The Dos & Don'ts of Growing Mint

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It's fragrant, fast-growing, green, and compliments fruits, vegetables and meats. It's also its own ice cream flavor. So what's not to love about mint? If you've ever grown the herb, you know where I'm going with this, but if you haven't and are interested: read on for the dos and don'ts of successfully growing mint in your home garden.

Mint is really the perfect place to begin as you build your herb garden. It's easy to grow and is really fun to add to many recipes, whether breakfast, dinner or desert. And don't forget to add a sprig to a glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon.

Although mint is easy to grow, its roots, which are called "runners," are also incredibly invasive: they quickly grow, sprouting new leaves and new plants as they go. Mint will overtake a flower bed or garden in no time if you're not careful. So, read on for the Dos and Don'ts of Growing Mint:

DO

  • When choosing a location for your mint, find one where the plant will receive morning sun and partial afternoon shade.
  • Plant on a patio, in a container.
  • When planting the herb in a flower bed, first submerge a container (either a pot, a mesh bag or edging to at least 5 inches deep), leaving the rim above ground level when potted, so the mint's fast-growing root system will be contained. Otherwise, the herb will take over your garden and lawn in an annoying weed-like fashion.
  • Harvest mint sprigs before the plant flowers.
  • To extend the harvesting season, pinch off the flowering buds as they appear.
  • If planting your mint in a garden bed, apply mulch to help keep it from spreading.
  • Locate mint plants fifteen inches apart, and thin them regularly.
  • If planting your mint indoors, locate your container where it will receive good morning light but where it will also be away from drying heating elements.

DON'T

  • Plant mint in an open bed without first submerging a vessel that will contain the herb's wild-growing roots.
  • If planting mint in a bed using a submerged pot, be sure it's not cracked. The "runners" will find their way out and continue to spread.
  • Plant the herb in super moist conditions where it won't dry out.

Readers: We'd love to hear about your experience growing mint. How do you tame the herb but still keep it healthy?

-Re-edited from a post originally published on April 24,2011

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Landis is a ceramic artist who hand-makes heirloom-quality pottery for the kitchen, table, and home. She writes about tabletop design and entertaining for The Kitchn and lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and toddler.