Skip to content

How to Grow Excellent Mints from Seeds or Cuttings

  • Bob Styer
  • Herbs
Mint Being Picked In A Garden

A refreshing addition to iced teas and other beverages (mint julep or mojito, anyone?) as well as salads, yogurts, hot teas, and desserts.  Mints are perennials; with how they spread, you’ll have a large plot in no time.  You can control the spread by growing mints in pots.

As a companion plant, mints are pest-repelling and also attract beneficial insects.  Growing mints from seeds or propagating mints from cuttings are two easy ways to start.

Types of Mints

As with many herbs, there are hundreds of varieties of mints, so it would be impossible to name them all.  We’ll have to make it easy and discuss some popular varieties useful in food preparation.

Mints like moister growing conditions than other herbs, but not soaking wet or boggy soil.  They also like partial shade to full sun.

A characteristic of most mints is that they can become invasive.  They can spread fast by underground runners, so it is best to grow them in pots to keep them under control.

If you want to grow mints in a garden bed it should be separate from other plants. I’ve had personal experience with this problem.

In my younger days during the previous century, my mother set one peppermint plant in the ground by the backyard faucet.  This single plant spread out and continued to grow for over 30 years.

A few years after planting, we had to start cutting back on the shoots and digging up the roots.  If we didn’t, the mint would have grown along the entire back wall of the house.  This peppermint forest was still alive when we sold the house after Mom and Dad passed away.

If you have an area that needs ground cover, mints can do the job.  You can mow them down, and they’ll continue to sprout from the roots.  Mints aren’t very picky about the soil they grow in.

Be careful because mints like to cross-pollinate with each other.  If you plan on growing different types of mint, make sure you plant them far away from each other.  This will prevent them from mixing pollen and getting undesirable scents and flavors.

Here’s a short list of some of the culinary mints:

  • Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens). This plant has wooly stems and very fragrant leaves.  The leaves are usually lighter green than most mints.  It can reach 2 feet tall with white or pale pink flowers.  Hardy in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita citrata). Unfortunately, the “chocolate” in its name comes from the aroma, not the taste.  It actually has a somewhat orange flavor.  If someone ever develops a mint with a mint–chocolate taste, they deserve to win the Nobel Prize!  This variety has dark green leaves and bears lavender flowers.  Propagation has to be by cuttings or root division since it doesn’t produce viable seeds.  It grows to a height of 1 – 2 feet and is hardy in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Cuban Mint (Mentha villosa). Also known as mojito mint, it’s the “proper” mint for making an authentic mojito.  It’s also great in teas.  Hardiness Zones 5 – 9 with a height of 18 – 24 inches.
  • Ginger Mint (Mentha gracilis). This variety has bright yellow stripes on the leaves.  It’s a cross between spearmint and corn mint.  This plant doesn’t produce viable seeds, so it has to propagate by cuttings or root division.  Hardy in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Lavender Mint (Mentha piperita lavendula). This mint has a red stem like peppermint.  It’ll be happy growing under shade trees and shrubs if it gets some sunlight daily.  Suitable for Zones 5 – 9.
  • Margarita Mint (Mentha “Margarita”). This mint has this trade name so it would flavor margaritas.  It has lime-scented leaves, making it a perfect addition to this popular drink.  The flowers are small and colored lilac or purple.  Unlike other mints, this one spreads by above-ground runners rather than below-ground runners.  The runners are slow-spreaders, and they’ll root wherever they contact the ground.  This mint will grow 6 – 12 inches tall and is happy in Zones 5 – 8.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita). This mint has pink flowers and rounded leaves that sometimes have more of a lance shape.  Peppermint doesn’t produce viable seeds, so it has to propagate by cuttings or root division.  It will grow to a height of 1 – 2 feet and is hardy in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Pineapple Mint (Mentha suaveolus variegate). This mint is often used as a decorative plant because of its variegated leaves.  It also has a fascinating family history since it’s derived from apple mint.  This mint has the same culinary uses as other mints but also makes a great garnish due to its beautiful leaves.  The mature height is 2 – 3 feet, and it’s hardy in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata). This mint has trademark spearpoint leaves and bears pink to pale violet flowers.  It’ll grow 1 – 2 feet tall and maintain hardiness in Zones 5 – 9.
  • Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis). This mint is native to North America and grows in most of the US and Canada.  It will grow to 18 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4 – 10.
Chocolate Mint Plant - 2 Plants -100% Organic Non-GMO
Chocolate Mint Plant - 2 Plants -100% Organic Non-GMO
$30.40
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Sereniseed Certified Organic Peppermint Seeds (2-Pack) – 100% Non GMO, Open Pollinated – Grow Guide
Sereniseed Certified Organic Peppermint Seeds (2-Pack) – 100% Non GMO, Open Pollinated – Grow Guide
Price not available
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Everwilde Farms - 1000 Spearmint Herb Seeds - Gold Vault Jumbo Seed Packet
Everwilde Farms - 1000 Spearmint Herb Seeds - Gold Vault Jumbo Seed Packet
$3.48
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18

