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How to Grow Mint Indoors (Step-by-Step Guide)

Lovely bright leaves of the mint plant growing in the garden

Introducing the Mint Plant!

I love mint, you love mint, everybody loves mint. Whether you’re tasting it in your chewing gum, in a mojito at happy hour, or you brush along a mint plant in a grocery store, both the fragrance and flavor will bring you to both a soothing and fresh place.

How lovely would it be to make a cup of fresh mint leaf tea? Or to pluck a fistful of mint to garnish a dessert or to finish off a cocktail? Luckily, growing mint indoors is done very easily and anyone can have their very own indoor mint plant.

Part of the genus mentha and the lamiaceae mint family, there are between 13 and 24 species of mint and tons of hybrids. This is because these interesting plants are able to hybridize naturally with other mint species where growing ranges overlap!

Through this article you will very quickly discover just how easy it is both to grow mint and to maintain mint. But first, let’s go through some preliminary information about these incredible herbs.

What do Mint Plants Look Like?

Looking down at lovely deep green mint leaves growing in abundance

Though it’s easy to pick out mint in the grocery store, it’s also helpful to be able to identify a mint plant that is growing in the wild!

Underneath the earth, mint plants grow from stolons that spread very quickly. Mint plants also grow in height super quickly and can obtain heights between 6 and 48 inches tall.

Erect, branching and square shaped stems are covered with leaves arranged in opposite pairs. The leaf, shape, size, and color will vary according to the specific species.

Mint leaves can be oblong, ovular, or lanceolate and they are usually covered in small hairs. A leaf will usually have a serrated margin, and they can be a variety of colors from dark green, to purple, blue, and sometimes even yellow.

Mint is an exclusively perennial plant, meaning that it will continue to bloom year after year as long as its ideal growing conditions are maintained. They bear clusters of flowers that are either white or purple.

How is Mint Used?

Lovely bowl of harvested mint sitting in wooden bowl

Culinary – whether you are using fresh mint leaves or dried mint, this is a herb that has a very long culinary history. Mint can be used both in sweet dishes and savory dishes alike.

Mint is most commonly used to make teas, jellies and jams, candies, ice cream, chewing gum, tooth paste, and cocktails like the mint julep and mojito. Have you ever had fresh mint tea? Get into it!

Medicinal – mint leaves contain menthol, which is the compound that is responsible for that fresh flavor and mouth feel. It is also the main component for peppermint essential oil.

Mint essential oil is known for helping with digestive issues and abdominal pain. It is also used in aromatherapy and has soothing and calming effects.

Companion Planting – herbs with very fragrant leaves are known as being essential when it comes to companion planting. This is because their fragrant leaves deter unwanted insects and attract beneficial insects.

Gardeners will often plant mint alongside cabbages and tomatoes, as they are able to repel the exact pests that tend to bother those vegetables.

What are some Notable Mint Varieties?

Gorgeous field of wild growing mint plants in the sun

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) – peppermint is a hybrid mint variety between watermint and spearmint. This is a very well known type of mint.

Peppermint is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant that can grow to be anywhere from 12-35 inches tall. It bears dark green leaves and purple flowers.

Pineapple Mint (Mentha Suaveolens) – also known as apple mint or woolly mint, pineapple mint is known as being a wonderfully fruity and minty mint variety.

Pineapple mint can grow to be 16-39 inches tall and bears light green foliage with white or light pink flowers. It’s known for being very easy to grow.

Orange Mint (Mentha Piperita Citrata) – orange mint is a mint hybrid that is known for having a wonderful fragrance and flavor of mint mixed with citrus with lavender notes.

Orange mint is a prized culinary herb and bears deep green leaves accompanied by light pink flowers. There is a very popular of this variety called ‘chocolate mint’. ‘Chocolate mint’ is said to smell and taste just like an After Eight cookie!

Common Mint (Mentha Spicata) – also known as garden mint or lamb mint, common mint is the type of mint that you are most likely going to see in a grocery store.

Common mint is a perennial herb that can grow to be 12-40 inches tall, and the leaves and stems are covered in tiny soft hairs.

Where do Mint Plants Come From?

Mint plants can grow literally everywhere. Their native growing range spans across Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, though they have become naturalized in many other ranges as well.

When growing wild, mint plants can found growing prosperously near bodies of water. They tend to grow best in moist soil, so look along lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds for wild mint.

It’s also important to note that when grown unchecked, mint plants can very quickly become invasive. They spread prolifically both underground and throwing spreading seed.

Make sure to do some research before deciding to grow mint outdoors on whether or not it’s invasive in your area. If you’re growing mint as an indoor plant, you don’t need to worry about it spreading seed indoors.

How do you Grow Mint Indoors?

Young mint plant growing on a sunny windowsill in white pot

Now it’s the time for what we’ve all been waiting for: learning how to grow mint indoors. This can be done super easily, and mint is one of the easiest herbs both to propagate and to care for.

Growing mint indoors can happen either through planting mint seed or through planting mint cutting. Most gardeners will avoid sowing seed because mint seeds are highly variable and some varieties have sterile seeds.

For this reason, we will go through growing mint through cuttings. This is a very effective method and a mint cutting will grow all year round. First, you will need a few things:

  1. mint cuttings
  2. well draining potting soil
  3. deep pots
  4. liquid fertilizer
  5. clear plastic bags

Growing in Soil – mint is not particularly picky about the type of soil that it lives in as long as it is well draining. They don’t need it, but potting soil amended with organic matter will make them happy as well.

