Mint is one of those plants that people feel very strongly about having in the garden, and for good reason. Because of its spreading nature and tendency to take over, many of us opt to just go without it all together. The problem with doing this is that the mint wins! Seriously, though, we humans are definitely smart enough to outwit the mint, making it possible to enjoy all that it has to offer. Mint is a tasty plant that can be made into all kinds of goodies, while also being a powerful medicinal herb. There are many different varieties of mint such as peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, and apple mint, all with similar growing habits. There are also other plants that are in the mint family that grow without abandon such as lemon balm, bee balm, and catnip that can included in this discussion as well. Here are 10 reasons to grow mint, without fear of it taking over your garden!
Mint Can Only Move So Fast
The truth of the matter is that mint is a plant, and while it can and will most definitely spread, it takes some time for this to happen. I would steer clear of planting mint in or anywhere near your regular garden beds as it will eventually try and take over, but it’s a great plant for a rocky herb garden, a neglected corner of your yard, or a high traffic area. This is mint that is just starting to spread after one year in the ground.
Mint will spread from its underground roots, and can cover great distances and under obstacles to get to where it wants to go, so keep that in mind when planting. But, although it may sometimes seem like it, this won’t happen overnight. Just keep a close eye on it and harvest any new plants that you don’t want.
Mint Can Be Contained
Probably the best way to grow mint is in a container. This will ensure that it will stay where you want it, without any worry of garden takeover.
Since the rhizomes that cause the mint to spread don’t go very deep, it’s also possible to plant mint in a raised bed without worrying too much about it jumping ship. It will try and take over the raised bed, however, so make sure to plant other things that can keep up with it. Other hardy perennial herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme can usually tolerate the aggressive nature of mint, especially if they are already established.
You Can Take as Much Mint as You Please (& then some)
The best part about growing a plant that is as aggressive as mint is that you can be just as aggressive back at it without worry of harming it. You can cut handfuls of mint at a time without any damage done. See a mint plant that is growing where you don’t want it? Chop it down and turn it into something delicious, or cut large bundles of mint and hang to dry for use in the winter months.
Mint Grows Well in the Shade
If there is a shady area of your yard that you have trouble growing things in, try planting mint. While it prefers full sun, it can tolerate some shade, and it will probably keep it from spreading as quickly. Regardless, I would still take the necessary precautions so that you don’t get a complete mint takeover (unless that’s what you want, of course).
Mint Can Grow from Cuttings
Mint is super easy to propagate from cuttings and will readily re-root itself. You can cut out mint where you don’t want it, put it in water until it grows some roots, then transplant it where you do want it. In fact, you don’t even have to put it in water first as it will root right in soil. Do it as a science experiment with your kids, or root a bunch of cuttings, pot them up, and give away to friends. Mint is the gift that keeps on giving (and giving).
You Can Completely Ignore Mint (& it won’t feel bad)
Let your mint go and do it’s thing, then come and take from it as much as you want, and it will still thrive. Don’t worry about watering or fertilizing it. Really, it will grow without any inputs. Unless you’re trying to naturally thin it out, it may like a little water from time to time, but it will honestly be ok if you literally leave it alone for months on end. It’s a great plant for lazy gardeners.
Mint Attracts Beneficial Insects (& Repels the Bad Ones)
Let your mint go to flower and it will attract bees, beneficial wasps, hoverflies (aphid eaters), and tachinid flies (parasitic on nasty bugs). The smell of the mint plant will also repel houseflies, cabbage moths, ants, aphids, squash bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, and even mice. Not a bad deal, if you ask me!
Mint is Good for Your Pets
Chickens love fresh herbs and mint is no exception. The best part is that it’s also great for them and their coop. It keeps bugs, flies, and parasites at bay, as well as being an antioxidant and digestive aid for your flock. Be sure to plant lots of mint (as well as other herbs) in and around the coop and run for chickens to munch on daily.
Mint is also great for cats and dogs. Catnip is actually in the mint family, and is a favorite herb for kitties as well as humans. While cats and dogs probably shouldn’t eat a whole lot of mint in one sitting, a little bit is great for them. It is a natural flea repellent, and I often see Cosmo the kitty rubbing up against the mint plant.
Mint is Good Food
Of course, mint is an awesome culinary herb! Cut it from the garden without abandon to make all kinds of delicious treats. I particularly like to make an iced green tea with it.
Here are some other unique ideas for ways to use mint in the kitchen:
- One Gallon of Mint Wine from Pixie’s Pocket
- Traditional English Mint Sauce for Lamb from Joybilee Farm
- Rhubarb Mint Jam from Homespun Seasonal Living
- How to Make Chocolate Mint Extract from Timber Creek Farm
Mint is Good Medicine
Mint is also an amazing medicinal herb. It is well known as a digestive aid and breath freshener, and is also good for an upset stomach. Peppermint is especially great for headaches, and the essential oil can be rubbed on the temples for relief. It can be helpful for seasonal allergies, and can also be added to body care products like salves and lip balms, soaps, shampoo bars, and lotions.
I hope this post has inspired you to grow some mint! It really is a versatile plant that we should not fear having in our yards. Here are some other great posts on how to use up lots of mint:
- 12 Great Ways to Use Mint and Tips for Growing It from Learning and Yearning
- 15+ Versatile Uses for Mint from Preparedness Mama
- Preserving Mint for Food and Medicine from Homespun Seasonal Living
- More Mint Ideas from The Nerdy Farm Wife
- Got Mint? from Homestead Lady
What do you like to do with mint?