Introduction of Growing Mint in the Backyard
The botanical name of the Pudina or Mint is Mentha piperita. It’s a herb that is used all around the world for its refreshing aroma. Mint is added to a variety of dishes and drinks due to its distinct flavor. It tastes sweet and produces a prolonged effect of coolness on the tongue. This flavor is mostly present in the leaves of the plant. In India, it mainly grows in northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana. Let’s see how to grow Mint in the backyard!
All types of mint are fast-growing, spreading plants, so you must give them a place to spread without getting in the way, or plant them in a pot. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green patches. In the right place, it makes a pretty seasonal ground cover.
This article covers the below topics:
- Varieties of Mint
- Propagation of Mint
- Growing conditions of Mint in the backyard
- Soil requirement for growing mint in the backyard
- Water requirement for growing mint in the backyard
- Temperature requirement for growing mint in the backyard
- Fertilizer requirement for growing mint in the backyard
- Different methods of growing Mint
- Growing Mint in a pot
- Growing Mint in a container
- How to take care of Mint
- Pests and diseases of Mint
- How and when to harvest Mint
- Helpful tips of growing Mint in the backyard
A Guide of Growing Mint in the Backyard
Mint is a highly aromatic, perennial herb in the genus mentha of the Lamiaceae family. The genus contains approximately 20 species and numerous natural hybrids that occur in the overlap areas of different growing ranges.
Mint is not only easy to care for, but it grows and spreads by itself, coming back year after year. For this reason, it is best to keep mints in their containers so they do not take over other plants in the garden. With its sweet fragrance, sparkling flavor, and pretty flowers, mint makes a delightful addition to any garden. Mint is a tasty plant, and there are all kinds of delicious recipes that use mint. Mint is also a powerful medicinal herb.
Varieties of Mint
Mint has plenty of flavors, and each of those flavors has plenty of uses. Popular varieties of mint include the following:
Apple mint: The leaves of this plant are pale to medium green in an ovate shape with serrated edges. There are some cultivars of apple mint with different colored leaves, such as pineapple mint, which has green leaves with creamy-white margins. The leaves of apple mint are covered in downy hairs and have given rise to the common names wooly mint and fuzzy mint.
Peppermint: This is a type of hybrid mint, and it has very high menthol content. Therefore, it feels more like chewing gum or toothpaste kind of mint. Its intense flavor is excellent for making beverages. Seeds are not available on the market, but cuttings are. Most types of peppermint have soft, hairy leaves, except for orange mint, which is hairless.
Spearmint: This is one of the most common varieties of Mint. It has a versatile flavor. It can be used for a lot of kitchen recipes and has many health benefits. Leaves are ovate with pointed tips and finely serrated edges, and some are hairy while others are hairless. The pointed tips of the foliage are said to resemble spears, which is where the name spearmint comes from. Flowers are produced on upright spikes that stand above the foliage, in shades of lilac and pink.
Flavored mint: This is a hybrid mint variety with different types of flavors like Chocolate, Pineapple, Apple, etc. Flavored mints have very specific purposes, where certain kinds of flavors are required in a particular preparation along with mint.
Chocolate mint: Its name says it all. With slightly brown markings on the leaves and brown stems, this mint tastes and smells like chocolatey. Imagine your garden that smells like a favorite chocolate-mint patty! And it’s perhaps the best mint to complement chocolate in baking for the ever-so-tasty chocolate mint flavor.
Field mint: The leaves of this plant are arranged in opposite pairs along square stems. The foliage has coarse hairs and serrated margins. The plant blooms in summer with tiny purple flowers, or occasionally pink or white blooms.
Water mint: Water mint can also be used for flavoring drinks and dishes in the same way as many other types of culinary mint. It has a refreshing flavor that can be enjoyed in teas or cold drinks, and it can also be dried or frozen for use at a later date. Water mint is also known for its medicinal properties, for instance, soothing sore muscles and for cleaning out cuts and grazes.