Just make sure that you have a pot that is big enough for the plant. Mint grows pretty deep roots, so ideally you will have a pot that is at least 10 inches deep.

When you first plant your cutting it will be happy to have some extra warmth and moisture. Placing a clear plastic bag over the pot will help keep it warm in there for the mint seedling, and it will also keep soil moist for longer.

Growing in Water – you can also grow a mint cutting in a clear glass of water! It was grow endlessly in water as long as it is placed in a sunny window.

Always ensure to be regularly switching out for fresh water if your mint is growing in a glass. If you ever decide to transplant to soil, you will notice an explosion of growth.

Sun Exposure – one main thing that a mint plant will require is sunlight. They grow their best in full sun exposure, though they are some varieties that are tolerant to partial shade or indirect sunlight.

Simply place your mint plant in a window that is south facing and receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you don’t have a window that receives direct sunlight, you may have to opt for a grow light.

A grow light should be placed around 5 inches directly above the mint seedling. The growth habit of the plant will tell you if the distance is correct or not. Set the timer for 10 hours per day.

Watering – another thing to note about mint plants is that they perform their absolute best when they’re able to grow in moist soil. This is clear by the fact that they will grow near bodies of water when growing wild.

It is also important not to over-water your plant. Stick your finger in the soil to check out the moisture level. It the soil is dry a couple of inches deep, it’s time to water your mint plant.

Fertilizer – though not entirely necessary, a mint plant can benefit from receiving fertilizer at the beginning of its growing season. Simply choose a well balanced liquid fertilizer.

Harvesting – harvesting mint can pretty much happen at any time of year depending on went you planted your mint and when its growing season was.

It’s best to harvest mint leaves before the plant has gone to flower, as the flowering of the plant tends to drain the energy away from the leaves, therefore altering the taste.

Harvest mint leaves that are larger and leave the smaller ones to continue growing. You can either harvest individual leaves are take any entire stalk.

It’s also always good to substantially cut the plant back a few times a year in order to encourage new growth. This will also encourage a full and bushy growth habit.

Bright fresh mint leaves growing in a container

FAQs

Are mint plants deer resistant?

Something wonderful about growing fragrant herbs is the fact that they are resistant to grazing from larger pests like deer, rabbits, and squirrels. Those fragrant fresh leaves are exactly the type of snack that they don’t like!

What are the damaging agents to mint plants?

Be mindful that though they are very easy to grow, mint plants are prone to issues like mint rust, aphids, and whiteflies. Take care not to water the fresh leaves to avoid mint rust, and plant alongside lemon balm to deal with aphids and whiteflies.

Are mint plants perennials?

The vast majority of mint varieties are a perennial plant type, meaning that they will continue to grow and produce flower blossoms year after year as long as their ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

What USDA growing zone can mint plants grow in?

Mint plants can grow happily outdoors all year round in USDA growing zones 3 through 8, but should be kept as an indoor plant for the colder months outside of those zones.

Are mint plants an invasive species?

Mint plants are prolific growers and can very quickly become invasive if they are left unchecked. They can take over any garden or wild space both through spreading seed or through their underground stolons.

How often should a mint plant be watered?

An important thing to note about mint plants is that they perform their absolute best when they’re able to grow in moist soil. This is clear by the fact that they will grow near bodies of water when growing wild.

It is also important not to over-water your plant. Stick your finger in the soil to check out the moisture level. It the soil is dry a couple of inches deep, it’s time to water your mint plant.

When should mint be harvested?

Harvesting mint can pretty much happen at any time of year depending on went you planted your mint and when its growing season was.

It’s best to harvest mint leaves before the plant has gone to flower, as the flowering of the plant tends to drain the energy away from the leaves, therefore altering the taste.

Harvest mint leaves that are larger and leave the smaller ones to continue growing. You can either harvest individual leaves are take any entire stalk.

It’s also always good to substantially cut the plant back a few times a year in order to encourage new growth. This will also encourage a full and bushy growth habit.

Do mint plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

One main thing that a mint plant will require is sunlight. They grow their best in full sun exposure, though they are some varieties that are tolerant to partial shade or indirect sunlight.

Simply place your mint plant in a window that is south facing and receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you don’t have a window that receives direct sunlight, you may have to opt for a grow light.

A grow light should be placed around 5 inches directly above the mint seedling. The growth habit of the plant will tell you if the distance is correct or not. Set the timer for 10 hours per day.

Where can I buy mint seeds?

Mint seeds or cuttings can easily be found in nearly any garden centre or nursery, or you can order seeds online.

What is the ideal soil type for a mint plant?

Mint is not particularly picky about the type of soil that it lives in as long as it is well draining. They don’t need it, but potting soil amended with organic matter will make them happy as well.

Just make sure that you have a pot that is big enough for the plant. Mint grows pretty deep roots, so ideally you will have a pot that is at least 10 inches deep.

What is the easiest way to propagate mint?

The easiest way to propagate mint is through taking a stem cutting. Taking a healthy cutting with a few leaves on it is a very quick way to propagate a plant. Potted mint will grow happily indoors.

How tall do mint plants get?

Mint plants are pretty variable and depending on the mint variety that you have, the plant can grow to be anywhere from 6 to 48 inches in height.