It is likely that other gardeners have cautioned you about the potential invasive nature of mint, but just how troublesome is it? After all, mint is a widely cultivated herb, isn’t it?
Well, there is a valid reason behind the warnings you’ve heard, so let’s take an honest look at what exactly you can expect.
Whether or not mint kills other plants depends on where you plant it and how well you maintain your garden. Mint is an invasive species that can quickly take over gardens, choking out other plants and robbing them of water and nutrients if left unchecked. Once established, it is difficult to remove.
On the plus side though, there are plenty of benefits to having mint around — like its ability to deter pests from attacking nearby crops or act as a companion for certain vegetables — if kept under control.
In the following, we’ll explore everything you need to know about controlling this determined yet tasty herb.
Disadvantages of Growing Mint
It’s very satisfying to walk outside and cut a few sprigs of homegrown mint to add to your drink or recipe, but when you stroll through your garden only to notice that some of your favorite plants are suffering because your mint is a little too happy… it can be a little disheartening, to say the least.
Before you enthusiastically plant your favorite mint varieties, read through the following drawbacks and weigh the risks carefully.
1. Mint Is Invasive
Mint is an incredibly invasive plant that can quickly take over a garden if not managed properly. It spreads rapidly through underground rhizomes, sending out shoots in all directions and choking out other plants in the area.
Runners will also root readily wherever they come into contact with soil.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to contain mint by planting it in raised beds or containers. This will help keep the roots confined and make it easier to control their spread.
Mint is also known for robbing surrounding plants of their nutrients and water, so it’s best planted away from other vegetation.
If you do find yourself needing to remove some established mint, cut it back and cover the entire area with landscape fabric and mulch. For more difficult patches, you may need to use an herbicide.
2. Mint Is Hard To Get Rid of Once Established
Once established, mint can be difficult to eliminate. The root system is extensive and deep, making it hard to dig out the entire plant without leaving some pieces behind.
Even when you think you have removed all of the mint, any remaining roots or rhizomes will regrow in no time at all.
Additionally, mint spreads through runners, above-ground stems that take root wherever they touch the soil.
So even if you remove one patch of mint, there’s very likely more growing nearby.
3. Mint Will Choke Out Other Plants
Mint can quickly choke out other plants due to its aggressive growth habit. Mint grows rapidly in moist soil and spreads by sending out both above-ground and underground runners that will easily root.
This allows it to cover large areas of ground very quickly, making it difficult for other plants to compete with it for water and nutrients.
The dense foliage of mint also shades out any surrounding plants, preventing them from receiving enough sunlight needed for photosynthesis.
The shallow roots of mint soak up water and nutrients before they trickle down to more deeply rooted plants.
As a result, competing plants may struggle and eventually die due to decreased moisture, a lack of nutrients, poor light exposure, or a combination of these.
4. Mint Can Rob Surrounding Plants of Water & Nutrients
Mint is a very aggressive plant that can quickly take over an area if left unchecked. It has a tendency to spread and compete with other plants for water and nutrients in the soil, leading to stunted growth or even death of surrounding plants.
To prevent this from happening, keep mint away from other plants by planting it in its own container or bed.
When growing mint near other plants, provide adequate space between them so that the roots don’t intertwine and cause competition for resources.
It’s critical to regularly check your mint patch and pull out any stray runners before they have a chance to invade nearby areas. While it may seem tedious initially, taking these precautions will help ensure healthy growth for all your garden plants — not just the mint.
5. Mint Can Be Prone To Pest Infestation & Diseases
Mint is prone to pest infestation and diseases that can spread rapidly throughout your garden if left unchecked. Some of the most common issues include:
- Aphids – these suck out sap from the leaves causing them to yellow or curl up at the edges.
- Spider mites – these feed on young shoots and leaves, leaving behind webs on the stems or undersides of leaves.
- Whiteflies – small flying insects that feed on new growth by sucking out sap from stems and leaves resulting in wilting foliage.
- Powdery mildew – a fungal disease caused by too much moisture in humid climates, manifesting as white spots or powdery patches on both sides of the leaf surface.
- Root rot – another fungal disease brought about by poor drainage.
Be sure to regularly inspect your plants for any signs of infestation or disease.
Discolored foliage, damaged areas, webbing between branches/stems/leaves, etc., should be removed as soon as possible and treated appropriately before the problem spreads to other plants.
For many diseases, copper sulfate products are usually effective. Neem oil is great to use for controlling a wide variety of pests. I use this organic neem for indoor and outdoor plants and have always seen good results.
How To Control Mint
Because mint is incredibly hardy and invasive, it can be difficult to control. If left unchecked, it spreads quickly and can choke out other plants in your garden. To keep your mint under control, follow these tips:
First, consider planting mint in containers or raised beds. This will help prevent the roots from spreading into the surrounding soil and make it easier to remove any excess growth when needed.
Second, prune regularly to keep the plant contained within its designated area. If you find that some of the runners have escaped their boundaries, cut them back as soon as possible before they take root.
Thirdly, use landscape fabric and mulch around your mint plants to help contain them. Mulching also helps retain moisture, meaning you won’t have to water as often.
How To Get Rid of Mint
Removing mint can be challenging as it is an invasive plant that spreads quickly and can choke out other plants.
The best way to get rid of mint is to use herbicides. Herbicides are effective at killing the roots and preventing new growth. However, they should only be used as a last resort since they can have negative impacts on the environment.
Another option for getting rid of mint is to cover the area with landscape fabric and mulch. This will block sunlight from reaching the soil and prevent new shoots from growing.
It’s important to ensure that all existing shoots are removed before covering them with fabric or mulch so they don’t continue spreading underground.
If you want to try a labor-intensive approach, you could remove all existing plants by hand. Be sure to wear gloves when doing this as some varieties of mint may cause skin irritation if touched directly with bare hands.
You almost certainly won’t get all the roots, so you must repeat this process every few weeks until no new growth is seen. Even then, it’s still a good idea to cover the area with landscape fabric and mulch to be on the safe side.
Benefits of Growing Mint Indoors
Growing mint indoors has many benefits compared to growing it outside. For starters, you don’t have to worry about pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites, and diseases that are common in outdoor gardens.
Another benefit of growing mint indoors is that it will be easier for you to control the environment around your plants.
You can adjust the temperature and humidity levels more easily than if they were outdoors, and you can harvest your crop whenever it’s ready without worrying about the weather.
Perhaps the best benefit is that you will not have to worry about its invasive tendencies since it will be contained in a container.
What Grows Well With Mint?
In addition to summer annuals, parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage all make good companions for this fragrant herb as they need similar growing conditions.
Other companion plants include cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, which will benefit from the pest-repelling properties of mint. Carrots are another option because their flavor is enhanced by mint’s presence.
Does Mint Come Back Every Year?
Yes, mint will come back every year. Mint is a perennial herb that can survive through the winter months and return in the spring. It spreads quickly and easily, so it’s important to keep an eye on it or you may find yourself with more than you bargained for.
Mint is a great plant to have in your garden, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with growing it.
Mint is an invasive species and will choke out other plants if left unchecked. It can also rob surrounding plants of water and nutrients, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Knowing how to control mint and eliminate it when necessary are key steps in keeping your garden healthy and thriving.
With proper management, you can enjoy all the benefits of having mint without worrying about whether or not your mint will kill other plants.