Would you like to learn about other herbs? Check out our post “The Complete Guides to Growing Culinary Herbs” for links to those articles.

Growing Mints from Seed

Mints that produce seeds have very tiny seeds.  All mints can propagate by cuttings or root division.  The soil should be rich and well-draining, with a pH of 6.0 – 7.0.

Mix in some well-aged compost to improve soil fertility.  Mints prefer full sun for 6 – 8 hours daily but tolerate partial shade.

Seeds can be sown outside after the last spring frost.  Loosen the ground and spread the mint seeds on the surface.  Mint seeds need light to sprout, so they have less chance to grow if they’re covered with soil.

Mints like moist but well-draining soil; the seeds should germinate in 1 – 2 weeks. Once the seedlings get 3 or 4 leaves, thin them so they’re 18 inches apart.

Seed Needs, Mint Seed Packet Collection (4 Individual Varieties of Mint Seeds for Planting) Heirloom, Non-GMO & Untreated - Spearmint, Peppermint, Lemon Mint and Pennyroyal Mint
Seed Needs, Mint Seed Packet Collection (4 Individual Varieties of Mint Seeds for Planting) Heirloom, Non-GMO & Untreated - Spearmint, Peppermint, Lemon Mint and Pennyroyal Mint
$9.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
(6 Variety) Mint Seeds for Planting Outdoors or Indoors - Peppermint, Spearmint, Mountain Mint, Wild Mint, Anise Hyssop, & Common Mint | Non-GMO, Heirloom Herb Seed,Grow Your Own Mint Plants Live
(6 Variety) Mint Seeds for Planting Outdoors or Indoors - Peppermint, Spearmint, Mountain Mint, Wild Mint, Anise Hyssop, & Common Mint | Non-GMO, Heirloom Herb Seed,Grow Your Own Mint Plants Live
$17.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Sow Right Seeds - Mint Garden Seed Collection - Catnip, Mint, Bergamot, Horsemint, and Lemon Balm - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds with Instructions for Planting Indoors or Outdoors - Great Gardening Gift
Sow Right Seeds - Mint Garden Seed Collection - Catnip, Mint, Bergamot, Horsemint, and Lemon Balm - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds with Instructions for Planting Indoors or Outdoors - Great Gardening Gift
$9.94
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18

Growing Mints in Pots

Use good quality potting soil mixed with well-aged compost to start mints in pots.  Put about three seeds in the eah pot to increase the chances of germination. Start the seeds indoors 8 – 10 weeks before the last spring frost.

Move the pots outside for a week to allow the plants to harden.  After hardening, transplant the plants to the garden or bigger pots.

If you plan to keep the mints in pots, you could save a few steps and plant the seeds into the final pots at the beginning.  Gardeners plant mints in pots anyway since that keeps them from spreading. Please ensure the pots have drainage holes.

