How Does Mint Spread? And How To Stop It

There are a lot of benefits to growing mint, so a lot of new gardeners want to jump in without knowing a lot about the plant. Although the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, we still need to remember that mint can grow very quickly.

If you’re planning to grow mint, you should also take steps to prevent the mint from growing out of control.

To ensure you know everything you need to know about mint spreading, below I cover how mint spreads as well as how fast and what you can do to stop it spreading. I also discuss whether growing it in pots can be the solution to stop mint getting out of control.

Why Grow Mint?

Mint is part of the Mentha species that makes up 25 different species of mint plants. Most are perennial plants, although there are some mint plants that are strictly annual plants as well.

Mint plants are know for their fragrant leaves and the beautiful flowers that they produce. They are also known, of course, for their ability to rapidly spread. But, I’ll go over that later.

So, why exactly do people grow mint? Why is it so popular?

Of course, you’ll know that mint is used in many things in our everyday lives. It’s used in toothpaste, candy, candles, ice cream, etc. People simply love mint, and that’s reason enough to grow it. But what are some other reasons?

The most common reason people grow mint is to use it in cooking. Spearmint, peppermint, and orange mint are the three kinds of mints most commonly used in cooking. These mints add a lot of flavor to a dish, and are often used in dishes that need an extra kick.

If you grow mint in your kitchen or in your garden, you’ll always have fresh herb to use in your cooking.

Mint also smells great which is another reason so many people like to grow it. Mint will easily freshen up your home naturally, whether you’re growing mint in a pot or are using the dried leaves. Many people will dry the leaves from the mint in their garden. They will then stick the dried leaves into satchels that they’ll place around their homes.

Along with the sweet smell of mint comes the benefit of keeping pests away. Although we as humans love the smell of mint, bugs and other pests hate it. The strong aroma is distressing to them. So, many people use mint satchels or mint essential oils around their homes to keep pests at bay.

Mint spread
Mint

Do Mint Plants Spread?

Mint plants do spread and they can do so quite quickly. In fact, if you don’t keep your mint plants in check, they can become quite a problem very fast. How fast a mint plant grows really depends on the particular kind of plant and what environment it’s living in.

Does Hummingbird Mint Spread?

I couldn’t find a direct answer on whether hummingbird mint spreads as fast as other kinds of mints. However, information about the plant suggests that it does not.

The hummingbird mint plant does grow very quickly and is self-seeding. Still, it appears that it generally does not grow more than 16 inches tall and wide.

If you’re looking for a mint plant that does not spread as rapidly as the others, hummingbird mint might be a good option. This is also a great plant for attracting hummingbirds, if you enjoy their company. The bright reddish purplish leaves are well-loved by the little pollinators.

How Fast Does Mint Spread?

How quickly mint spreads depends on the environment and which type of mint plant you’re growing. Still, we can give some general numbers.

For example, peppermint can grow from cutting to filling a 4-inch pot in just four weeks. It will continue to grow at a speed of 4 inches per month. So, if you’d like it to continue to grow, you’ll need to regularly replant it in a bigger pot or in your garden.

Because peppermint can grow 4 inches a month, it will easily become a 2-foot-long plant in just 6 months. You can see how this plant can easily begin to take over your garden.

How Does Mint Spread?

The quickness with which mint plants spread is owed to the rhizomes or runners that are rooted underground. Rhizomes are tough and grow completely underground, so they can easily take over an entire garden, plowing through other plants in its path.

Not even a garden bed or border can stop mint because the rhizomes grow underground. They’ll simply grow under the border.

Another factor that aids in the spreading of mint is that you’re not dealing with one single plant. Sure, you’ll start off with one plant. But, as the rhizomes spread, new plants are created from those rhizomes. In the end, you have multiple mint plants working together to create one giant plant.

This being said, mint can and will just continue to grow for however long you allow it. So, if you’re considering planting mint, you’ll need to know how to control it.

How Can You Stop Mint From Spreading?

Unfortunately, because mint grows so fast, it can be quite a problem in some areas. In certain states, it is considered an invasive species. Even if it never leaves your garden, you won’t want it taking over your entire yard and killing your other plants.

So, what can you do to slow down or stop the growth? You do have options.

Impermeable Boundaries

If you’re going to grow your mint outside, you’ll need a way to stop it from growing. Of course, you’ll want to prune your mint like any other plant, but this won’t be enough. Mint grows from the rhizomes underground. So, even if you prune the leaves that are above the ground, the plant will continue to spread where you can’t see it.

The only real way to stop spreading is to put up a barrier that prevents that plant from growing. But, because the rhizomes grow underground, this can be difficult. You’ll need to get garden walls or boards and dig them at least 6 inches into the ground. If you don’t place them at least 6 inches deep, they’ll be useless.

Grow It In Less-Than-Ideal Conditions

Like every plant, mint has its preferences for where it’s grown. The better the conditions, the quicker it’s going to grow. Of course, growing your mint in less-than-ideal conditions isn’t really recommended. Doing this will leave you with a plant that’s not as healthy and doesn’t produce good-tasting leaves.

Still, it’s an option. Mint likes to grow in partial shade. It likes rich soil with slightly acidic to neutral pH. It also needs soil that drains well. They can withstand a wide range of temperatures, but like high humidity.

So, if you’re want to slow the growth of your mint, plant it where it can’t grow as well. Try placing it in an area with mostly shade. Deprive it of some nutrients or plant it in soil with a basic pH. Place it in soil that doesn’t drain as well, or plant it where the humidity is low.

Again, this isn’t recommended and you have to keep in mind that these practices could kill your plant. But, if you have no other options, you can try this.

Kill It

Of course, we don’t really recommend this option either. Mint has so many great benefits and it would be a shame to eliminate it. But, if mint has overrun your garden and you’re desperate, this can be used as a last resort.

Avoid using unnatural weed killers like RoundUp because these will kill your other plants and can hurt animals. Instead, use a mixture of 2 cups of salt, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and 1 gallon of white vinegar. You’ll need to spray this over the mint plant over multiple sessions to kill it.

Can Mint Be Grown In Pots? Does This Stop It Spreading?

Mint can absolutely be grown in pots and this is actually one of the best ways to do it. Growing your mint in a pot allows you to have better control over the plant and will keep it from spreading.

As I covered above, mint uses underground rhizomes to spread. If these rhizomes have nowhere to go, then the plant won’t spread. Fortunately, the pots will limit the growth of your mint without killing it.

Pots give you even more control over your plant because you’ll know exactly what kind of nutrition it’s getting. You can move it around the house, making sure that it receives adequate sun and water.

You can even plant the pots underground. If you’re set on having your mint plants outside but are afraid of them over spreading, just stick the pot underground during the growing season.

Final Words

If you want to grow mint in your kitchen or garden, it can be done, you just need to use some precautions. Mint spreads using rhizomes underground. These rhizomes will spread like wildfire and can quickly overtake your garden.

Fortunately, there are ways to stop the spread of mint. The easiest way is to grow it in pots. Pots prevent the rhizomes from spreading and will keep your mint plant small. Pots are great because they can be used inside and outside. If you want to plant your mint outside, simply place the pot into the ground and allow your mint to grow. It won’t grow outside the pot.

If pots aren’t for you, you can use barriers in your garden as well. Barriers like walls or planks work just as well as pots at preventing the spread of mint. The only thing you need to remember is to place the barriers at least 6 inches underground.

If you follow these steps, you can enjoy fresh mint in your garden without the worry of it taking over your space.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn if peppermint also spreads and here to learn if mint can repel bugs. You can also find all my guides to growing mint here.