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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 to make leaves. 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. 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.


Choose 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.

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.

Plant the cutting by sinking one or a few nodes in the medium depending on the length of the cutting.

After planting, water the cuttings. Then put the pot at a place where there is direct sunlight only in early morning or without direct sunlight. By the way, if desired to live in an apartment, choose one that has a spacious balcony facing east.

Keep growing

Water the plant daily. Once the cuttings start to grow strong, the pot can have direct sunlight all day long. Also 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.

Cut position
A node near the bottom with side growth.

When each stem has a few nodes with healthy leaves, it is time to harvest. It is a pleasant task because mint fragrance is released. Harvest by cutting the stem. Look from the bottom of the stem for the first node to have a pair of obvious axillary buds with tiny leaves (see the picture). Then cut just above the node. Those buds will grow into new stems. If the stem has more than one node with obvious axillary buds, leave only the first node from the bottom with such buds. This may seem drastic but it will ensure vigorous growth. 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 leave no terminal buds behind in each harvest. By doing this, the stems can also be kept short. Nutrient cannot be channeled to the tip of the stem when the stem is long.

Among the harvested cuttings, take ones with young stem for kitchen without pinching the leaves. Mint should taste better if eaten together with young stem. The leftover from the processing with older stem can be planted after the leaves have been pinched away. Start a new pot. keep multiple pots so that there is constant supply of mint.

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 plantl, loosen the root and trim some root away.

Enjoy growing mint!
Posted: 2013-08-05; updated: 2015-11-22 by Ong Seng Aun.
This article is categorized under Homemaking. Other articles are accessible from home page.
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