We learned the hard way, it is best to grow mint – even outdoors – in containers. So we had to dig up the roots – and my goodness they are like triffids – and start over.
But in doing so, we discovered the easiest way to grow your own mint in pots for herbal tea, cool lemonade, your favourite mojitos or for littlies some lovely mint playdough.
AND this turned out to be a super cool plant science experiment my daughter just loved that’s great fun at home and in the classroom.
I’ll share the propagation experiment in a moment and then my mint growing tips for beginners. Do save them for future reference.
1. Mint Propagation
Growing new plants is usually about planting seeds, but the best way to grow mint is from clippings or cuttings.
So after we’d yanked up our mint jungle, my daughter picked off a few early stems and popped them in jam jars of water.
Within a week – to her amazement – the little mint cuttings were putting out new roots, that grew and grew and grew …
And with new roots, the stems themselves grew producing new leaves and new shoots.
What we were witnessing was the phenomenal power of mint to reproduce asexually or clone themselves rather than rely on pollination and the growth of a new seed.
And it’s not just mint with this super power. You can also try this experiment with:
- Other herbs such as sage, oregano, rosemary and lavender
- And even more cool willow cuttings that let you watch catkins burst into pollen
To extend the experiment:
- Cut different herbs and see which root first
- Compare growth between cuttings from young tips and lower down on older stems
- Change water daily for one mint cutting and don’t change it for another
And have a think about the advantages of asexual reproduction for the mint.
Speed and reliability of growth are big ones, which is why this is such a great way to grew mint plants as a beginner or with kids.
So now let’s move on to those top tips for how to grow healthy mint plants in a pot both outdoors on a patio or balcony or indoors in the kitchen.
2. Mint Growing Tips
Starting Mint From Cuttings
In spring, ask around among neighbours to find anyone with a mint plant happy to offer you a few cuttings, then:
- Take 4 or 5 cuttings 2 or 3 inches long
- Cut just below some leaves
- Remove bottom leaves and pop the cuttings in a jar of water in the kitchen
- Leave to root for about a fortnight but it doesn’t matter if longer – you want a nice healthy root system before planting
- There’s a big debate about whether you should change the water or not – some swear by changing it daily, others say don’t change at all because the oxygen emitted by the plants stops the root from rotting. We usually change it a couple of times.
Transferring Mint to Pots
Once the mint cuttings have a nice healthy root system, it’s time to pick a pot.
- Growing mint outdoors : an 8 inch / 20 cm pot will support a good mint crop for herbal tea and the like over the summer
- Growing mint indoors : it’s easier indoors to split your mint cuttings between 2 or 3 smaller pots, but the pots must have something to sit in, as you’ll water them lots
Now transfer your cuttings to your pots with compost and water well. Then cut down your shoots to about an inch or so but make sure leaves are left on each shoot.
Now you are all ready to pick the best spot for your mint cuttings to grow.
Best Spots For Growing Mint
Mint plants do like light but don’t like scorching afternoon sun that dries them out so:
- Give outdoor pots a little afternoon shade
- Keep indoor pots away from hot windows
Looking After Your Mint Plants
Your lovely new mint plants should flourish – remember those triffids in my front garden – as long as you keep them well watered.
Which is one of the reasons they are a great plant to grow with kids – it truly doesn’t matter if they half drown them 😉
If you’re away over the summer loan the plants – and their delicious leaves – to a neighbour in exchange for daily watering.
And then just keep harvesting and enjoying your mint in food and play. Remember it’s brilliant at reproducing so you can afford to pass on your own cuttings because shoots will grow back and you will see lots of new shoots growing from the roots.
3. What Next?
Mint is super rewarding to grow: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s delicious AND makes a brilliant plant science experiment for kids.
For more fun gardening projects for beginners that also help kids learn loads about plant biology try some of these:
- Mushrooms: part of the mind boggling fungi kingdom, you can have mushrooms on your plate in less than 2 weeks
- Radishes: are the speediest veg on the block and need very little room
- Peas: freshly picked from a pod are sweet enough to tempt even the pickiest eater
- Lettuces: will grow once and then miraculously grow again and again
- Courgettes: or zucchini to you Americans are surprisingly scrumptious in chocolate cake AND have a super clever pollination trick up their flowers 😉
They will all grow in pots so you don’t need a big garden and they are classroom friendly.
Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear your stories. And for more simple tips check out my Pinterest boards: