How to Grow Mint Plants: The Complete Guide


Mint is an easy herb to grow in your garden and can add flavor to every meal.

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Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Mint

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Mint practically grows itself! This herb adds flavor to foods and tea and is also useful for aiding digestion. All you need to do is confine mint to keep it from spreading. See tips on planting, growing, controlling, and harvesting mint.

About Mint

Mint is a perennial herb with very fragrant, toothed leaves and tiny purple, pink, or white flowers. There are many varieties of mint—all fragrant, whether shiny or fuzzy, smooth or crinkled, bright green or variegated. However, you can always tell a member of the mint family by its square stem. Rolling it between your fingers, you’ll notice an aromatic scent and think of candy, sweet teas, or even mint juleps.

As well as kitchen companions, mints are used as garden accents, ground covers, air fresheners, and herbal medicines. They’re as beautiful as they are functional and foolproof to grow, thriving in sun and shade all over North America. Since mint can be a vigorous spreader, you must be careful where you plant it.


  • Mints are vigorous perennials that thrive in light soil with good drainage.
  • Ideally, they prefer a moist but well-drained site, something like their native habitat along stream banks.
  • Most will grow in sun or partial shade; the variegated types may require some protection from direct sun.
  • For growing outdoors, plant one or two purchased plants (or one or two cuttings from a friend) about 2 feet apart in moist soil. One or two plants will easily cover the ground. Mint should grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall.
  • Mint is a vigorous grower and needs to be contained, or it will send out its runners and spread all over your garden. The key is to contain the plant’s roots. Whether it’s in the ground or above ground, plant mint in a pot; we suggest each mint is planted in a 10-inch pot that has drainage holes. You can then sink this pot into the ground or another larger container of soil. 
  • If you are fine with mint becoming a ground cover and understand that it may become invasive, plant in its own raised bed or separate area.
  • In the garden, plant mint near cabbage and tomatoes—in pots, again, in order to prevent it from spreading and stealing nutrients from your crops!

Check out this video to learn more about how to grow mint. 


  • Minimal care is needed for mint. For outdoor plants, use a light mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and keep the leaves clean.
  • Indoor plants should be watered regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • At first, mints develop into well-behaved-looking, bushy, upright clumps, but they soon set out to conquer new territory with horizontal runners and underground rhizomes. Unless you block the advance, a peppermint plant can become a sprawling 4-foot giant in just 1 year. It’s not the stuff of horror movies, however. Mints benefit from picking and pruning. They are shallow-rooted and easy to pull out, so there’s no reason to worry as long as you provide physical barriers such as walls, walkways, or containers.
a basket of freshly picked mint
Photo Credit: Juta/Shutterstock


  • Frequent harvesting is the key to keeping mint plants at their best. Young leaves have more flavor than old ones, and mint can be harvested as soon as it comes up in spring. Although fresh is best, and sprigs should be kept in water for a few days, mint leaves can be frozen or air-dried in bunches.
  • Right before flowering, cut the stems 1 inch from the ground. You can harvest one mint plant two or three times in one growing season.
  • You can also pick the leaves as you need them.
  • You can grow the plants indoors for fresh leaves throughout the winter. If you want to dry them, it’s best to cut the leaves right before flowering. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container.

Propagating Mint

The best way to propagate mints is by taking cuttings from those that you like best. It’s easy—take 6-inch cuttings of rooted stems and plant them horizontally in the soil. Mint stems will also root in a glass of water. Start with a small cutting from an established plant. Any gardening friend will give you a cutting of a favorite mint.

propogating mint cuttings
Photo Credit: Joannawnuk/Shutterstock


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Wit and Wisdom

“If any man can name … all the varieties of mint, he must know how many fish swim in the Indian Ocean.”  –Walafrid Strabo (c. 808–849)


Spacing for Mint

Cooking Notes

Serious cooks generally prefer spearmint for savory dishes and peppermint for desserts. Try apple or orange mint for a delicate mint taste in fruit salads, yogurt, or tea. Mint lurks in the background in Middle Eastern salads, such as tabouli, and does well with lamb. It also goes with peas, zucchini, fresh beans, marinades for summer vegetables, cold soups, fruit salads, and cheese.

Credit: Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock

Tip! Make flavored ice cubes by freezing trays of strong mint tea, then use the ice cubes for your drinks!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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