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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

3 in 1 mint plants

I've been tidying up one spot in the yard this summer. My progress has been slooooooow. But yesterday I tackled one more little area -- the potted mints. I have pineapple mint, spearmint and peppermint.

I like to keep my mint plants in pots. In the past, I've sunk terra cotta pots into the ground, holding individual plants. They do a good job of corralling the mints, while keeping the roots well-watered. However, as you can see, the pots fall apart after a while, in our climate. And it just doesn't look so nice after a full season or two.

So, time to see what I can do with this area.

I bought a larger pot, one of those all-weather, concrete-looking pots. In it, I placed 3 tall-ish plastic pots (they look like 1-gallons).

I filled the outer pot with plenty of soil, then moved the mint plants into each of these smaller inside pots. I did have to root-prune one of the plants, and cut the whole thing in half, as it wouldn't likely do well, simply transplanted. But I do like how this project turned out.

In summer, I grow the mint in the shade of a blueberry bush. Our yard can really bake. But now I have the option to bring the mint plants up to the deck come fall, which I might find quite handy.

When we first moved into this house, the previous owners had mint growing in the front garden, only it was allowed to "roam". I spent the better part of every morning, for one entire summer, eradicating that mint from the yard. My aim is to never go through that, again!


  1. What a good idea! Mint does like to wander. I've never heard of pineapple mint--does it really have a pineapple-ish flavor?

    1. Hi Kris,
      Pineapple mint has a slight pineapple flavor, but more of a pineapple scent, I think. It's milder than peppermint, so I think is a nice addition to iced tea.

  2. I've been wanting to plant mint for a couple of years now. The main thing holding me up was wondering how I would keep it from taking over. I was thinking of planting some in pots. Now, I think that's what I will do.

    Does mint last over winter in pots? My mom had mint growing in her back yard, along the edge of a wooded area. That mint came back year after year, but I'm not sure if it will survive the winter if potted.

    Also, do you use mint for anything other than tea? I've seen instructions for making peppermint oil that doesn't look too complicated. I thought I might try that when I grow mint.

    Interesting about the pineapple mint. I've seen chocolate mint plants at Lowe's and wondered if it really tastes chocolate-y.


    1. Hi Angie,
      It depends on your coldest temperatures in winter. My pots that I had submerged in soil, did fine each year. One year, I did lose spearmint, but I had that one plant for about 10 years before it died. I think it probably outgrew the root room in the pot. This will be something of an experiment if I bring the pot up to the deck against the house. I could also bring the pot of mint inside for the coldest months, like December through early February. Or I can bury this pot in dirt, as well.

      I also make mint syrup, which can be used in mint juleps, drizzled over vanilla ice, to flavor homemade ice cream, or to add to chocolate frosting for chocolate-mint icing (good on brownies).

      I tried making mint oil one year. All it did was grow mold. I think mint extract (with a solvent like Vodka or food-grade glycerin) might be a better option.

    2. I only tried mint once, knowing its propensity to roam, it was in a pot on my porch it did great all summer but did not survive its first winter and that's in the Pacific Northwest where winter is very mild. Next time I'll try your pots in the ground method.

    3. Hi frugal spinster,
      Yeah, the problem with overwintering in a pot vs in the ground is that in winter, the air temperature is colder than the soil temperature. So, in a pot, plants' roots are exposed to lower temps.

      Some folks will wrap their potted plants in insulating material for the winter. Mint in a pot can do okay in an unheated garage for the winter months. But I had great luck with sinking the pots in the ground, year round (just the one plant that became root-bound, and then died).

      I may break off a couple of pieces of each plant and pot up to bring indoors for fall/winter use. And then either wrap the pot in an insulating blanket, on the deck, or move it to the garage in November, through to early spring.

      Good luck!

  3. Overall, our winter temperatures are mild. It seems we always have a couple of weeks of sub-zero temperatures though. The last three years, we have had a few nights it's been as cold as -20 degrees F. I'm thinking the mint might not make it through that in a pot on my deck. I could always move it inside the garage for the winter, where it's rarely below 32 degrees F.

    Thanks for the tips about mint syrup and mint extract. I'll try those when I have mint!


    1. Hi Angie,
      Also mint leaves are a fresh addition to fruit salads, and an ingredient in traditional tabbouli salad. And many people like mint jelly for lamb.

      Where you live, I would either sink the pot in the soil for winter, or move it to the garage before temperatures begin to stay below 32 F, consistently. For us, that's mid-November that I'd need to put the pot into the garage. You can also bring a small bit of the plant indoors, potted up and kept through winter, just in case your main plant does die. Then you have something to start over with, for free.

  4. As you probably know, you can tell a plant in the mint family by it's square stem. There are actually quite a few weeds/wild flowers out there that are in the mint family, but I've never used them for anything. Cultivated mint is easy enough to grow, that I've never ventured out.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      one plant in the mint family is Pennyroyal. It's considered medicinal, not culinary. But is known to be an natural, moderately-effective flea control. You can make homemade "flea collars" by rolling up dried Pennyroyal into bandanas or other strips of cloth, tied around an animals neck. I can't imagine a cat would endure having this around his neck, but dogs would mind much less.

      During the 1800s, it was advisable to put sprigs of pennyroyal in your undergarments, near your skin, to prevent flea infestations. Yikes! I'd hate to live in a time and place where I had to worry that I might become infested with fleas!

  5. Not sure if I ever saw a mint plant, but I will sure not let it roam if I was ever given one!! Thanks for the warning lol


    1. Hi YHF,
      Oh yes, mint is well-known for it's invasive nature. That's fine if you have a large patch of ground that needs covering, but not so great when you want to grow other things in that same space. there is one mint which makes a nice ground cover, it's Corsican mint. It has tiny leaves, and is considered a "step-able" plant -- you can walk lightly on it (not for main traffic areas). It's really nice for damp-ish areas as a ground cover, in between stepping stones. I've got it on my "list" for someday additions to our yard. Smells lovely when stepped on.


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