After growing spinach at home, growing mint indoors has been a fun experiment for me.
Mint or the genus Mentha is a perennial aromatic and culinary herb herb. It is recognized by its white purple flowers and found almost everywhere. Planting and growing mint indoors is quite easy and interesting, mostly it is grown in home gardens. You can easily grow mint plants indoors in pots filled with soil, or in water bottles.
Mint plant have the potential to grow up to 10-120 cm, or show indeterminate growth through rapidly growing underground rhizome. Due to this indeterminate growth nature some species of mint are regarded as invasive plants. Generally mint is recognized by its aromatic smell.
There are different types of mint plants (over 3500 species) with unique flavors, including peppermint and spearmint. Mint plant require low attentions for growing, while it gives you a lot of choices by using in drinks, foods and culinary items.
Can Mint be Grown Indoors?
Yes. Mint and many other herbs can be grown easily indoors. Although there are fast growing indoor plants, generally they require more attention and most don’t show vigorous growth as compared to outdoor plants. On the plus side, you can get fresh mint leaves around the year even in winter by growing indoors.
Mostly people prefer planting mint in pots at their kitchen shelf, window, table, or on the counter. You can also grow mint plants in soil beds, balconies, backyards, and on the terrace. While grown indoors there will be various factors that require your attention, like soil type, size of pots or container, light requirements, propagation methods, harvesting/pruning methods, etc. Tracking the perfect season for planting and plant health profile maintenance is also an important factor.
Can Mint be Grown in Pots and Container?
Yes. Mint can be grown in pots, containers, tray and water bottles. Mint plants show rapid growth with minimal attentions regardless of the pot shape and size. Due to this rapid growth nature some mint species are considered an invasive plants which don’t grow as a companion with other plants. They don’t allow to grow any other plant in its surrounding, and compete for water and mineral nutrients. So it is important to keep them in control.
Keeping in view this invasive nature timely pruning and harvesting must be require.
How to Grow Mint Indoors?
Generally, pots or containers with a depth of 10-12 inches and a diameter of 8 inches and a drain hole are considered as ideal. Too much shallow pots are not good. In shallow pots mint roots may come out through a drainage hole. As a result, plants are weakened, and roots spread out in the surrounding area in bare soil.
In order to avoid this situation always use the minimum recommended size pot.
Grow from cuttings vs seed:
Mainly, there are 3 methods of growing mint plants.
- Growing from seeds
- From stem cuttings
- From root cuttings
Growing from seeds
Planting mint from seeds is not a good idea. Many species of mint produce non-viable seeds that are not able to germinate. Some seeds have low germination rate, so they produce many variable characteristics plants.
In spite all these, growing mint from seeds is not impossible in natural conditions. You can grow indoors mint from seeds in late winter or in early spring. Mint seeds take almost two weeks for germination. Before planting the seeds to ensure their viability, purchase good quality seeds. You have to choose good quality pots or containers also, that enables you to transform germinated seedling later on.
Prepare the soil mix and moisten it, fill the pots up to the edge. Sow the seeds by immersing them into 1/3rd depth of the soil. Use a plastic wrap to cover the pot, it helps them in rapid emergence of seedlings. Keep checking regularly and make sure to remove the plastic cover for few hours, in order to proper aeration and breathing of the seeds.
Growing from Stem Cuttings
Cutting method is the most successful method for mint propagation. In this method different mint verities can be grown from cuttings, either from the stem or roots.
Mints are invasive plants; which means they can flourish rapidly in an area where they plant. Due to invasive nature of mint plant, it is easy to grow them from vegetative propagation methods. For this method you need to have a volunteer plant, it can be your neighbor’s plant, a friend’s plant or brought it from nursery.
Here are the steps to follow.
- Pick a healthy volunteer plant to cut the stem from.
- Cut a stem of about 4-6 inches in length up to where last leaf ends from bottom. Before cutting it also make sure that stem don’t have flowers.
- Remove extra leaves from the lower side of the stem and keep few leaf pairs at the top.
- Place the cutting in a water glass and leave it on a partially shady and aerated place.
- Replace the water in the glass every day.
- After a few days you will notice, your cuttings are developing the root system.
- Almost one week later your cuttings are ready to shift them into the pots that are filled with good quality soil.
It is worth mentioning here that during cutting, do a clear, clean cut, in order to reduce the chances of wounds. As wounds and cuts are easily susceptible to insect pest diseases.
Growing from Root Cuttings
Root cuttings is quite similar to stem cuttings of mint.
In this propagation method, you have to dig up the roots of a healthy mint plant. Select a root extension up to 6 inches in length and cut it off. Now take a pot or container with soil mixture, make a hole in the container and horizontally place the root cuttings.
Water frequently and keep the soil moist. It takes 2-4 weeks to produce new roots, stem and leaves.
Mint plants are mostly grown in soil, coconut coir, and in water.
Grow in Soil
Growing mint in soil is a good option. You can prepare your soil by mixing sand, peat and perlite. A good potting mixture contains different organic amendments, like coco coir, peat moss, farm land manure or any other organic matter.
