Mint is an easy-to-grow perennial herb that thrives outdoors under a wide variety of soil conditions and climates. But if you don’t have outdoor space or good weather, you can also grow mint indoors. With a little knowledge and not much effort, mint can be a delicious staple in your indoor herb garden. Here is what you need to know about how to grow mint indoors.
Growing Mint Indoors
You might want to try growing mint indoors for a number of reasons. For example, if you do not have space for an outdoor garden, a windowsill garden might be just the thing you need to add some fresh, home-grown food to your table.
You can grow mint indoors so that it is easily accessible from your kitchen, meaning you will have a supply of fresh mint leaves just a few feet away from your cooking space at all times.
Mint will help to keep pests away from your living space, the fragrance is a repellant for some rodents, insects, and other pests. Lastly, why not learn how to grow mint indoors just to have a pretty, fresh herb brighten up your home and breathe a bit of life into the room.
Whatever your reasons for growing mint, keep reading to find out the perfect conditions your mint will need to grow and thrive.
Mint Growing Conditions
Like all plants, mint has a few basic needs for it to thrive. But to be completely honest, this herb is not too fussy and will grow just about anywhere it gets enough light and water.
The most important parts of growing mint are giving it enough sunshine, water, good soil, and a pot with good drainage. Once you put these things in place, growing mint will be easy.
How Much Sun Does Mint Need
Outdoors, mint grows best in full sun. However, it also can thrive in partial shade. Some varieties, especially those with variegations, like pineapple mint, might scorch in the full afternoon sunshine or lose the attractive markings that make them so distinctive.
Five hours of direct sun is great for mint outdoors. This is good news for the indoor grower because it means mint can thrive inside with lower light conditions.
You will need to find a nice bright window. Ideally, you want east-facing during spring and summer and west or south-facing window during fall and winter. As long as the sunlight isn’t blocked by trees or other buildings, this should be plenty of light for your mint to flourish.
Why not experiment to find just the right window for your mint plants to grow, perhaps try a few different plants spread around the house.
If the sun is too hot coming in through the window, and the plants develop scorched or brown spots, move the plant back slightly or put it in another window altogether. Turn your mint pot regularly in order to keep it growing evenly on all sides.
It’s possible to grow mint indoors using grow lights. LED, HID or fluorescent grow-lights are readily available online and are reasonably priced for small undemanding plants such as mint.
Generally speaking, grow lights need to be very close to the plant, roughly about one or two feet above the plant. This isn’t always practical under normal circumstances but there are plenty of purpose build units to grow herbs and other small plants indoors, so explore this option if you’re struggling with enough natural light.
You can even put your lights on a timer so you do not have to remember to turn them on and off each day. Just water and feed them.
How Often To Water Mint
Correct watering is one of the most important considerations when growing any kind of plant, especially mint. How often to water mint depends on a few factors.
Mint prefers moderately damp soil, but never soggy. You can achieve this by keeping it in a pot with a drainage hole and using a well-draining potting mix.
This will keep the water from sitting around the roots and causing root rot. Root rot will kill your mint plant. A shallow pot is fine because mint roots do not grow very deeply. A wide planter is much more efficient for mint than a deep one, as the mint will send out runners and spread.
If possible, place your pot in your sink or outdoors when watering. Run water gently into the soil until it starts to run out of the bottom of the pot. Then, allow the excess water to drain away.
You will probably not need to water your mint again until the top half-inch or so of soil begins to feel dry. Just poke your fingertip into the soil to see if you can still feel dam soil, if you can leave it until it begins to dry, then water it.
If your mint plant looks droopy and the soil feels dry, give it a long slow drink and make sure the soil becomes soft and damp again. Sometimes, the soil gets hard as it dries out. Meaning the hard soil can’t absorb water quickly, so you may need to water very slowly if this happens.
Just sit it in water and let it soak until wet through, then drain off the excess water by leaving it on the draining board for five minutes of so.
If you live in a dry climate or have dry air due to the heating in your home, you may want to add some extra humidity around the plant to keep its foliage green and fragrant.
You can do this by grouping several plants together or by setting the pot on a pebble tray filled with water. The pebbles will keep the pot from sitting directly in the water, but the water in the tray will add humidity right around the plant.
How To Grow Mint Indoors From Seed
If you don’t already have mint plants growing, you can start them from seed. Although this can be a little bit trickier than propagating mint from cuttings, however, germinating from seed is possible if you have the know-how.
