found on the stems and fruits. Further investigation also reveals small tan to brown spots about the size of the pin on the undersides of the leaves.
Anthracnose affects many evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees, as well as grass. Control measures involve stopping the fungus from overwintering by removing debris such as twigs and leaves from around the plant or plant bed.
Ensure that plants are maintained by proper plant care (water, the right amount of lighting, and fertilizing) also the removal of old and deadwood. Chemical treatments can also be sorted if this disease persists.
Mint rust is encouraged by overhead irrigation, (the leaves constantly being wet) will cause fungus spores to germinate. Signs of mint rust during spring are orange to rust-colored spots covering the undersides of the leave.
If this disease is allowed to persist the leaves turn brown and drop from the plant in the late summer and early fall. When these dropped leaves regrow darker spots often appear. Control measures involve thinning the plant for proper air circulation, Watering plants from the soil level instead of overhead, and the use of fungicides which should be the last resort.
Mints can be harvested in the spring, the leaves are removed by pinching. The flavor of mints is most intense right before the bloom period. For a bushier plant locate the area right above the first or second set of leaves and make the cut.
During the second year, your mint can be cut back especially before the cold months set in to discourage insects and disease from overwintering. Once spring arrives mints will grow busy and healthy.
The final word on growing mint plants
There you have it the word on growing mint is out and it’s so simple, why not make mint a part of your garden and enjoy the aromas and flavors of this garden herb you will be so happy that you made the choice of growing mint which is a favorite of many home gardeners.