Mint is one of the herbs you must grow in your garden, or in containers around the house. It’s incredibly easy to grow and its versatility has no bounds. Here’s how to harvest mint leaves for tea, meals, and medicinal purposes.
How to Harvest Mint Leaves
There is no trick to harvesting mint leaves. Mint leaves can be picked individually if you just need a few, or the plant can be pruned, stalks and all, down to 2-3″.
To harvest mint leaves, use sharp scissors to cut leaves and stems off your growing mint bush. Do not harvest more than one-third of the plant as it knocks it back a bit too much for quick regrowth.
Best Time to Harvest Mint Leaves
The best time to harvest mint leaves is in the morning, when the essential oils are vibrant. You’ll get the most intense flavor just before the mint plant begins to flower. Young mint leaves are more tender and have better flavor.
Start harvesting mint leaves in the spring as soon as the plant has leafed out. Continue to harvest as often as possible throughout summer. Harvesting mint leaves frequently keeps the herb in check and tells the plant to produce new leaves.
The more you pick, the more mint leaves grow, so keep picking throughout the growing season.
Harvest Mint Tips
- Harvest mint leaves in the spring just before they start to flower.
- Harvest the leaves early in the morning.
- Pick fresh, young leaves.
- The more you pick, the more they will grow.
How to Grow Mint
The better you grow mint, the more mint leaves you can harvest. Here are some tips to grow the best mint.
Mint is easy to grow. It is a hardy, creeping herb that can get out of control. If you have a smaller garden, it may be best to keep it contained in a pot. In larger gardens, mint is a great, useful ground cover.
Mint prefers morning sun and partial afternoon shade, adequate water, and well-draining soil in most climates. Mints are susceptible to verticillium wilt and mint rust. Prevent these diseases by removing all the dead stems and leaves from the bed before winter.
- Mint is easy to grow.
- Grow mint in containers in small gardens.
- Useful ground cover in large gardens.
- Morning sun, partial afternoon shade.
- Adequate water.
- Well-draining soil.
- Remove dead stems and leaves before winter.
How to Propagate Mint
The best and cheapest way to get some mint is to grab a cutting from a friend’s plant. Mint is easy to grow from cuttings.
Dig down and get some roots and take 6-inch cuttings from the plant. Lay the cutting horizontally in a shallow prepared place in the garden or pot and cover lightly with soil.
If you don’t have friends with a mint plant, buy a mint plant from the nursery, seeds can be difficult. You can also root cuttings in water and then plant outdoors when the roots are 3-4 inches long. Keep the soil moist.
Where to Grow Mint
Most plants, including mint, grow so much better and healthier in the ground. Containers come with the dangers of dehydration, over-watering, and infertile soil. However, mint will grow well in a large, roomy container on your patio, in a small container on your kitchen bench, or in a shady place in the garden where other plants may not grow.
If you have space and do choose to grow mint in the garden, it is advisable to first submerge a container in the ground where you mint plants will grow. Use either a bucket, container, or large can with top and bottom removed. You can also use 5″ garden edging and leave the rim just above ground level.
This will prevent a mint invasion and ensures that mint’s fast-growing root system will be contained. If you have plenty of space or want a large crop, you can grow them straight in the ground. I haven’t found mint to be a problem, it makes a particularly useful ground cover. It actually grows fast enough to keep the weeds down!
Mulch your mint plants to prevent weeds, retain moisture, and control spreading roots.
Where Can I Plant Mint?
- Large, roomy container on your patio
- Small container on your kitchen bench
- Shady place in the garden where other plants may not grow.
- In the garden, with or without a root barrier.
How to Use Your Mint Leaf Harvest
- Dry mint leaves for later or use them fresh.
- Twist a few clean leaves to release the oils, and add the crushed leaves to a cup of hot water. Steep the leaves in hot water for a few minutes to make a soothing mint tea.
- Freeze mint leaves along with cranberries, blueberries, or raspberries and water in ice cube trays for parties and just for fun.
- Great in Middle Eastern dishes.
- Potatoes, mint, and peas is the perfect combination, but try mint with eggplant too.
- Toss mint leaves into fresh fruit salad or add it to salad dressings and marinades.
- Garnish platters, tapas, and antipasto with the lime green mint leaves.
- Chop some mint sprigs into your salad, it’s the best.
- You can store it in the fridge with the cut ends in a jar of water or wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel.
- Mint jelly, my favorite with roast meat or fish and vegetables.
- Try candied mint leaves for that special cheesecake dessert.
Mint Leaves as Medicine
One of the quickest and easiest ways to benefit from mint’s healing properties is to have it as a tea. Use two teaspoons of fresh mint leaves or 1 teaspoon of dried mint leaves in a tea pot or tea strainer. Steep for about 5-10 minutes to get the full benefits and flavor.
Harvesting Mint Leaves for Tea
A cup of mint tea may help to:
- Reduce the susceptibility for growth of bacteria and viruses in the body.
- Relieve gas and indigestion.
- Alleviate morning sickness.
- Relieve a congested nose.
- Freshen breath.
- Repel pests including mice, cockroaches, deer, and ants. It contains pulegone, an ingredient in many natural insect repellents.
The smell from mint leaves is divine and healing, just keep bunches of it around the house in vases everywhere and feel invigorated, motivated and fresh.