Before filling the potting mixture, make sure that the pot has drainage hole. Mint plants prefer rich organic soil with pH around 6.5-7.0. Regular yearly Soil top dressing is also necessary with organic fertilizers.
The coconut coir is another excellent medium to grow mint.
Coco coir is obtained from outer husk of coconut, it is used for various purposes especially in agriculture, crop production, and for manufacturing crafts.
This coir is used exactly like peat moss for crop organic demands, it is biodegradable but degrades slowly as compared to other organic matters. This coir has great potential for water holding capacity like a sponge bed, it keeps moisture content in the root zone. At the same time it has the ability to remove extra water so that plants don’t become waterlogged.
Coco coir don’t have much nutrients but it helps the soil to retain nutrients and make them available for plants. It is really easily to improve soil quality by mixing 40% coco coir with garden soil. This will result in good aeration, drainage, and moisture contents holding.
Growing in Water
Mint plants can also be planted in water up to two weeks, but after this you have to transfer them into the soil.
Simply cut the mint stem from an already grown plant up to 5-6 inches in length. Remove the extra bottom leaves and put them into the water bottle or glass vase. Place this in a window where sunlight reaches almost 4-6 hour in a day.
An appropriate temperature range is important for maintaining your mint plants indoors. The preferred indoor temperature at day time must be 60-70°F. and during night time 55-60°F.
Most mint plants grow well in room temperature and in cool temperatures. They have the ability to tolerate light forest conditions. However, mint plants die back in very cold conditions, but they have the ability to re-grow in warm temperatures.
Do mint plants need direct sunlight? Does mint grow in shade?
Mint plants do not need direct sunlight. Generally mint plants like to grow in partial shady places.
How much sunlight?
Select a place where sunlight reaches almost 4-5 hours in a day. A place near window area is ideal. Planting in places where the plant gets direct sunlight makes plant thrive. However this will also make the soil grow dry.
Growing mint indoors near the window provides the plant with enough sunlight without leaving the soil dry.
Watering: How often should I water mint?
An adequate moisture level is required for mint plants. The soil must be well moistened, but not soggy, with proper drain for excess water.
Over-watering may cause water-logging in the root area and don’t get sufficient oxygen. So in order to grow well your mint plants, keep a check for moisture contents and don’t overflow. You can judge the moisture contents by simply touching the soil. Do not soak the soil, just keep it dampened.
Watering in the early morning is good when the temperature is low so that plants have enough moisture and plant easily withstand with hot sunlight hits in the afternoon.
Fertilizer for mint
Mint plants don’t require too much fertilizers, like many other herbs. High amount of fertilizers may reduce the taste of mint foliage. While growing indoors if you think your plants require a boost, use compost tea or fish emulsion fertilizer in very small quantity.
Dosage time also matters a lot. Do fertilize your plants after every 4-6 weeks as potting nutrients seems to leach down quicker with regularly watering.
How long does mint take to grow?
As you have already seen, mint can be grown from seeds as well as stem and root cuttings. Seeds takes anywhere from 10 to 15 days to sprout. If you have covered it plastic sheet, remove them once you notice the sprouts. When the plants grows two or three leaves, it is time to transplant to a larger container where the plant can grow fully.
It takes approximately 90 days for the plant to grow from seed to mature size.
Seedling establishment is quite laborious and time taking procedure, however you can grow your mint plants quickly from stem and root cuttings. Cuttings takes almost half time as compared to seedling from seeds.
You can simply start your harvesting mint as soon as the plants are 6-8 inches long with multiple shoots. In the case of planting from seeds, harvesting starts approximately after 2 months, while planting from cuttings requires relatively less time. Make sure not to harvest more than 1/3rd of the mint plant, in order to avoid it from weakening and susceptible to decline.
Benefits of Growing Mint
The most obvious benefits of growing mint are using it for adding them to your food and drinks and for the well-being of bees and other pollinators.
Mint is also an excellent perennial herb that has medicinal properties. You can add the fresh leaves to your dishes or dry them for a later use.
It is also used to make deodorizer or room fresheners since the leaf has a pungent aroma.
Ad finally let’s not forget the mojito, the classic cocktail with mint and lime.
These days you can find several products that have a minty flavor such as tea, chewing gum, beverages, toothpaste, and other food items.
Due to this versatility mint become an important plant to have ever been discovered.
Mint care Tips
How do you keep mint plants alive indoors?
It is quite interesting to know that mint plants not require really much attention except moisture and rich soil. Frequent watering is the only maintenance mint require. It is a bit difficult to kill a mint plant.
The only care it require is to make sure that you keep the mint in check and don’t let overgrowth. Otherwise it will take over your whole garden if you let it. Pruning or harvesting keep them lush green leaves.
Mint is not a winter-hardy plant although in can withstand slight amount of frost. In cold season the plant will lose its leaves and may appear dead. But the roots are winter hardy and the plant will come back in the spring.
Hope these tips will come handy when you start growing mint indoors. Go for it.