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How invasive is mint?

 
gardener & author
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I've only grown mint in pots before, and had heard it was invasive. I planted some in my herb spiral a couple of days ago and am not sure whether I should put it back into pots before it's too late...

-Is it so aggressive that it will stop my other herbs from growing?

-Is it easy to just chop off the bits I don't want, to stop the spread? Or will the roots overrun everything?
 
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I don't know if you get hard frost or snow there, it might be a factor.
Here I get maybe 4 hard frosts a year, which have no effect on my mint. I planted mint many years ago in one garden bed in a corner (my beds are edged with ceramic roofing tiles that go a few inches deep). the mint went through, under the gravel path, and is now slowly taking over the next garden bed.
What I do now is keep my mint in pots. Thank goodness the rabbits like to eat it!
 
pollinator
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Kate Downham wrote:
-Is it so aggressive that it will stop my other herbs from growing?

-Is it easy to just chop off the bits I don't want, to stop the spread? Or will the roots overrun everything?



It is wildly invasive.  It will overrun everything.  Cold winters don't stop it, mowing doesn't stop it.

I love my spearmint, but I've lost control of it.  Flat out.

The roots spread along the surface of the ground and just below.

If you don't want it to take over, sink a container that has at least 4 inches of depth into the garden to contain it.  I did that with mountain mint, using a bottomless 5 gallon bucket and it stays where I want it.

 
pioneer
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I think if you look up "invasive" in the dictionary, you may very well find a picture of a mint plant.  As far as frost, our temps get to -40F occasionally, and below -20F every year, with temps well below freezing for months at a time and it has no effect on mint plants.  I grow several different kinds and all of it thrives.  It will also take over really large areas of land if you let it go.  Chopping off the bits you don't want won't deter it in the least.
 
pollinator
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Generally speaking it's known as invasive for good reason.  That said I actually have a hard time getting it to grow and not be choked out by my grass.  I've also had it choked out by oregano which really went wild on my property for years.  Interestingly the oregano is now going away with the grass reclaiming that space.  
 
pollinator
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A thought...

Would it be a bad idea to try and use mint to out compete spotted knapweed and cinquefoil while at the same time trying to deter deer?

I have an abandon piece of land I would like to start a food forest on (land used for service behind my house) but I know deer are going to be an issue and the knapweed is awful here.
 
master steward
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Two stories about mint:

(1) When I was a child, probably somewhere between 6 and 8, my mom let me pick out a plant from the nursery. I chose mint because I could eat it. I planted my mint.  My mom has tried to eradicate that mint for years. That mint is still there. I'm now 34. I have taken some of those mint plants and planted them on my property.

(2) My husband drinks a lot of mint tea. Like, he puts 1/3rd cup of dried mint into his tea every day to help combat his Crohn's. I felt silly buying mint, when supposedly the stuff takes over. Growing it in pots wasn't enough, so I planted some by my house and by my duck house. That was two years ago. I've kept buying more plants. I still don't grow enough mint to accommodate his mint needs. The mint hasn't taken over, as I'm cutting it constantly. But, it's only been 2 years. I may very well regret this decision.

I wouldn't plant mint in an herb spiral. I would plant mint somewhere that you don't care if it takes over. Maybe in your grass or under a tree. I have lemon balm in my herb spiral. For the first few years, it stayed really small. Now it's taking over. Come to find out, we don't really like the flavor of lemon balm (though we rub it on ourselves to repel mosquitoes).

I think it might be wise to move your mint out of your herb spiral, unless you've got a pretty big one and it's surrounded by other aggressive plants like salad burnet and oregano. You could then just leave them to battle it out. You should be able to remove the mint from the spiral without it persisting in there.
 
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At my place, mints often struggle to grow. None have become established in the fields that I till, nor in the lawns. There are a few small patches in shady, non-disturbed sites.
 
Kate Downham
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Thank you all for your help! I think I will find some pots for it now. I'm glad I asked before my herb spiral turned into a mint spiral!
 
Ruth Meyers
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I have lemon balm in my herb spiral. For the first few years, it stayed really small. Now it's taking over. Come to find out, we don't really like the flavor of lemon balm  



Yeah, I was going to mention lemon balm too; because I think it reproduces by seed as well, and won't stay contained.  For me, it wasn't worth the fight.