Propagation of Mint
You can use a couple of different methods for propagating mint. But, the best way to propagate mint is by taking cuttings from those that you like best.
You can propagate mint from cuttings easily. Cuttings from mature plants can root in both water and soil. If you choose to propagate in water, wait until the cuttings develop roots and then transplant them into a container. Sow your propagated mint outdoors in the late spring, when the risk of frost has subsided.
You can also propagate mint from seed. Start the seeds indoors around eight weeks before the last average frost date in your area. Make sure to use nutrient-rich, well-draining soil, and keep the soil moist until the seeds begin to germinate; about 10 to 15 days after planting.
Growing Conditions of Mint in the Backyard
You should not miss this: Growing Organic Zucchini In Containers.
Soil Requirement for Growing Mint in the Backyard
Mint can grow well in almost all kinds of soils. The soil needs to be fertile, well-draining, and rich in organic matter. The soils with pH ranging between 6.0 -7.0 are good for its growth. The commercial potting mix is the best choice for growing mint in containers. You can prepare your potting soil by mixing equal parts of garden soil, fine sand, cow dung manure, and coco peat.
Water Requirement for Growing Mint in the Backyard
All varieties of mint plants need moist soil to thrive. However, the soil should be well-draining. While the plant loves water, it cannot tolerate soaked soil and wet feet, the roots will rot and the plant will drown. The continuous moisture is going to help in the growth of your plant, whereas overwatering can cause your plant bitter leaves. Water the plants only when the topsoil dries. It’s best to water mint in the morning to ensure the plant has a supply of water throughout the day.
Temperature, Humidity, and Light Requirement for Growing Mint in the Backyard
Mint prefers partial shade. However, it can successfully grow in full sun if it receives adequate water. Mints require a night time minimum of 12°C and a daytime minimum of 16°C for active growth. Above 30°C growth slows. If you live in a cold-winter region, protect mint through the winter in a container placed under a covered patio, or in the garage.
Fertilizer Requirement for Growing Mint in the Backyard
Mint plants are not very heavy feeders. Just providing them with small doses of well-rotted cow manure, once every two to three months is enough. In the early spring, feed container-grown mint should be fed with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer, when new growth begins to appear. For both container and garden plantings, feed every four to six weeks throughout the growing season.
Required Spacing for Growing Mint in the Backyard
You only need one or two mint plants, since it is so prone to spreading. If you choose to plant a couple, space them about two feet apart.
Different Methods of Growing Mint
Mints are difficult to grow by seeds due to the low germination rate. Mixed flavored varieties can be grown by seed sowing. Sow the seeds in a seedling tray, fill it with suitable quality sowing medium like coco-peat. Later transplant the young seedlings in pots and containers.
Take some stem cuttings from a mint plant of the desirable variety. Dip the cuttings in a bowl of water and add some soil in it. This will encourage the root formation. Once the roots appear, you can transplant the cuttings into pots, and they will start growing just like a new Mint plant.
Growing Mint in a Pot
Probably the best way to grow mint is in a container. Without any worry about a garden takeover, this will ensure that it will stay where you want it.
If grown in a pot, it tends to get a little sparse and scraggly looking after a couple of years. It never seems to do as well as mint grown in the ground, probably because it doesn’t like being contained!
Growing Mint in a Container
Grow mint in containers of rich, well-draining soil amended with 1/3 organic matter such as aged compost. You can add 1/3 landscape sand to improve drainage if needed. Ensure pots have plenty of drainage material – such as broken pottery, gravel, or pebbles – at the bottom and keep the soil moist but not wet.
Fertilize with an all-purpose liquid plant food such as 10-10-10 (NPK) in spring and once more mid-way through the growing season. For a steady harvest, give your containers some afternoon shade to prevent heat stress. Container plants should be divided every 3 to 4 years to rejuvenate plants.
How to Take Care of Mint Plants
- Minimal care is needed for mint. For outdoor plants, use light mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and keep the leaves clean.
