Mint is a fast-growing plant that spreads low to the ground, often smothering other plants. In order to prevent mint from taking over your garden:
- Plant mint in a pot or window planter instead of in your garden bed.
- Even if you are planting mint in your garden, plant it in a pot buried at ground level.
- Turn in-ground mint pots periodically to make sure mint roots don’t escape the pot.
- Plant mint in an out-of-the-way corner of your garden.
- Choose a high traffic area for your mint plant—foot traffic will help slow its spread.
- Choose companion plants that resist takeover by mint, such as rosemary and sage.
- Harvest leaves from your mint plant often to keep it to a manageable size.
These simple tips allow you to grow fragrant, sweet mint among your other fresh herbs. Employing these methods will keep that tiny mint sprout you planted from becoming an invasive plant.
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Why Does Mint Choke Out Other Plants?
Mint spreads to overtake the garden due to the fact that it sends out aggressive runners aboveground and spreading roots belowground. If the nearby plants are low-growing, grow slower than mint, or are not yet strongly established, mint can take over their territory. The thirsty mint plant will rob the soil of water, starving the other plants in your garden.
- Mint spreads quickly because it sends out both runners and aggressive roots.
- Mint kills other garden plants by stealing moisture from the top inch of soil, starving its neighbors.
- Plant tall-growing and deep-rooted plants to prevent mint from taking over vegetable gardens and herb beds.
Mint is a ground cover plant that grows low and wide. Additionally, mint is a very shallow-rooted plant. Companion plants that grow taller than mint or send deeper roots into the soil generally resist a mint takeover. They stand tall enough to get sunlight and their roots pull moisture from areas of the soil that mint won’t reach.
7 Methods for Preventing Mint From Killing Other Plants
If you’re worried about your mint taking over the garden, there are several steps you can take to prevent this outcome. The tips below will keep mint contained so that you can enjoy a garden full of flourishing herbs and flowers. Use the methods below to keep this voracious perennial herb under control.
Plant Mint in Pots
Keeping mint in containers is one of the best ways to ensure it does not overrun your garden and choke out other plants. Rather than planting your mint in the ground, keep it in a large pot on a patio or along a walkway. Mint grown in a pot can’t spread outside of these confines. This means your mint will always remain at a manageable size.
- To prevent mint from spreading, plant it in a pot instead of in your garden.
- If your mint outgrows a small pot, you can choose to move it to a larger pot if you wish.
- Consider growing mint indoors or in a window planter instead of as part of an outdoor garden.
Another great idea is to grow your mint indoors or in a windowsill planter box. This not only prevents mint from conquering an entire garden, but it also keeps this wonderful herb close at hand as you cook. A potted mint plant in a kitchen makes it easy to add mint to any recipe you desire.
Use In-Ground Pots
Even if you want to grow your mint in your garden, consider keeping it in a pot. During planting, dig a hole large enough for you to bury the pot itself. With the mint planted so the pot is set at ground level, your garden will have a natural look. The pot in the ground will keep the mint roots contained and prevent them from spreading aggressively.
- When planting mint in a garden, plant it in a pot buried at ground level.
- Planting mint in a buried pot contains mint roots and limits spread.
- Use a pot that is large and sturdy enough to keep the mint contained.
When planting a pot in the ground, use a large ceramic pot. Plastic pots will often crack from the pressure of the surrounding soil, allowing the mint roots to escape. Avoid using metal pots, as these can rust. Jagged, rusty metal in your soil is not ideal for any garden.
Turn In-Ground Pots
If you plant mint in pots buried at ground level, rotate the pot every 3–6 months. This will break off any mint roots that have escaped through drainage holes in the pot. If left to their own devices, these roots can spread and create a mint infestation.
- Turn in-ground pots every 3–6 months to break off escaping mint roots.
- If you do not turn in-ground pots, mint will eventually escape and begin to overtake the garden.
- Turn the pots 90–180 degrees (one-quarter to halfway to a full rotation).
When you turn your mint pot, it’s best to turn it at least 90 degrees. This will break off any escaping mint roots. It also has the added benefit of rotating the mint plant so that shaded areas reach the sun. This promotes a fuller, more beautiful mint planting.
Choose a Corner Planting
One of the best ways to protect your other plants from invasive mint is by keeping the mint far away from the competition. Although mint thrives in full sun or partial shade, choose an out-of-the-way corner of a garden bed. Avoid planting mint in the middle of a garden bed, where it may spread in all directions to smother other plants.
- Plant mint in a corner or edge of a garden bed at a safe distance from other plants.
- Do not plant mint in the center of your garden—it may spread in all directions to choke out nearby plants.
- When possible, plant mint in rocky or gravel-mulched areas to slow its spread.
If you have a particularly rocky garden bed or an area with gravel, this is perfect for mint. The rocks will slow the spread of the plant. This allows your other vegetation to thrive.
Plant Mint in a High-Traffic Area
Mint is among the most popular herbs because it is so hardy. You can use this trait to keep your mint under control. Simply plant mint along a path or walkway where it will be stepped on by you, family members, or pets. Foot traffic will slow the spread of the mint but the plant will survive.
- Plant mint in areas of gardens and walkways where it will be walked on by people and pets.
- Foot traffic will slow the spread of mint but won’t kill the plant.
- As a bonus, walking on mint releases a fresh minty scent.
One benefit of using mint as ground cover on and around garden paths is that each time you step on mint, you’ll get to smell its aromatic fragrance. Don’t worry much about destroying mint by walking on it. It takes a lot more than that to kill this herb.
Plant Hardy Varieties Nearby
When planning your garden, plant mint alongside species that can resist mint’s tendency to take over. Herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano grow well alongside mint and are not easily choked out. By surrounding mint with these varieties, you’ll cultivate a sustainable herb garden.
- Grow herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano alongside mint.
- These plants are tough enough that mint will struggle to choke them out.
- Rosemary and sage grow tall and send down deep roots, ensuring they get sunlight and water no matter how aggressive your mint is.
Rosemary and sage are two of our favorite plants to grow alongside mint. Both of these herbs grow taller than mint, allowing them to receive sunlight in gardens where mint is the ground cover. Their deeper roots also help them pull water from the earth without directly competing with mint.
Mint has several applications, from cooking, to cocktails, to making mint tea. Mint also has antibacterial properties, making it one of the most valuable medicinal plants you can grow. Take advantage of this by picking sprigs of mint often for your use. Frequent harvesting will slow the spread of mint.
- Pick sprigs of mint often for use in your kitchen, cocktails, and teapot.
- Harvesting mint curbs its spread and slows takeover.
- Mint has medicinal properties, meaning its use goes beyond just the kitchen.
If your mint is simply growing too fast for you to use all those fresh leaves, consider gifting some to friends and family. Most people love the gift of home-grown mint tea.
Will Mint Take Over Your Garden?
Without the right precautions, mint is capable of overtaking a garden and smothering other plants. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, plant your mint in a pot. You can even bury the pot at ground level if you want mint in your garden bed but are concerned about it spreading too aggressively. Choose a corner planting for mint or plant it somewhere that it will be exposed to foot traffic. Both these measures will help slow the spread of the plant. When choosing plants to grow alongside mint, select hardy herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary. Finally, don’t be shy about harvesting your mint. Take as much as you need. This will keep your mint from spreading but won’t kill the plant.