On the mountain mint - I saw how ecstatic it made the pollinators in a city garden.  When I introduced it on the ridgetop, my pollinators just kind of shrugged and ignored it.  I guess they have enough goodnesses already.
 
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Here we have very dry dimmers, which effectively stops it from spreading anywhere that isn't being watered, at least where I am
 
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Kate Downham wrote:I've only grown mint in pots before, and had heard it was invasive. I planted some in my herb spiral a couple of days ago and am not sure whether I should put it back into pots before it's too late...

-Is it so aggressive that it will stop my other herbs from growing?

-Is it easy to just chop off the bits I don't want, to stop the spread? Or will the roots overrun everything?



Super invasive (when you have sufficient moisture).  I planted a small mint plant in the corner of a flower bed since it was closer to the kitchen door than the dedicated mint pot across the yard.   Big mistake.  Took me weeks to get it all ripped out and thank goodness the flowerbed was contained by retaining walls.  

Put it back in the pot ASAP.
 
pollinator
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I wonder if it would work for the bottom of my swales as a ground cover? I suspect our harsh dry seasons combined with local deer would keep it from taking over, and I'd use a lot for tea too.
 
gardener
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Not invasive enough!
No just kidding, it choked out the strawberries and beats up our raspberries in my daughter's garden bed.
I wish it would spread more in some places.
I think it is easy to pull,  but it comes back easily.
 
pollinator
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Honestly, I haven't any luck with mint in pots. It so wants to spread runners that I have never gotten much growth up top. In my experience, planting it in a less optimal spot for it, like shade, has been sufficient to keep it in check. I wouldn't plant it in a herb spiral, but anyplace that is out of the way works great.
 
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I have been able to keep mint under control by pulling up runners.

I did once accidentally eradicate some rampant mint. It had escaped its spot and ran all around under the roses in my mother's garden, so, having heard that it is impossible to eradicate, I figured I'd pull as much as I could and then keep an eye on it, only let it grow back out from under the roses. I pulled up runners while crouching and reaching under thorny roses. Not one bit came back -- oops!

And in other gardens I have controlled it by pulling up any runners that venture out beyond where it belongs. It likes fertile soil, soft soil, and moist soil.
 
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As others have said, weather doesn't effect mint. I did have it growing at the corner of my garden and it kept spreading so I dug it up...…..3 years later it came back, so I dug it up again, only deeper and a wider area....that was 7 years ago and just last week I found it coming up again. So I don't know how anyone is able to get rid of it, once it's started. Best of luck.
 
master pollinator
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In some areas, it's so invasive , that if you told a tenant not to plant it by the river, and they did , that fact should be brought up at your trial, where they might decide to commute your hanging to a misdemeanour and time served.
 
pollinator
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Pull it out! It will totally take over that herb spiral, and chopping up bits often reinvigorates it. I clean up my mints every one or two years when they get scraggly by chopping them up, digging them up and leaving some of the roots still in the soil. They love it. If you don't get 100% of the roots, they will come back, and it's very hard to get them all when you've planted directly into the ground. The previous owners of my home put a lemon balm plant in the ground and I am still digging up bits of it 3 years after moving in and digging it up (which was a task that took me all afternoon). When I lived in an apartment, I kept my mint in one of those over-the-railing planters and at one point it had sent out a runner and colonized one of my next-door neighbor's pots.
 
Meg Mitchell
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Ruth Meyers wrote:

Nicole Alderman wrote:I have lemon balm in my herb spiral. For the first few years, it stayed really small. Now it's taking over. Come to find out, we don't really like the flavor of lemon balm  



Yeah, I was going to mention lemon balm too; because I think it reproduces by seed as well, and won't stay contained.  For me, it wasn't worth the fight.

On the mountain mint - I saw how ecstatic it made the pollinators in a city garden.  When I introduced it on the ridgetop, my pollinators just kind of shrugged and ignored it.  I guess they have enough goodnesses already.



100% sure it reproduces by seed. I did transplant some into a pot but that pot lives on a concrete pad and I clip the flowers off.
 
Meg Mitchell
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Allazandrea Cottonwood wrote:A thought...

Would it be a bad idea to try and use mint to out compete spotted knapweed and cinquefoil while at the same time trying to deter deer?

