Mint is a wonderful herb to add to your garden. It’s best as a potted plant or separated from other plants because it grows like crazy. That, coincidentally, makes it a fantastic groundcover!
If you prefer to keep your mint plant in check, it grows well in a container. You can decide how big your plant becomes simply by choosing a pot size.
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There are different times in the year when you may need to prune your mint plant, depending on its size and age.
This guide to how to prune mint will help you to determine when to cut back your mint, the best way to cut to promote new growth, and what to do with your harvest.
How to Prune Mint Plants
Potted mint plants, especially those grown indoors, can be picked at during their entire growing season. If you just need to use some mint in a recipe or for your tea, just pinch off a few leaves with your fingernails.
To promote new growth quickly, pick a small harvest a few times per month during the growing season. It’s best to pinch back the first sets of newer leaves at the top of the stems.
Make sure to pinch right at the base of the leaf, careful not to damage the stem. Use your fingernail for a clean cut.
The exceptions to regular trimming are young plants that have not yet reached four inches in height. Let your mint establish its roots before you give it a cut.
Read more: The Delightful Herb Called Wild Bergamot
Mint Harvest Season
Mint thrives well in all types of climates. In climates that don’t experience frost, mint will grow year-round. In zones that get below freezing, it will go dormant and begin growing again in the spring.
Mint in Zones 3-7
If you’ll be enjoying a white holiday season, your mint plant will need to be harvested sometime between July and September. Look for flower buds, and cut your mint before they bloom.
It’s important to pinch off the buds if you do not harvest your plant. This will promote growth in the next growing season.
Even if you don’t harvest, you will still need to prepare your mint for the winter. Most gardeners will agree that cutting it down is the best way to do this. Plants that are kept to die off will suffer breakage from cold weather and heavy snow.
Read more: Tips to Get Your Herb Garden Growing Fast
Mint in Zones 8-13
For those who have a year-round growing season, you can harvest your mint every three to four months. Look for buds that indicate blooming will commence soon. Usually, this is three months after the plant’s last harvest.
At this time, the leaves are at their strongest flavor because they are packed with essential oils. If you’re not ready to harvest, keep your mint growing by pinching back the flower buds before they bloom.
Mint Harvest How-To
Your mint plant is full of life. You can smell its beautiful aroma from feet away. It’s time to harvest the delicious leaves and preserve them for later use.
1. Harvest Your Mint At Its Peak
Wait until you see buds form, indicating that the mint will soon bloom. If your plant is young and does not flower yet, harvest when the plant reaches 90 days of maturity. You’ll notice that it’s very aromatic and has a vibrant green color.
If the leaves begin to yellow and it has a subtler smell, it has passed its peak.
2. Check for Pests or Diseases
Look over your mint for eaten leaves or discoloration.
If you need to rid of pests, use an organic method only. Do not use pesticides, as the plant will absorb them and you will have to wait for another harvest season. Organic methods may be used, but wait a week before harvest.
Read more: 13+ Wonderful Herbs That Like Full Sun
3. Cut Plant Stems Down to Just an Inch or Two
Use a good pair of shears for cutting. Make sure to leave an inch or two of each stem so your mint will regrow.
4. Dry Your Mint for Storage
To preserve your mint for later use, loosely hang stems upside down.
Use a string to tie around each stem for easier hanging, and so the leaves aren’t crowded. It’s important that they receive good airflow so your mint doesn’t develop mold.
Choose a dry, well-ventilated, and warm area for curing (hanging). Keep mint stems out of the sun, as this can reduce the flavor and promote mold growth.
5. Store the Dried Leaves In an Airtight Container for up to a Year
Keep your herbs out of the sunlight and in a dry, cool spot. Separate leaves from the stems, and store them in an airtight container.
Keep them whole until you are ready to use them, so they retain their flavor for longer.