Growing Mint
How to keep mint growing in a pot
broken scoop
Mint growing in a broken scoop.

This article talks about growing mint by cutting (also called striking or cloning). There are many types of mint. The mint mentioned here is shown in the picture. Perhaps it is "common" type with scientific name Mentha cordifolia. Its leaf has obtuse tip.

Mint leaves can be used for garnishing, to make mint soup (or soap), to be added into drinking water and watermelon or to make mint sauce. Eating mint can alleviate stomach trouble. Rubbing some mint leaves on the forehead may relieve headache. A flourishing pot of mint can be a decoration with nice smell too. A small pot can be put in the car whenever going out. Even pet dog or cat likes to munch on the mint sometimes. Due to its usefulness, it should be a household plant kept permanently.


Mint stem contains a few nodes and one terminal bud. Each node has a pair of leaves. Terminal bud is the tip on top that contains small new leaves. Root can grow from a node.

To start growing mint, just utilize the sprigs of mint bought from market. Make sure the sprigs are vibrant when buying. Pinch away leaves for the kitchen. It is faster to pick the leaves with finger than to snip them. Avoid hurting the nodes when clearing the leaves. If the big leaves are not cleared away, the cutting may lose moisture fast by evaporation through the leaves and may not survive.

A cutting that has three nodes.

Prepare the cuttings for planting. A cutting or clipping should contain at least two nodes with healthy leaves and one terminal bud. Leave a pair of small leaves near the terminal bud intact. It will be easier for the cutting to grow if the terminal bud at the tip of the stem are left intact. This is because the cutting does not need to use energy to develop side shoots and the growing hormone is the highest at the terminal bud. The pair of leaves will act as a food source for the cutting and as an indicator on how well the cutting will be doing when rooting. The cutting should not be longer than 10 cm (4 in). This is because without established root the moisture absorbed at the bottom is limited so it is harder to channel to the top. Do not hesitate to cut away nodes that looks dry without lustre because possibly the nodes are too old to root. Preferably the cut should be just above a node.


Potting medium should be fluffy, without matter that is still rapidly degrading, and sterile. There must be no living thing at all in the medium, including earthworm. The sterility of medium is a key to successful propagation of mint because the rooting rate of cutting decreases in medium that is not sterile. The cutting may "damp off" and rot. Packaged coir or other packaged medium is sterile. Used medium is no longer sterile.

Stand the cuttings in water for at least one hour for them to absorb water. Clearing the leaves for kitchen for a batch of sprigs takes some time so the cuttings may become dehydrated. When they are stiff, that means they have absorbed enough water. This step is not needed if the cuttings are to be planted immediately after harvesting.

The cutting should be straight so that it is easier to be planted. Cut away any portion that is crooked. Plant the cutting by sinking one or a few nodes in the medium depending on the length of the cutting.

One medium container should only accomodate one cutting because if the cutting rots, it is isolated and will not affect other cuttings. One rotten cutting can cause all other cuttings to rot too if planted together in the same medium. Thus it is better to use a seedling tray, in which only one cutting is put into one hole. The hole in the seedling tray should be at least 6 cm deep. The big tray can be cut into 2x2 if desired.

After planting, water the cuttings. The water must be clean or else the cutting may rot. Then put the cuttings at a place where there is sunlight only at dawn or dusk. By the way, if desired to live in an apartment, choose one that has a spacious balcony facing east or west.

To accelerate the rooting, the cuttings can be moved indoor under the lamp.

Keep growing

Water the plant daily. Once the cuttings start to grow strong, the pot can have direct sunlight all day long. Transfer to a wide pot so that mint runners will have space to propagate. If possible, do not buy pot but make own pot by utilizing some junks. Note that coir is good for rooting only. Once the root is estalished, repot in other soil. The plant potted only in coir may not grow well in the long run.

start fertilizing or else the plants suffer malnutrition especially if the medium is coir. Fertilize it weekly with non-chemical fertilizer with higher nitrogen number in NPK formula to develop leaves. Make sure the stems does not touch the fertilizer during and after the fertilizing or else they will be burnt.

Cut position
A node near the bottom with side growth.

When some big leaves turn yellow, it is due for harvest. We should not wait until the stems become woody. Harvesting is a pleasant task because mint fragrance is released. Harvest by cutting the stems. Do not waste time in picking leaves. Mint tastes better if eaten together with its young stem. Cut the bottom of the stems. Theoretically, we should leave one node above the soil (see the picture). But it is alright to cut them fast without observing the nodes because they will take care of themselves and grow again. Harvest in fast pace to save time. Cut all stems in the pot away. This may seem drastic but it will ensure vigorous growth. Nutrient cannot be channeled to the tip of the stem when the stem is long. This ensures that all nutrients are channeled to only one node so the side shoots will be healthy. This also ensures the stem near the bottom are cut before it gets old. Old stem is not good in channeling nutrients. Also trim away any stem that is already woody even though there is growth at the tip of the stem. Such growth over the stem that is already woody will not last long anyway. New shoots that grow directly from the soil can be left behind.

For mint planted in a pot, do not expect that one time of planting lasts for a long time without harvesting. It defeats of purpose of growing mint if it is not harvested. Harvesting stimulates growing. If the mint is not harvested, it will grow too long and topple. The leggy stem finally gets old and dies. When the stems get old and wither, the pot of mint does not look pretty. A lush pot of mint shrub has aesthetic value.

After a few months, if the pot of mint no longer produces large leaves, the mint is pot-bound. When planted in a pot, its strength of fast growing becomes a weakness. The faster it grows, the more damage it inflicts on itself. The pot contains too much root and there is no space for new root to develop. The root lumps up like a ball. Plants are meant to grow on the ground instead of in a pot but not everyone has a piece of land. To solve this, detach the pot from the plant, loosen the root and trim some root away.

Mint may be eaten by the caterpillars of cabbage looper moth. When this happens, cut back the mint as per the picture to get rid of the caterpillars.

Enjoy growing mint!
Posted: 2013-08-05; updated: 2016-08-20 by Ong Seng Aun.
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