Mint is a culinary herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae family of plants. It grows and spreads vigorously throughout the year. For centuries, people have been using it to add flavor and fragrance to their food and drinks.
Its rapid growth allows you to have an abundant supply of freshly picked mint leaves all the time. You can easily plant it anywhere in the soil. Moreover, a lot of people use it to add taste to roasted meat and fish dishes.
Most people know only about the outdoor growth of mint. However, you can also grow mint indoors in a simple pot or a container. All you have to do is acquire a mint seedling and plant it wherever you want.
This article will give you an insight regarding the indoor growth of mint. You will get to know the different growth systems along with the methods they use. Also, you will learn the vital care measures for growing mint indoors.
So, let’s start with the conditions that are required for growing mint inside your house.
Indoor Growing Conditions for Mint
The environmental conditions in your house affect the plants directly. Most households have a suitable atmosphere for the optimum growth of the plants. Indoor plants prefer adequate sunlight and ventilation for their proper nourishment.
The right amount of sunlight and the level of humidity in the air encourage mint growth. Moreover, these plants produce better tasting foliage under ambient temperature.
Below are the three vital factors that promote healthy plant growth indoors.
Level of Humidity
Like other indoor plants, herbs are not a fan of dry air. Maintaining a humid environment is essential for the healthy growth of these plants. Moreover, you can put the plants close to each other to increase the relative humidity.
Apart from that, if the pots are exposed to direct sunlight, you should be regular with watering to compensate for the moisture loss. Besides, make sure that air flows between the containers. Adequate airflow is necessary for the production of healthy foliage.
Indirect Exposure to Sunlight
The exciting thing about mint is that it thrives in indirect sunlight instead of direct exposure. It can grow up healthy in partial shades. This explains its rapid spread, even in areas with no direct sunlight.
In spring and summer, you should place your pots in east-facing windows. However, in autumn and winter, you should choose west-facing windows. In the case of grow lights, make sure to use mild intensity lights to imitate the effects of indirect sunlight.
To obtain a healthy crop, place the mint containers under a 65-70 F temperature during the day. At night, make sure that the temperature drops to 55-60 F. To avoid negative responses from environmental stress, you should protect the plants from cold drafts.
Moreover, when planning your mint garden, you should keep in mind your hardiness zone.
Most herbs do not need fertilization for their quick growth. Similarly, mint can spread quickly self-propagating with horizontal runners in the soil. Even then, if you think your plants need a little boost, use a diluted form of fish emulsion.
However, if you end up using excess fertilizer, allow the tap water to run through the soil for flushing out the extra nutrients. To get better results, you can also follow the Tips for Reinvigorating Old Soil.
Five Different Methods of Growing Mint
There are many different methods for indoor gardening. You can choose one according to your convenience and budget. To make things easier for you, we have selected the five best techniques for growing mint.
Read on to find out which one suits you the most.
1. Potting Mix
Potting mix or Coco mix growth is one of the first indoor growing methods on our list. It has worked well for many gardeners, horticulturists, and researchers around the globe. Even today, growers use it for growing long-term indoor plants such as mint.
The potting mix growth method is excellent if you have an open attic where you can build shelves. Moreover, it is very cost-effective and has a remarkable nutrient holding capacity.
Potting mix grows are easy to work on because of their similarity with outdoor grows. However, some people may find the maintenance of the soil hard to practice. As technology continues to advance, people demand a more automated method that reduces the need for day-to-day operations.
Furthermore, people who don’t have enough room for horizontal growth need a more flexible system. The hydroponic growth technique solves the problem and provides more efficient methods of indoor gardening.
Aquaponics is an eco-conscious method of growing plants indoors. It involves raising fish and hydroponic growing at the same time. The reason for its popularity is that it performs multiple functions at the same time.
Sounds interesting, right? By using this method, you can have a natural ecosystem at home. As mint doesn’t have specific nutritional requirements, its growth will boom in the aquaponics system. The water from the fish tank carries fish wastes to the plants where specific bacteria break them down.
When the nutrients have been extracted, freshwater returns to the tank. All in all, this is a less expensive method as it requires only 10% of the soil used in potting mix growth. Moreover, it eliminates the need to buy fertilizers because bacteria are already present to digest the fish wastes.
