Growing mint: where, how & good companions
Mint is a popular, refreshing herb that no garden should be without, and growing mint is easier than you think.
Mint (Mentha), once established in your garden, is a relatively undemanding herb that produces high yields. What’s more, with such a large selection, there is a mint species to suit every palate. Find out how to plant mint, where to plant it and much more in this article.
Growing conditions for mint
Mint plants generally enjoy a sunny to semi-shady location. Mint’s water requirements naturally rise in direct sun, especially at midday when the sun is at its hottest. The best location for mint varies depending on the species but mint is generally adaptable and thrives in many locations.
Whether you want to grow mint in your garden bed or in a pot, this perennial herb can cope with a lot.
Planting mint in the garden
If you want to plant mint in your garden, it is best to do so in spring. Mint likes a soil that is humus-rich, moist and loose. If the soil is too heavy or too sandy, loosen it before planting and enrich it with a nutrient-rich compost such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost.
Find a suitable location in the garden. If possible, choose a place where the mint has room to spread. If you do not want your mint plant to spread, use a root barrier or plant it in a pot.
Growing mint in pots
If you are planting mint in a pot, choose a planter with a diameter of at least 20 cm. Fill the bottom of the pot with a drainage layer of coarse materials such as gravel or expanded clay, and then add a suitable potting compost such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. Another option is to mix about 30 percent expanded clay into the soil to prevent waterlogging in the pot.
Mint growing in a pot will grow roots out of the bottom and become rootbound relatively quickly. Repot the mint plant at least every three years. Find out how to continue growing Mentha after planting in our article on caring for mint.
Best soil for mint
As mint is very adaptable, it can cope with different types of soil. That said, mint prefers its substrate to be nutrient-rich, loose and moist, but not wet. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost provides several advantages. It is pre-fertilised and does not contain peat, which leads to lower CO2 emissions during production.
Does mint need a root barrier?
Whether mint needs a root barrier depends very much on the gardener and the garden. Since mint forms creeping runners - so-called stolons – it can spread quickly in the garden. If you want to plant mint in your garden bed and do not want it to spread, place a 50 cm deep root barrier in the planting hole when planting or regularly cut back its runners.
If you use a root barrier, keep in mind that the mint will soon become rootbound. This can lead to stunted growth, and the plant will need to be rejuvenated or transplanted. If you tire of finding ways to use your freshly picked mint in the summer, you can dry or freeze mint and enjoy it later in the winter.
Does mint help against spiders or snails?
The intense scent of some mint species is said to repel spiders. Mint can be placed near doors and windows to accomplish this, although a fly screen is likely to be more effective.
To prevent slugs and snails, mint can be used as a mulch layer. Here, too, mint forms a scent barrier, but its success is limited. It would need to be applied regularly and accurately to have a sufficient and long-lasting effect.
Sowing and growing mint yourself
If you are propagating mint by seed, we recommend starting the mint seeds indoors in early spring. Sow the mint seeds in a seed tray filled with a nutrient-poor sowing soil, such as our peat-free Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, and lightly cover the seeds with soil. Water regularly and keep in a warm place at about 18 °C. The seeds will germinate within two weeks. Once the mint seedlings are 7 to 10 cm tall, prick them out into separate grow pots and plant outside from mid-May. Alternatively, sow the mint seeds directly in the garden from the beginning of May.
How to grow mint
The best time to plant mint is mid-May, after the last late frosts. Although mint is generally considered hardy, young mint plants are still sensitive to cold and frosty temperatures.
How to plant mint seedlings:
- Soak the root ball thoroughly
- Loosen the soil
- Dig a planting hole about twice the size of the root ball
- Place the mint in the planting hole
- Plant at the same depth as in the pot
- Fill the planting hole with soil and lightly press down the soil
- Water thoroughly
It might be a good idea to use a root barrier, as mint spreads very quickly. Leave 50 cm between the mint and other plants.
Mint companion plants
Mint gets along well with most plants. However, it is important to bear in mind that mint spreads rapidly when not contained. It will compete with other plants for water and nutrients.
Good companion plants for mint:
- Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Brassicas (Brassica)
- Carrots (Daucus carota)
- Tomatoes (Solanum sect. Lycopersicon)
Bad neighbours for mint:
- Other mint species
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Celery (Apium)
Once your aromatic mint is flourishing in your garden, it will of course need to be pruned. Here is a quick guide to picking and pruning mint.