Mint has a bad reputation for taking over the garden, for good reason. But, there are many reasons to grow mint in your backyard without fear!
Healing Kitchen Herbs eBook
Did you know that most of the herbs you use in your kitchen also have medicinal uses?
My eBook Healing Kitchen Herbs: 12 Common Herbs with Powerful Medicinal Benefits will teach you how to grow and use these amazing herbs. You’ll learn the benefits of each plant and how to maximize their herbal power in your kitchen!
Here are some tips for growing and using mint:
Even though mint is a highly beneficial plant, due to its spreading nature, 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 of its benefits.
Mint is a tasty plant, and there are all kinds of delicious recipes that use mint. Mint is also 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 with abandon such as lemon balm, bee balm, and catnip that can be included in this discussion as well.
Don’t fear growing mint in your garden! Here’s why.
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 to take over.
It’s a great plant for a rocky herb garden, a neglected corner of your yard, or a high traffic area.
This is a mint plant 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 go under obstacles to get to where it wants to go, so keep that in mind when planting.
But, this won’t happen overnight, although it may sometimes seem like it. 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.
If grown in a pot, it tends to get a little sparse and scraggly looking after a couple of years. It never seems to do as well as mint grown in the ground, probably because it really doesn’t like being contained!
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 or pull it out 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 grow and do its thing, then 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 okay if you literally ignore it for months on end.
Mint is 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 nibble 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 with abandon to make all kinds of delicious mint recipes. I particularly like to make tea with it, hot or iced!
Check out my very favorite teapot for making herbal tea here.
Turn it into mint pesto or add it to your favorite homemade cookies, brownies, or this decadent sounding fresh mint cake with with dark chocolate mint frosting.
Get creative and make mint infused honey, a gallon of mint wine, or chocolate mint extract.
This rhubarb mint jam sounds delicious, so does this traditional mint sauce for lamb. You can also just simply chop it up and add to salads or use it as a garnish.
Have a mint julep, mojito party, or raspberry mint infused wine, you deserve it!
See my post on 80+ Mint Recipes for more great ideas on how to use your mint!
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.
If you’re interested in learning more about herbal medicine, check out the awesome online courses from the Herbal Academy!
Still too scared to grow mint but want to enjoy all of its benefits? Order high quality, organic dried peppermint or spearmint from Mountain Rose Herbs (my favorite place to get organic dried herbs).
I hope this post has inspired you and given you some reasons to grow 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
- Preserving Mint for Food and Medicine
- More Mint Ideas
- Got Mint?
Do you grow mint in your garden? What is your favorite way to use it?
Victoria Banaszak says
If you are taking a pleasant walk and see mint and want just a sniff, do use caution. If it looks hairier than you think a mint plant should, then it is best not to touch it. I was on such a walk many years ago and grabbed said plant and found out what stinging nettles looks like. It was most unpleasant feeling for probably an hour or more.
I am now living in Maine and while the statement about ignoring and not watering your mint plant may be true here and regions like this, I assure you that is not the case in the desert region of Arizona.
I lived in Az most of my life. I have grown mint successfully in AZ, but like most plants there, mint must be cared for diligently or they will shrivel up and die. A novice planter may think by your comments, that the,’no care no water” approach also applies to Arizona. It does not.
My lambs ate all my mint, roots and all. Their breath was minty fresh for a few weeks. I need to plant more.
Teresa whitmore says
I just threw some old mint cutting out into a wooded lot behind my house. Is this a good or bad idea? I would love to see it grow, but don’t want it to be a problem.
I also planted my mint in a pot and put the pot in the ground. I left the bottom of the pot closed. The mint is fabulous. I watch it closely. I see runners that burrow into the ground. I simply clip them at the base of the stem.
That’s what we did. We also have a boxed off area in one of our beds, so it can’t spread. It smells sooo good to cut it and bring it into the kitchen
We had horses and our shoes always smelled of them, so my mother planted peppermint at the bottom of the steps to the backdoor. The mint wasn’t hurt by people tracking through it, and our mudroom smelled minty instead of manure-y!
I love this! What a great little story to tell.
Charles Profito says
You should plant mint where a there is a dripping faucet, It will be very happy
Nancy Johnson says
I love to gently crush 8-10 mint leaves with my fingers and put it in my daily water jug. Always tastes so fresh and since I have crohns disease I feel it helps with keeping my abdomen feeling well.
I feel like I am doing my mint so dirty…*sigh* I cut it down some and really feel bad about it. When does mint normally grow? I have two pots with mint in them. First time gardener here.. :)
All you did was give it a hair cut! It will come back from the root in spring. I love using my mint in a detox water ( water , lemon, cucumber & mint ). It versatile. Great in cooking . I live in a rural area and have rabbits, chickens, cats & dogs . My chickens & bunny’s eat it . Cats lay in it ( helps for fleas) . I drop a leaf in dogs water & helps their breath . Plus it’s planted in the field so smells great when we cut the grass . So don’t worry & look for it in spring
I wonder if I plant it in areas that I have trouble with weed control, would it take over in place of the weeds?
I have the same question!
Mary Pat says
Yes, it will drive out most weeds.
Im growing mint in a rock garden in the back of my property under some trees and I just put in some lemon balm back there too, so far its staying where I want it. I love it in ice water with lime (virgin mojito) and ice mint tea.