For your convenience, an incredible variety of aquaponics tanks is available at Amazon in different shapes and sizes. You can choose one based on your preferences. Most of the aquaponics systems also come with a grow light.
However, if you don’t find one attached to the tank, you can look for the best indoor grow lights here. With this growing method, you have to be more careful when it comes to pinching and pruning the mint plants. Otherwise, they will outgrow the system in no time.
Aeroponics is a high-tech indoor growing technique that features automation controls. The roots of the plants are suspended in an enclosed environment. For herbs and leafy green vegetables, it is undoubtedly the smartest option available.
Within the enclosed environment, misting pumps spray nutrient solutions onto the roots. Water keeps circulating the system and maintains the moisture. However, if the water cycle is interrupted, the mint plants will dry out.
Overall, it is a very efficient and worthwhile method of growing mint indoors.
4. Nutrient Film Technique
Nutrient Film Technique works through a soil-less process. Individual mint seedlings are set into slots in an array of half-open troughs. A shallow stream of nutrient-water solution enters at one end and bathes the bare roots of the seedlings.
After passing through the troughs, it exits at the other end of the system. One good thing about this method is that you can recirculate the solution many times.
Another important feature is the presence of watertight gutters, also called channels, that enclose the seedlings’ bare roots. Moreover, the system’s size varies and depends on the number of troughs you can water.
For perennial herbs like mint, you should use deep and wide channels to accommodate their extensive root systems. Besides, the constantly circulating water ensures oxygen in the solution, which is a huge benefit.
In short, this method is excellent for growing mint, micro-greens, and other culinary herbs. The only flaw in the system is that the accidental failure of the pump can cause the death of plants.
If you want to harvest a large crop of mint indoors, this method may be the best pick for you.
5. Water Culture
Another useful hydroponic growth system for mint production is water culture. This system’s primary constituent is a six to twelve inches deep pool with a nutrient solution. Plants held by styrofoam boards float above the solution.
Due to the floating property of plants, it is also called ‘floating culture.’ The roots are partially immersed in the nutrient solution. Moreover, you can construct your unit or buy a commercially built system.
A significant drawback in this system is the decrease in oxygen levels due to inadequate aeration. To compensate for the consumption of oxygen, you can use an aeration stone. However, the plants’ roots are always in contact with the nutrient solution, which is another bonus.
All in all, this system is pretty much suitable for herbs like mint. But we don’t recommend it for bulk growers because of its weight restrictions.
Common Indoor Grown Varieties of Mint
Native to temperate regions, the Mentha genus of Lamiaceae family consists of about twenty-five different mint species. Although each species possesses unique characteristics, it shows the same growth pattern as the others. However, the color of foliage may differ from species to species.
Spearmint and peppermint are the two most commonly grown varieties of mint. For your knowledge, we have put together the top four popular types of mint. Read on to find which species is the most suitable for growing in your house.
Spearmint was named after its pointed, spear-shaped leaves. It grows well in indirect sunlight and partially shaded places. Moreover, the lower percentage of menthol makes it perfect as a flavoring agent.
Throughout history, people have used spearmint to cure digestive disorders. Its slightly sweet taste makes it a perfect fit for sauces and savory dishes. You can also dry its leaves and put them in tea to enhance flavor.
Presently, spearmint is used to add flavor to toothpaste, gums, as well as shampoos. Apart from that, it has a distinctive taste that comes from a chemical called carvone. Furthermore, its fragrance repels mosquitoes.
For thousands of years, people have used peppermint as herbal medicine. It is the most widely known variety of mint due to the higher percentage of menthol. It can relieve pain, calm nausea, and help your body fight infection.
Peppermint thrives when you give it ample space. Plant the seedlings in a vast container and allow them to spread freely. To ensure that the soil stays moist at all times, you should use self-watering pots.
Due to the presence of menthol, peppermint has a strong and spicy taste. Also, this is the reason it is used in foot creams, toothpaste, and chewing gums. Although it can thrive in partial shade, exposure to full sunlight renders it more potent.
If it ever becomes weak or lean, you should re-pot it with fresh soil and sprinkle a little fertilizer.
Apple mint is well-known for its fuzzy leaves and fruity taste. Due to its down-haired leaves, some people also call it woolly mint. Moreover, it shows a spike of purplish-white flowers.
Apple mint is also used as an ornamental indoor plant due to its less invasive nature. The velvety leaves and colorful flowers make the foliage more attractive. It is great for decorations as well as for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Like most other mint species, the growth of apple mint increases when placed in ample sunlight and a high humidity level. However, to keep the plants robust, you should fertilize and pinch them frequently.
Apple mint serves as an aromatic garnish for desserts and salads. Unlike other mints, it retains its fragrance even after it is dried up and packed in sachets. You can also make a refreshing summer beverage by adding slightly muddled apple mint to a jug of iced water.
Known for its stinging smell, the bergamot mint, also known as orange mint, is used to obtain aromatic oil. For a long time, people have been using it to add scent to perfumes and cosmetics. Moreover, these semi-aquatic plants have a strong citrus tang to their flavor.
Propagating orange mint is just like growing any other species of mint. All it needs is plenty of space, and it can thrive even with minimal care.
However, you have to ensure water availability and pinch off the leaves regularly. Contrary to other mints, the orange mint grows rapidly in partial shade rather than direct sunlight. It serves as a proper fit for cocktails, salads, jellies, and sauces.
Choosing a Container for Growing Mint
To accommodate the prolific growth of mint, you should use wide and shallow containers. Wide containers provide ample space for the new growing shoots. Besides, the plenty of space they offer prevents the constriction of roots.
The roots of mint plants, also called runners, grow horizontally outwards at an incredible speed. However, maintaining a damp soil layer is vital for its continuous growth. Thus, you should prefer plastic pots because they keep the soil slightly wet.
Although terra cotta pots are widely used to hold decorative household plants, they are not suitable for herbs. Unlike succulents who seldom need water, herbs require a regular water supply. So, it would be best if you used plastic pots.
Choosing the Growing Media
The two most commonly used growing media for indoor plants are coconut coir and potting soil. These media are lightweight, along with a considerable nutrient holding capacity. Also, they can drain well without losing moisture.
It’s better to use premixed potting soil as it consists of soilless materials. However, you can prepare your potting soil by mixing peat moss, sand, and perlite in the right proportions. These mixes improve aeration and nutrient availability.
As a result, the root growth increases, and mint plants turn into luscious bushes. You can also use garden soil for potting plants, but you have to make sure it’s not full of pests and has the necessary nutrients. Moreover, you can grow mint from not only from seeds and cuttings, but also by divisions.
Below are the three different ways that gardeners adopt for growing mint.
Growing Mint from Seeds
Due to the low germination rate, it is much more challenging to grow mint from seeds than cuttings or divisions. Indoor gardeners prefer to sow mint seeds in spring or fall. It is also important to keep your mint containers in a place that keeps them safe from frost or chill.
Simple varieties of mint such as spearmint are more likely to grow from seeds. Whereas, hybrid varieties of mint have a relatively small chance of growing successfully. Moreover, the soil should be slightly acidic and moist for the proper growth of mints.
Sow the seeds about quarter inches deep in the potting soil. Make sure the soil stays evenly moist by spraying water once or twice every day. Set the containers at a safe distance from windows or doors.
The seeds will start to sprout after a few weeks. Be careful when watering as the seedlings as they are quite fragile at the initial stage. Once the roots start to develop, you can transplant them into another pot if you feel like.
Finally, to give yourself the best growing experience, make sure that you buy high-quality seeds.
Propagating Mint from Cuttings
Propagation of mint from stem cuttings is a more reliable process than growing mint plants from new seeds. Not only is it easier to propagate mint from cuttings, but also it saves you precious time and money. In fact, it is the simplest way of growing plants indoors.
Before you take cuttings from a well-established plant, you have to ensure that the plant isn’t carrying any disease or pests. Check the leaves for insect presence of fungal residue. When you are satisfied with its health, start collecting mint springs three to four inches long.
Afterward, you will have to place those cuttings in water. Within ten to fourteen days, you will have seedlings with a small root system. Fill the containers with the growing media of your choice.