After a few years, the mints will outgrow the pots.  When that happens, remove the plants and cut them back by root division.  Fill the pot with new soil mixed with compost and replant the smaller plant.

Overfertilization will cause mint plants to distort when growing or even die off.  Add organic fertilizer once a year when new growth starts in the spring or when the mints are first planted.

Propagating Mints from Cuttings

The easiest ways to grow mints are by cuttings and root division.  They seem to have a great will to keep living, even from a stem or a piece of root.

The best time to take cuttings is in late spring or early summer before the flowers bloom.  Take the cuttings 4 – 6 inches long and remove the lower third of the leaves.  Then place the cuttings in a glass with one inch of water.

Change the water when it gets cloudy, and in a couple of weeks, the roots will be a few inches long.  When healthy roots are present, place the cuttings in pots with well-aged compost.  Keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times.

After a week or two, transplant the plants to their final pot or the garden.

Propagating Mints from Root Division

Mints propagate by sending runners (rhizomes) through the ground.  The rhizomes send out hair roots and vertical stems.  If you dig up a rhizome and cut off a piece a few inches long, you can replant it.  In a couple of weeks, you’ll have more mint plants.

Root division is also possible by separating plants from the root clump.  Transplant the separate plants somewhere else, and they’ll start spreading.

Harvesting Mints

Prune mints often by cutting the tops of the plants.  That way, you’ll get a regular harvest, and the plants will grow fuller and more flavorful.

Cut the plants back when they go dormant at the end of the growing season.  This happens in the late fall or early winter in cold climates but during the summer months in very hot areas.

Allow some plants to flower because they’ll attract honeybees and other pollinators.  That makes it a win for your whole garden and the nature around you.

Harvest mint as you need it once the true leaves appear. You could even snip off whole stems with leaves.

To do this, cut back whole plants to the lowest layer of leaves.  Do this before the plants flower to guarantee the best flavor.

Storing Mints

To store fresh mints in the refrigerator, do the following:

  • Loosely wrap fresh mint sprigs in a damp paper towel.
  • Place them in a Ziploc bag and seal it part way (for air circulation). Store in the crisper drawer.
  • Another option is to put the sprigs in a glass with about an inch of water
  • Cover the sprigs with a loose-fitting bag.
  • Change the water when it gets cloudy.

Mints will keep in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks as long as they stay moist.

To freeze fresh mints, do the following:

  • Rinse them in cold water and spin dry them or pat them dry with towels.
  • Remove the stems and chop the leaves.
  • Place the chopped leaves in an ice cube tray (1 – 2 teaspoons per compartment).
  • Top off each cell with water.
  • After the cubes freeze, remove them from the trays.
  • Put the cubes in airtight freezer bags or containers for up to three months.
  • Thaw out the cubes, strain the mint, and use them as needed in beverages and food.

Freeze whole leaves by removing them from the stems and placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Freezing will take 2 – 3 hours, then place the leaves in freezer bags and keep them frozen for up to 3 months.

Drying Mints

To dry mints, first cut off the entire mint plant about 2/3 down the main stem. You can cut the whole plant if it’s starting to form flower buds.  Wash the mint in cold water and dry it with towels or hang it upside down until the water’s gone.

Air Drying Mints

Hang the mints upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area and cover them with paper bags to keep out the dust.  The leaves will be dry and crumbly in about two weeks.

Drying Mints in the Oven

For oven drying, set the oven to low heat.  Strip off the leaves and put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  The leaves will dry in 2 – 4 hours, but check them while drying to make sure they don’t scorch.

Drying Mints in the Microwave

When drying in the microwave, strip off the leaves and put them in a single layer on paper towels.  Microwave the leaves for 1 minute and check the dryness.  Keep microwaving in 10-second increments until the leaves are crumbly.

Sale
COSORI Food Dehydrator for Jerky, Holds 7.57lb Raw Beef with Large 6.5ft² Drying Space, 6 Stainless Steel 13'x12' Trays, 165°F Dehydrated Dryer for Dog Treats, Herbs, Meat, Fruit, and Yogurt, Silver
19,579 Reviews
COSORI Food Dehydrator for Jerky, Holds 7.57lb Raw Beef with Large 6.5ft² Drying Space, 6 Stainless Steel 13″x12″ Trays, 165°F Dehydrated Dryer for Dog Treats, Herbs, Meat, Fruit, and Yogurt, Silver
  • 𝗕𝗜𝗚𝗚𝗘𝗥 𝗧𝗛𝗔𝗡 𝟳 𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗬𝗦: With 6 stainless steel trays providing 6.5 ft² of drying space, this dehydrator is 27% larger than standard 7-tray models, allowing you to dry more food at once
  • 𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗘 𝗣𝗢𝗪𝗘𝗥𝗙𝗨𝗟 & 𝗘𝗙𝗙𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗘𝗡𝗧: Equipped with a 600W motor, rear-mounted drying fan, and upgraded airflow technology for faster, more even drying without manual intervention
  • 𝗦𝗨𝗣𝗘𝗥 𝗤𝗨𝗜𝗘𝗧 𝗢𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡: Features an advanced brushless motor with noise levels below 48dB, letting you dehydrate your food quietly—even overnight
  • 𝗙𝗨𝗟𝗟𝗬 𝗘𝗤𝗨𝗜𝗣𝗣𝗘𝗗: Comes with 6 dishwasher-safe trays, 1 mesh screen, 1 fruit roll sheet, 1 user manual, and a 50-recipe cookbook. Explore additional accessories by searching for ‘COSORI Dehydrator Accessories’, or ‘C267-2MS’, ‘C267-2FR’, ‘C267-2ST’
  • 𝗣𝗥𝗘𝗖𝗜𝗦𝗘 𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗧𝗥𝗢𝗟: Set the timer for up to 48 hours and choose your desired drying temperature between 95°F–165°F accurately down to the degree using the digital control panel

Drying Mints in a Dehydrator

Using a dehydrator, strip the leaves from the cuttings or whole plants.  Place the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.  Follow the instructions for your dehydrator.

After the leaves are dry, you can keep them whole or crush them with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.  Store the dried mints in air-tight containers in a cool, dry, dark place.

Dried mints are best if you use them within six months, but they can last 1 – 3 years.  They won’t spoil, but the flavor will decrease.

Mint Companion Plants

  • Apple mint will improve the flavor of cole crops, tomatoes, and peas.
  • Mints deter pests like the flea beetle, carrot root fly, and onion fly. This makes them friendly to cole crops, radishes, carrots, and onions.
  • Other plants that like being around mints include beets, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, squash, and peas.
  • Most mints attract honeybees, butterflies, and birds but repel deer and rabbits.

Pests and Diseases of Mints

Mint borers are the larvae of a light brown moth, and they affect spearmint and peppermint.  The adult moths are only alive for a week and lay many eggs on the leaves.

After the larvae hatch, they feed on the leaves for a few days. Then they drop to the ground, chewing up root hairs and rhizomes.  This can last for up to three months.  To keep the mint borers under control, use many applications of parasitic nematodes.

Remove aphids and spider mites by spraying them off with water.  Kill aphids by spraying them with organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Mint rust is a fungus (Puccinia menthae) that can affect any member of the mint family.  It shows up as small dusty pustules under the leaves, which can be yellow, brown, or bright orange.  This fungus kills large areas of leaves.  Remove any plants with the fungus, including the roots, and destroy them.

For healthy plants, immerse their roots in water heated to about 110o F for 10 minutes.  Also, pour hot water on the soil the plants came from.  Then cool the roots with cool water and return the plants to the soil.  This should control the fungus.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t a problem growing mints.  The problem is keeping them under control since they’ll gladly take over almost any area where you put them in the ground.  If you come home someday and find them sitting on your couch eating your cheese puffs, it’s too late.  I can’t help you then.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This product presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

Back To Top
Search