Planting Mint Seeds
If you are going to plant your mint outdoors, you would probably start your mint plants from seed indoors about six to eight weeks before your last frost date. However, if you are going to be growing your mint indoors, it does not matter what time of year you start your seeds.
Just plant them whenever you are ready for them to begin to grow, with just one caveat. The brighter summer sun will give your seedlings a stronger start than the winter sunshine, but they will still germinate and grow nonetheless.
Start your seeds in peat pots, small containers, or flats of prepared soil. The best medium to start your mint seeds is to use a sterilized seed starting soil.
You can make your own by sterilizing your soil yourself, or you can purchase ready-made bags of sterilized seed starting soil. The benefit of this type of soil is that it helps to protect your seedlings from diseases and problems such as damping off or fungus.
If you want to sterilize your own soil, you can put small batches of soil in the microwave in plastic bags for several minutes, making sure it gets hot enough to destroy bacteria. Allow it to cool completely before planting seeds in it. Alternatively, you could place soil in a baking dish and cover it with foil and bake it for the same effect. Keep in mind that this will leave an odor in your kitchen.
Place your planting medium in the desired containers and wet it down until it is damp but not soggy. The seeds need moisture to germinate, but if they are too wet they will rot or mold instead. After you have your planting medium ready, you are ready to sow your mint seeds.
Mint seeds are tiny and can be difficult to control. Gently sprinkle the seeds evenly across your planting medium. You can sow them up to ¼ inch or about half a centimeter deep or simply press the seeds gently into the soil. Keep the soil damp but not soggy.
Germination should happen in 10 to 15 days under ideal conditions.
You’ll need to keep the seeds in a warm location. If you don’t have a warm spot, you can use seed mats to keep the seeds warm.
Place the mat under your seeds and turn it on. More expensive models tend to have a thermostat that you can adjust, or the lesser expensive models will raise the temperature under the seeds by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit or 12 degrees Celsius. This will help your seeds germinate faster in cooler weather.
To help keep the humidity and warmth in, you can cover the flats with a clear lid or a light layer of plastic.
The seedlings will first get two small leaves, called cotyledons. Once the seedlings are a couple of inches tall and have several true leaves, you can thin out the smaller, weaker seedlings by carefully pulling them out or snipping them off with scissors. You can carefully transplant them into larger pots, as well.
Growing Mint From Cuttings
Sometimes it can be difficult to get mint seeds to germinate and grow. So if you’re new to gardening or growing, you can propagate them very easily through cuttings or division. These methods are easier, faster, and will lead to quicker mint harvests.
How To Propagate Mint
If you want to propagate mint from existing plants, you can do this easily via one of two different methods.
The first method is by division. This is simply going to the mint plant in the garden and dividing it to create multiple plants. You should only do this with an existing, well-established mint plant. The second method is to take cuttings. Let’s run through both options.
To divide mint plants, you should have a good size clump. Take a shovel and cut through the runners and stems to create a section about one square foot, if possible. Smaller sections can grow, but larger sections have more success. Dig down below the roots so you can get as many roots as possible.
Mint roots are shallow, so you will not have to dig too deeply. The mint plants that are left behind will quickly spread to fill in the hole you have made.
Simply transplant the division into a pot with well-draining soil and give it a good drink. The plant may go into shock for a few days. It might look slightly sad and droop, or it may lose a little color, but it should perk up after a few days.
If you don’t want to divide your mint plants, either because the original pant is too small or you don’t want the mess, you can easily grow mint plants from stem cuttings.
Taking Mint Cuttings
It is very easy to grow mint from cuttings. This is a great choice because you can taste the mint plant to be sure you like the flavor and variety. You will get the same flavor from the propagated plant, however, if you grow mint from seeds, you might end up with a slightly different taste. It is also less expensive if you take cuttings from a friend’s plant rather than purchasing new ones.
This is my favorite as its super easy and you can see stuff happen right before your eyes.
Taking a Cutting
To take the cutting, you will want to cut off approximately five or six inches (12 to 15 centimeters) from a fresh tip of an established plant Use a clean sharp blade or scissors. You really want a clean cut to avoid any risk of infection or damage to the delicate plant material.
Remove Lower Leaves
Cut just below a pair of leaves, then remove the lower leaves to leave two to four pairs of leaves on the cutting. The spot where you remove the leaves will be little appendages called nodes. This is where the new roots will shoot out from.