Do you know there is a Mojito mint. Grows great and will come back every year.
I use mint in Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), throw a tiny bit in chicken soup, , chocolate chip cookies, tabouhli, any dish with lamb. I use it in a lot of Greek and middle eastern dishes. I love mint. I hang big bunches upside down on an enclosed porch until it dry, then crumble it and store it for cooking.
This reminded me of my experiment with growing catnip in a raised bed. It burrowed down, went under a flagstone walkway and popped up five feet away through a couple of inches of mulch under a pine tree. After that heroic effort I didn’t have the heart to pull it out. It deserved to live!!
That is awesome… :)
It is suppose to deter snakes as well.planted some by my front door,don’t need to come out to a snake sunning it self.
well a month a go I found a 4 ft long black snake in the mint patch in my raised bed, so not so sure that myth is true.
Natasha Vink says
Mint isn’t supposed to, nor does it repel snakes. Sorry.
Great with ginger and boiled water for mint-ginger tea. I drink it every day. It’s also great for a fresh breath.
Jeannie Wright says
If you like tabouli like my family does, add mint and parsley together! Great taste and more authentic. Also great in tsatzki, the yogurt sauce inside gyros sandwiches! Yuuum!!!
Will mint grow in really hard places, I won’t have to babysit for bugs?
It’s currently growing out of control under my deck, it gets zero sun and thrives. So yes, lol
Kathy Lee says
I’m so glad I found this information on Pinterest, my husband and I bought a house with a lot of mint and we were digging up some of it because it was everywhere and we actually did what you said put it in a raised bed . your information was very helpful. NOW I think I’m going to enjoy this morning my hot tea and go get me some mint out of the garden thank you
Will planting spearmint amongst my flowers repel gophers ?
Well if it did I think it would be grown world wide, I’ve never seen a thing that gets rid of those darn things but cats. They sit and watch them come up out of the ground and jerk them out! I live outside of town and I have six grown cats out there and they bring me 3 gophers every morning! We have them everywhere in Texas. Get you some outside cats.
Can cats eat spearmint. I want to bring my plant in the house but not sure what will happen if my cats eats it. She already ate my Roses, silly girl.
Victoria Banaszak says
LOL My cat eats rose leaves too. They eat cat nip so I think some mint would be fine.
Actually, all plants with aromatic oils are toxic to cats – their livers can’t process the aromatics. That’s why herbal flea collars are a bad idea for cats. They probably won’t eat the mint in the house, and, although related, catnip is not as potent an aromatic.
Is it to late to plant herbs in South Carolina, for fully development???
I just planted some mint about a week ago and I am at the SC/GA border and it is thriving. I would say if you should be good to go!
I am container planting mint this year. Several years ago I was bombarded with peppermint in my yard. It went everywhere. All volunteer mixed in with a friends Hosta plants. Thought I would never get rid of it. I love the smell, just not the invasive, spreading habit.
My 10 favourite things to do with mint
But Janice, have you tried it in a Mojito? hahahaha
Haha Janice…..Mojitos are my favorite thing to use mint for too! I absolutely love growing a container of fresh mint 🍃on my patio spring through fall.
I grow a lot of chocolate mint and love it! I have made chocolate mint wine before and will do so again. It’s a favorite!
Wow that sounds yummy, where can I find a chocolate mint. Never seen one.
Jackie Sutt says
Got mine at Walmart last year, lol.
It’s growing in a container with a Never Die plant.
Daphne S. says
I’ve seen it at Lowe’s and home depot…good growing!
Please share your recipe for mint wine
Nancy Johnson says
Yes, please share that recipe.
Mary Ruth says
How do you make chocolate mint wine?
wow very nice information about mint is a medicinal valued plants and every one should know it in his courtyard.
Mint Tea is also an exceptional remedy for some UTIs.
Lisa H. says
Do you just dry the mint, then steeep?
I steep mine fresh
How do you use it for UTI
I had catnip in a raised planter bed in Colorado. In less than a year it had tunnelled downward, then horizontally under a flagstone walk, popping up under a pine tree ten feet away. It will be a long time before I trust anything in the mint family again.
Does mint act as a deterrent for deer and/ or bear?
Grow Forage Cook Ferment says
Deer for sure, I’m not sure about bears though!
Nancy Johnson says
No wonder the deer have stayed away from my hostas this year.
Carlos B. Marcelino Jr says
I need picture of different kinds of mint so that I could identify the mint I am planting
Sean Lin says
I find it troubling that my experience with a potted pepper-mint to be quite the contrary to your points. My mint couldn’t survive without direct sunlight, and it require water everyday. Could it be because that I live in Taiwan? I love mint but I just couldn’t get it going!
I second the advice from LeeAnn. I grew mint in my garden for years with zero spreading using similar approach. Use one of the standard black plastic pots all plants are sold in. use one that is fairly large, like 10 inches deep. Plant mint in the pot. Place pot in the ground leaving an inch or so of the pot exposed above ground. Keep an eye on it the first year to gain trust. I did not remove bottom of pot. I do same for ivy in flower beds to control spreading.
So glad I was looking thru these! Your planting mint in a pot, and then planting the pot in the ground sounds fantastic! I’ve avoided mint but gonna plant some now! Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks!