Mint grows well in full sun or partial shade, but the optimal sun exposure for your mint plant depends on where you live. In very hot climates with long summers, full sun exposure can be too much for mint, causing it to grow slowly and produce small leaves. In cool regions with cloudy weather or short summers, mint thrives best in full sun. Take your local climate into account to grow the most vibrant and fragrant mint plants.
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The Best Sun Exposure For Mint By Region
Mint is a hardy perennial herb that is known for taking over gardens as long as you keep the soil moist. So, if your mint is struggling you may feel like your green thumb is failing you. In order to help your mint thrive, follow these guidelines for your garden or windowsill planter. The tips below apply to all varieties of mint, including spearmint, chocolate mint, and peppermint.
Regions Where Mint Requires Full Sun
If you live in a cool or cloudy area, members of the mint family do best in full sun. When growing mint in the American Midwest, Northeast, or Pacific Northwest, make sure your mint plant is positioned so that it can receive as much sun as possible. This rule should also be followed when planting mint in Canada and the British Isles.
- Northeast United States
- Midwest United States
- Pacific Northwest United States
- United Kingdom
Mint that is not planted in full sun in these regions may do poorly. The mint leaves may be sparse and far apart on the stem. Your mint may struggle to send out new shoots if it is planted in partial shade if you are growing it in an area with short summers. If you want fresh mint for your cooking or cocktails, provide it with as much sun as you can.
Regions Where Mint Thrives in Partial Shade
Although mint needs full sun in some regions, too much sun in a hot climate can stunt your mint’s growth. If you live in the American Southeast, South, or West, plan to expose your mint to partial shade so that it receives about 5 hours of sun per day. Partial shade also provides the best place to grow mint in other warm regions such as South Africa and Australia.
- Southeastern United States (including Florida)
- Southern United States (including Texas)
- Western United States (including California and Arizona)
- South Africa
If you live in a region with long, hot summer days, your mint will be damaged by receiving full sunlight. This can result in “burned” leaves that turn brown and begin to curl. Your mint may also grow more slowly, producing very small leaves instead of the large ones you’re accustomed to seeing.
Where to Plant Mint to Receive Full Sun
If you live in an area where mint needs full sun to thrive, consider planting it in a garden bed on the south side of your home. Mint in containers should be placed in south-facing windows. In cool regions with cloudy summer days, planting on the east, west, or north side simply won’t provide enough sunlight to your mint.
- If you live in a cool or cloudy region, plant mint in a south-facing garden bed.
- Make sure your mint plant receives 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Choose a planting location that is not shaded by trees, shrubs, or other buildings.
In order to receive full sun, mint should be exposed to 6 hours of sunlight per day. Choose a south-facing location that is not shaded by trees, bushes, or buildings. In this case, the more sun the better.
Where to Plant Mint to Provide Partial Shade
Too much sun in a hot climate can damage your mint plants. Instead, choose a spot that receives about 5 hours of sun per day. Typically, mint does better in a hot climate if it is planted where it will receive shade at midday. This makes east and west plantings best for providing partial shade to mint.
- In hot, sunny climates, plant mint where it will receive sun about 5 hours per day.
- East- and west-facing garden beds and windows are best for growing mint in very hot regions.
- If you wish to grow mint on the south side of your home in a hot region, plant it where trees and other plants will provide shade to your mint for part of the afternoon.
If you must plant mint where it faces south in a hot climate, make sure to plant it where a tree or other plants will cast shade on your mint for at least part of the afternoon. Because mint grows low to the ground, it’s a good idea to plant taller herbs, such as rosemary or sage, near mint to protect it from direct sunlight.
Signs that Mint isn’t Getting Enough Sun
Although moist soils with abundant organic matter are key for growing mint, sometimes your plant may suffer from a lack of sun. If your mint is struggling, here are the signs it’s not receiving enough sunlight:
- Sparse leaf growth.
- Twiggy, long stems that “crawl” toward sunnier areas.
- Faint or nonexistent minty aroma.
Mint is a hardy plant. If it’s not getting enough sunlight, dig it up, pot it, and move it to a sunnier location. If the problem was a lack of sunlight, you should see improvement in your plant in just a few weeks. Once new green leaves begin to sprout, you’ll know your mint is doing fine.
Signs that Mint is Getting Too Much Sun
Just as mint can suffer from inadequate sunlight, too much sun is also detrimental. If you suspect your mint is getting too much sun and heat, look for these signs:
- Pale green, yellowed, or “bleached” looking leaves.
- Dry leaves that are curled at the edges.
- New growth leaves remain very small, even several weeks after appearing.
Mint that is getting too much sun won’t spread well and provide ground cover. If your mint is planted outdoors, consider moving it to a more shaded garden bed. If your plant is indoors, close the curtains to provide light shade during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Does Mint Like Full Sun or Shade?
Mint can thrive in full sun or partial shade depending on the climate where you live. To determine what your mint plant needs, keep in mind:
- In regions with frequent cloudy weather and cold winters, expose mint to full sun.
- In hot regions with long, sunny summers, plant mint where it receives partial shade.
These simple rules will provide you with an amazing harvest of mint no matter what climate you live in. Mint is very hardy and adaptable to several growing regions. It simply needs the right circumstances to flourish.