Place in Water
Place the cuttings in a jar or glass filled with water. You’ll want to put this in a sunny window. Replace the water regularly so it doesn’t turn foul and kill the cuttings, or dry out.
Allow the plant to remain in the jar until the roots are several inches long. This usually takes about a week. They look like long thing white string or thick hairs, coming out from the base of the cutting.
After the roots have grown about an inch or more, you can plant your cuttings into a pot with good drainage and well-draining potting soil. Keep the soil damp but do not allow it to be soggy.
I usually pinch off the top tip of the plant to encourage new shoots giving bushy growth.
8 Best Types Of Mint To Grow
When people talk about mint, they usually are referring to sweet mint or common mint. This mint variety is easy to find and easy to grow. It is often used in cooking. However, this species of mint is actually a member of the family Lamiaceae, which includes other kitchen herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, and a number of varieties of mint plants.
When grown outside, these hardy perennials are usually the first to come back in the spring, although they can also grow year-round in warm climates, which makes them ideal for growing inside, as well. There are many species of mint available. Here are a few types of mint to try.
Peppermint is a common mint plant to grow. It is technically a hybrid and was created by crossing spearmint with watermint. Peppermint is also known as mentha x piperita. Peppermint is often grown for its essential oil and used for flavoring toothpaste and cosmetics. Peppermint is said to help focus and possibly treat headaches. It can be brewed into a refreshing tea and added to beverages.
Spearmint is known by a number of different names, including garden mint and mentha spicata. Spearmint is a stronger version of mint and is often used for flavoring food, teas, breath mints, and gum.
Mojito Mint Plant
Mojito mint gets its name because it is often used to make the famous drink, mojitos. Mojito mint is milder in flavor than spearmint and has a slightly citrus taste. The leaves are large and can be muddled for beverages or made into mint jelly or tea.
Sweet Mint Plant
Sweet mint is the same as common mint. It has bright green leaves and a moderately strong mint flavor. It’s great for cooking, grows easily, and spreads quickly in the garden.
Orange Mint Plant
Orange mint has a strong sweet fragrance with a hint of citrus blossoms. It also has a slightly sour taste. Orange mint is great for garnishing desserts, making jelly, and steeping into beverages. It has deep green leaves that are smoother than other mint varieties.
Moroccan Mint Plant
Moroccan mint is not as intense as spearmint and grows in a more compact shape than other varieties of mint. This compact plant is great for growing indoors. It has bright green, toothed leaves. The purple flowers are edible and make a pretty garnish on salads.
Apple Mint Plant
Apple mint is slightly different because it has wooly stems and white or pink, rather than purple, flowers. It is also known as fuzzy mint or wooly mint. It was first introduced into the United States from Europe.
Pineapple Mint Plant
Pineapple mint has stunning leaf variegations of yellow and white. Although this variety is pretty to look at, it is not as tasty to eat as other types of mint. The taste is slightly bitter.
Mint leaves can be harvested at any time, especially if you just need a few to garnish a recipe or top off a salad. However, if you are going to dry your mint, you can harvest large parts of the plant several times a year.
To remove leaves, gently pluck off the leaves you wish to use, being careful not to bend or break the stems. If you want to use large amounts of mint, you can use scissors to cut the mint back to the desired height.
Do not take more than 2/3 of the plant at any one time. This will allow your mint plant to regrow quickly. Don’t be too concerned, though. Mint is hard to kill and grows vigorously, so even if you over-harvest it, just leave it alone for a while and it should regrow from the roots.
- Mint can be dried by hanging it upside down in clumps.
- Tie the stems with twine and hang them from the ceiling, if possible.
- Keep the drying mint out of direct sunlight and in a warm, dry room.
- Good air circulation will help the mint dry faster.
You can also dry mint using a dehydrator, just follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Once the mint is dry, you can easily store it in mason jars or plastic bags away from light and humidity.
How To Grow Mint Indoors Summary
So there we go! You now know how to grow mint indoors and which varieties to check out.
It’s not as difficult as you thought. In fact, mint is a fabulous resilient herb to grow and anyone can try it. Just follow our simple guidelines of 5+ hours of sunlight, moist but well-drained soil, and a little bit of plant food every now and then.
Be sure to try out as many varieties as possible to find the one that suits your needs best, whether you mixing cocktails or making salads, there’s a mint plant fit for the job.