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Beginner’s Guide to Growing Mint in Australia

Mint is one of those herbs that everybody should grow. It’s super easy to grow and care for and is perfect for new gardeners.

Mint is also great if you have a semi-shaded spot where not much else will grow or a spot that’s a little damp for most of the year.

The one thing that you do need to know about growing mint is that it spreads prolifically. So, if you grow it in your garden, be prepared to cut it back often otherwise it can have a tendency to take over your entire garden.

That’s why I prefer to grow mint either in pots or contained in some other way. Currently, I have a herb planter that I created myself from an old pallet and that’s where my mint is growing happily. 

I’ll talk more about growing mint in pots or containers a little later.

When to plant mint in Australia

In warmer regions, mint can be planted at any time but it does require protection from the scorching afternoon sun. It will also require adequate moisture as it does not like to dry out.

In cooler regions, it’s best to plant your mint in spring when all danger of frost has passed. Although mint can tolerate frost, it will usually die back during winter and then regrow again in spring. This is because mint spreads from underground runners.

How to plant mint 

mint seedlings | Fruit & Vegetables

Mint will happily grow in any soil type, even clay. However, it’s a good idea to add some organic matter to your soil before planting. 

In cooler areas, mint can be grown in full sun but in hotter regions, it’s best to plant your mint where it will get some protection from the afternoon sun. 

You can grow mint either from seed or from purchased seedlings or plants. Mint is also really easy to grow from cuttings. In fact, if you’ve never propagated a plant from cuttings before, you should give mint a try because you’re sure to get excellent results.

Growing mint from seed

Herbs like mint are best started in punnets or small pots when grown from seed. This is because the seeds are quite small and it’s easier to control where the seeds end up. 

mint seeds in pots | Fruit & Vegetables

Fill your punnet or small pot with some seed-raising mix and scatter a few seeds on top. Cover lightly with some more mix and keep moist at all times. If you live in a cold area, it’s best to start your seeds indoors as they do need warmth to germinate.

How to grow mint from cuttings

If you have a friend who has mint growing in their garden, you can ask if you can take a few cuttings. Just snip off a few vigorously growing tips that are around 10 to 15 cm long. The stems should be green but just a little firm.

mint cutting | Fruit & Vegetables

Strip off the bottom leaves but keep a few leaves at the top of the stem. You can either place these stems in water to grow roots or propagate them in the more traditional way by placing them into a seed-raising mix in small pots.

If you’re starting your cuttings in water, you’ll find that they will develop roots quite quickly. Especially if you’ve put them onto a sunny windowsill.

mint in water | Fruit & Vegetables

Once each cutting has developed some nice sturdy roots, you can plant these into a pot with a premium potting mix.

You can continue to grow your mint in the pots or plant it out into the garden when the plants are large enough. 

mint plant 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

How to care for mint

While mint is really easy to grow, it’s important to ensure that you always keep it well-watered. This luscious green herb really doesn’t like to dry out. If it’s left in dry soil for too long, it will die back but will likely regrow once it’s watered.

Therefore, it’s best to ensure that your mint is grown in a part of your garden that gets regularly watered such as near your veggie patch.

mint plant watering | Fruit & Vegetables

You also want to cover the soil with mulch in order to retain the moisture for longer. Use something like pea straw or lucerne for this.

Mint also likes a good feed on a regular basis. You can either use a slow-release fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter or a liquid feed that you mix with water. If using a liquid feed, apply this around once every two weeks during spring and summer.

The only other thing that you need to do with mint is to give it a regular prune to control its growth. Remember that mint grows from underground runners and if left unchecked can spread quickly right around your garden. 

Therefore, you want to ensure that you tip prune your mint on a regular basis. Not only will this keep the growth in check but you’ll also end up with a pleasantly rounded plant. If your mint has put on a growth spurt, it’s fine to cut it back quite hard. 

You can even use the bits that you’ve cut off to propagate new plants, either for your own garden or to give away to family and friends.

How long does mint take to grow?

mint harvesting | Fruit & Vegetables

Mint grows really quickly in warm weather. Even if you’ve grown your mint from seed, you should be able to harvest a few leaves in around 6 weeks.

When and how to harvest mint

mint harvesting 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Mint can be harvested at any time. Just cut off a few tips and use them as you wish. Regular harvesting will also help to keep your plant in check.

How to grow mint in a pot

Mint is incredibly easy to grow in a pot and this is what I would recommend for most gardeners.

mint in pot | Fruit & Vegetables

Remember that you don’t just have to keep your potted plants on the patio or verandah. Potted mint can be placed in the midst of your vegetable garden where it will help to keep pests away.

Ideally, you want to select a pot that has a wide growing area at the top so that your mint can spread out and grow nice and lush. A large planting bowl is ideal for this but make sure it has drainage holes.

Fill the pot with premium potting mix and plant your mint in this. Place some straw or lucerne mulch on top to cover the soil. You might also want to add some water-holding crystals to the mix or at least place a saucer under the pot.

Make sure that you always remember to water your mint because the soil in pots does tend to dry out quickly. A fortnightly feed with a good liquid fertilizer is also a good idea during spring, summer, and autumn.

Mint pests and diseases

Mint thrives so well in most gardens because it’s not usually affected by pests and diseases. The only problem that you might encounter is white flies.

These are best controlled by hosing them off the plants and hanging some of those yellow sticky strips nearby that the flies will stick to.

Mint companion plants

Not only is mint really versatile in the kitchen but it can also be grown with a variety of different plants. In fact, if you grow mint near your veggie patch, it will help to keep pests away.

Here are some good plants to grow with mint:

  • Oregano
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Peas
  • Beans

Mint varieties in Australia

The mint species (Mentha) contains around 25 different varieties. 

  • Mentha australis is an Australian native mint with a strong scent and flavour
  • Mentha spicata is the more commonly grown mint with a spearmint flavour

There are also plenty of cultivars available such as apple mint, chocolate mint, ginger mint, and pineapple mint.

FAQ

How much sunlight does mint need?

Mint does best when it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Around 4 hours of sunlight daily is sufficient.

What should I do if my mint is flowering?

Pinch off the flowering buds as soon as you see them as this means that your mint is about to complete its life cycle. Or, you can let the flowers grow, develop seeds and then use these seeds to grow new plants.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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