Your Guide to Growing Mint Indoors, Plus When to Harvest It
Mint juleps, mojitos, chimichurri and pesto are just a few reasons why growing mint indoors will become one of your favorite hobbies.
Growing mint indoors satisfies green thumbs and aspiring gardeners in multiple ways. First, the requirements for successful growing are within reach of everyone. Second, fresh mint (mentha) releases a truly tantalizing fragrance (we love a fresh-smelling home!).
A fascinating 3,500-year history of the plant has proved its medicinal usefulness, and today, we continue to enjoy it both for its nutritional benefits and for its exceptional taste in everything from cocktails to sauces. Once you learn how to grow and propagate it, you’ll learn just how many uses mint leaves have.
Types of Mint
The mint botanical family includes thousands of species. To make growing mint indoors more accessible, stick to the edible varieties—they also happen to be the most popular and readily available.
Spearmint and peppermint are likely to be found at nurseries. The former might simply be labeled “mint” or common mint. For culinary adventure seekers, try chocolate mint, orange mint, pineapple mint with its bicolored leaves or ginger mint. Pick the type of plant based on which mint recipes are on your radar.
Tips for Growing Mint
Plant vs. seeds
While it is possible to grow mint from seed, it might take weeks for it to germinate. Ordering a plant online or shopping at your local nursery will be more rewarding.
Mint will quickly start expanding. When a plant is established, propagation is super simple. Cut a few longer stems, strip the lower leaves, and place the bare stems in a glass of water. Once roots are growing, pot up the cuttings for gifting or keeping.
Alternatively, carefully remove a strand or two with roots intact from an existing and well-watered plant. Add the stands to new potting mix, water and watch for growth.
How to start growing
Start with a container that’s a minimum 8 inches deep and at least 2 inches wider than the plant circumference. Ceramic, plastic or terracotta can work, but plants in a terracotta pot may require more frequent watering. Having a drainage hole is key!
Fill the pot a half of an inch below the rim with high-quality potting mix. Moisten the soil, and make a depression equal to the plant’s size. Insert the mint from the original pot, backfill, and water. Remember, when planted, the mint leaves should be level with the edge of the container.
Editor’s Tip: Mint is a nosy neighbor, barging in where it shouldn’t. Try to give it a separate home, even from other herbs.
How much sunlight
Light and warmth are the best ways to grow mint indoors. Try to place it in an area where temperatures stay at 65°F or warmer in a sunny window. Avoid heat and air sources. If the sun appears to be crisping the leaves, set further from the window. Give the plant a quarter turn every week to even out exposure. No sunny window? No problem. Using grow lights for 12 hours a day can work as well.
While among the easiest herbs to grow indoors, water with caution. As tough as it is, mint does not appreciate sitting in sodden soil—especially indoors. Keep the roots evenly moist and empty extra water from the saucer. Dip a finger 1 to 2 inches into the soil to check for dampness.
When to repot mint
Mint can look a little chaotic when it’s ready for a replant. Roots grow vertically and horizontally and may tangle internally. They could emerge through the drainage hole or start creeping across the surface with new plant shoots. Tip the plant carefully out of its container to check how deeply the roots are furled. If roots swirl around the inside of the container, it’s time to replant.
Find a container at least 2 inches larger than your current one. Fill it with dampened, high-quality potting mix that offers good drainage and food. Untangle roots that are tightly bound and place in the new pot. It should sit level with the new potting mix. Backfill the edges and water thoroughly.
When to prune mint
Prune mint any time you need to incorporate it in your recipes. If you’re trying to establish a new plant, give it a few weeks to set some roots. Pruning mint and other herbs helps keep their growth in check and works to create a fuller, healthier plant. Clip a stem that’s at least several inches long, just above the node where other leaves are attached. Remove anything that looks tired or dry.
Mint is so tough that even cutting some strands back to the root ball may produce new growth. Use those larger clippings for infusing drinks or making your own peppermint extract for mint chocolate desserts.
When to Harvest Mint
Mint is incredibly regenerative. On established plants, leaves can be removed at any time. Cutting mint forces the plant to send new shoots, making it the gift that keeps on giving. Pinch off any flowering blooms to keep the mint leaves growing productively. Transplants need a few weeks to settle and root before harvesting. Avoid cutting all of the strands back to the root simultaneously.