Plant the newly rooted cuttings in the containers and put them in a warm place. Moreover, expert growers dip the roots in a hormone solution before planting them. Also, they put the containers at a place where the plants receive morning sunlight.
For a steady supply of mint leaves, you should harvest the leaves from the top of the plants; it will encourage the plants to become thicker. If the plants get too dense, you should remove some and place them in separate containers.
Caution: Don’t set the containers near a drying heat source. The presence of moisture is vital for the plant’s life.
Growing Mint by Divisions
As the roots of the mint plants are present in the uppermost layer of soil, it is easy to dig some of them out. Placing these roots in a separate container will give you new mint plants. Consequently, the number of mint plants will increase.
However, if you are dividing an outdoor mint plant, make sure that you remove the soil from the roots. In addition, you should soak the roots in water for about half an hour. When they are clean enough, you can plant them in the soilless media indoors.
Caution: If you don’t pay extra care to the roots, you will end up introducing bugs to your indoor garden.
Dos and Don’ts of Growing Mint
As we already know, mint is a fast-growing and fragrant herb like cilantro and basil. Its horizontal roots are invasive, and they overgrow. In no time, they will overtake the container or the flower bed. So, you have to be very careful about it.
Below are some crucial dos and don’ts of growing mint indoors successfully.
- Place the containers at a place where they can get morning sunlight as well as partial afternoon shade.
- Pick off the mint sprigs before the plants start flowering. It encourages lateral growth of the plants.
- Pinch off the buds as soon as they appear to promote new foliage development.
- Thin the plants regularly and keep them ten to fifteen inches apart.
- Keep the containers away from things like radiators, etc. They can reduce the humidity level down to dangerous levels.
- Rotate the plants daily to stop them from bending towards sunlight due to a process called phototropism.
- Prune off the dried and lanky branches regularly to maintain the shape of the plants.
- If you are planting mint in a submerged pot in an indoor garden, make sure there isn’t any crack in the container. The runners can find their way out and spread all over the garden.
- Make sure that the growing media remains moist as the plants will die in dry conditions.
- You don’t have to fertilize the mint plants because it can kill their robust flavor. They can flourish even without fertilizers.
- Don’t place different mint varieties within the same room unless you want to combine them and produce new types.
- Ensure a balanced water supply. Overwatering causes potential damage to the mint plants housed in small containers.
How to Harvest Mint
Pruning and pinching the plants regularly keep them productive. Not just that, pulling leaves off the top of the plant makes it bushier. You can start harvesting the mint plant once it reaches three to four inches in height.
You can pick off the mint leaves about two to three times in one growing season. The only thing you have to be careful about is the stability of the mint stems. Moreover, as mint plants get older, they start producing woody sprigs.
Furthermore, the harvest of older plants isn’t as much flavorful as younger plants. The younger the plants are, the fresher the crop is. To prevent the cuttings from wilting, you should soak them in water before you use them.
For long-term storage, you can freeze them in refrigerators. Otherwise, you can air dry and wrap them in paper or plastic bags. This way, you can store them for up to one week.
Uses of Mint
This aromatic herb is easy to grow, and its multiple uses make it a valuable addition to any windowsill arrangement. By and large, mint has culinary and medical applications.
Mint is the staple of hot and cold beverages such as tea and mojitos. Sprigs of mint are used for a refreshing taste to juleps, lemonades, and iced water. Not just that, it also adds a minty flavor to ice cream and savory dishes.
What’s more? Mint pairs well various fruit concoctions and is a part of grain salads too. Similarly, you can serve mint jelly with roasted meat, and it is also a significant constituent of tzatziki dips.
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory constituents of mint give it healing properties. Throughout history, people have used mint as a phytomedicine to treat various ailments. For gastric discomfort, mint tea is a granny herbal cure.
Likewise, mint can serve as a cure for skin irritations. Chilled mint tea with a dash of lemon has soothing effects on your body and acts as a painkiller.
Growing mint indoors is fruitful and comfortable; it provides fresh and fragrant leaves to add to sauces and beverages. Exploring and growing different varieties of mint can add to your household benefits.
Moreover, you can involve your kids and keep them engaged in this healthy activity. Now, it’s time to make your very own refreshing beverages and mint-flavored ice creams next summer.