- For indoor plants, be sure to keep the soil evenly moist so that water them regularly.
- At first, mints develop into well-behaved–looking, bushy, upright clumps, but they soon set out to conquer new territory with horizontal runners and underground rhizomes. Unless you block the advance, a pert peppermint plant can turn into a sprawling 4-foot giant in just 1 year. It’s not the stuff of horror movies, however.
- Mints benefit from picking and pruning. They are shallow-rooted and easy to pull out, so there’s no reason to worry, as long as you provide physical barriers such as walls, walkways, or containers.
- It is a good idea to prune the plant when it starts to grow well, and get bushy. You can keep it in shape by removing the dry and spindling branches from it.
Pests and Diseases of Mint
Below are the pests and diseases which can attack mint plants and how you can control them.
Pests of Mint
- Spider Mites: Leaves speckled with yellow spots & thin webbing.
- A blast of water can diapers these pests
- Apply potassium salts to your plants. These are quite abrasive against spider mites
- If insects become problematic, apply an insecticidal soap
- Loopers: Missing or large holes in foliage.
- If the amount of worms is relatively small, you may just be a
- Flea Beetles: Clusters of small holes in foliage.
- Dust your plants with talcum powder
- Spray your leaves with neem oil
- Aphids: Small winged & wingless insects on leaves.
- If there are only a few insects on your plants, you can try pruning the leaves they are one
- A strong jet of water from the garden hose quickly reduces aphid populations.
- Cutworms: Cut at the stem or dead plant.
- If the infestation is small, you may be able to pick out the cutworms. They usually come out at night. Drop them into soapy water to kill them
- Surround your plants with diatomaceous earth. This will kill the cutworms when they walk over the powder
- Thrips: Curled or distorted leaves.
- Sticky traps can help capture adult specimens.
- Spraying water can help dissuade infestations from damaging your plants.
Diseases of Mint
- Mint rust: Mint rust is another fungus that causes small brown, orange, or yellow pustules on undersides of leaves.
- Infected plants should be removed to prevent this disease from spreading
- Heat treating the roots may help to control rust
- Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is another fungus that can also show up in moist, damp conditions, coating leaves and stems in a fuzzy dusting that weakens and damages plants.
- Remove any infected plants and allow the soil to dry out. Thin plants if needed to improve air circulation and don’t water until the top 1-inch of soil is dry.
- Anthracnose: Anthracnose is a fungal disease that can spread quickly in warm, wet weather, causing small spots that gradually get larger until the leaves drop off.
- Remove diseased plants promptly to prevent its spread
- Keep plants off the ground and ensure good air circulation
How and When to Harvest Mint
The quality of the volatile oils that give mint its characteristic flavor is best during the long days of summer when plants receive 14 hours of daylight or more. And for the best aroma and flavor, plants should be harvested before flowering.
Harvest on a sunny day by shearing the tops of the plants after the morning dew has dried. Cut stems to just above the first or second set of leaves. Plants can be harvested 3 or 4 times a year and frequent harvesting helps to keep them bushy.
Helpful Tips of Growing Mint in the Backyard
In addition to the planting and growing information provided above, here’s a look at some additional tips of growing mint that you can use to have the most success with your mint plants.
- Don’t allow the soil to dry out, these plants are moisture lovers
- Provide light shade in areas with hot afternoon sun
- Restrict plants from spreading by cultivating in containers or with landscape barriers
- Allow some plants to flower throughout the garden to attract pollinators
- Protect plants with a 2-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture. Applying mulch to mint in a garden bed will help to keep the plant moist and will also prevent it from spreading
- When planting in the ground, be sure to space them about 15 inches apart
- When growing indoors, place the plant in an area where it will receive adequate sunlight in the morning, but where it will not be dried out by heating elements
- Harvest your mint sprigs before the plant begins to flower
- Pinch off flowering buds when they begin to appear to extend the harvest season
In case if you are interested in this: Hydroponic Spinach Farming.