I have an abandon piece of land I would like to start a food forest on (land used for service behind my house) but I know deer are going to be an issue and the knapweed is awful here.



I've never had to deal with knapweed so maybe I'm missing a key point but, if you can't start a food forest because the knapweed will outcompete your food forest plants, and mint will outcompete the knapweed, how are the food forest plants going to outcompete the mint? This sounds like a variant on the old woman who swallowed the fly, a little bit.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Shade. Wins every time. Most times. English ivy and a few others, sprung from the shady bowels of hell. But shade beats most things.
 
gardener
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As several people here have pointed out, it's not at all invasive if you ever have drought.  Here in Oklahoma the normal summer heat and drought kill it every time, unless it's irrigated.  

Meanwhile I don't understand why invasive mint bothers anybody.  To me it's like somebody complaining about invasive corn, or invasive tomatoes.  I use so much mint, year round, fresh and dried, that I can't imagine it being a problem.  You can mow it, you can walk on it, it smells good, and for me it doesn't choke anything out -- it's just a mild-mannered ground cover that you can cut and use or dehydrate for storage.  I know everybody's situation is different, but that's mine.
 
gardener
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Run!  

Get out of the house and never come back!  In fact, burn the house down, take an assumed name, change your hair color, buy all new clothes, and leave no forwarding address.  

But when you least expect it, you'll be sleeping in a new bed, thousands of miles away in a new state, you'll hear something climbing up the bed post in the dead of night.

MINT!!!


AAAAAaaaaaaagggggghhhhhh!   You'll NEVER get rid of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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That doesn't sound right. My brother's ex wife, isn't named MINT!!!
 
pollinator
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We have a few varieties of mint established in a herb patch. In retrospect I wouldn't plant it with other herbs again. However, the patch is in the middle of a lawn which gets regularly mowed. The mint meanders through the bed - I pull up runners from time to time, pot them up and gift them or sell them - but doesn't escape because of the wide grass barrier.

In future I will be planting mint along some fencelines on the outer edge of the property in a spot that gets browsed once or twice per year by sheep. I love the mint for the flowers and bee forage, but don't want to have to do lots of digging. The same fence line has comfrey planted as well.
 
Kate Downham
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We can all start breathing normally again...I've put the mint into pots and asked it to behave. I'm still dreaming of a garden bed full of peppermint one day, but I won't expect anything else to grow in the same bed, and I will have to think carefully about where I put it now.
 
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It's fine here. I've had it for years and it's still a nice plant. It's hard for things to grow here. I have it planted all the way around my house in the hopes it'll keep mice out. It doesn't. lol
 
Marco Banks
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Kate Downham wrote:We can all start breathing normally again...I've put the mint into pots and asked it to behave. I'm still dreaming of a garden bed full of peppermint one day, but I won't expect anything else to grow in the same bed, and I will have to think carefully about where I put it now.



Don't turn your back on it.  

Drain the swimming pool, put the mint pots in the bottom of it.

Keep the lights on and the guard dogs posted 24 hours a day.

If you see anything attempting to creep out of the bottom of the pot, two words: flame thrower.


There is a bad plant they called mint,
a freeloader who doesn't pay rent.
As invasives go,
it puts on a show,
Don't say I didn't give you a hint.
 
William Bronson
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I was just at my second yard, weed whacking.
The mint there has disappointed me.
It's NOT spreading to dominate the landscape.
I wish it would overwhelm the grass, and smartweed.
I did what I always do, which is to brutalize the competition to the ground with the trimmer.
When I accidentally cut the mint,  it's heavenly.
A yard full of mint would be great!
 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Shade. Wins every time. Most times. English ivy and a few others, sprung from the shady bowels of hell. But shade beats most things.



Poison ivy is one of those that spring from the shady bowels of hell. I've pulled up a ton of it and want something to compete with it. I've got a very large area of shaded area in my back yard, where some pines have been taken down but others still stand, and lots of pine straw on the ground. I'm thinking of trying to get some kind of groundcover started back there; the wild grapes are doing a good job so far, but I want something lower-growing that can get in there and cover ground, too. I was thinking mint, but I take it mint won't make it?

 
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There are something like 7500. mints in the family.
A lady give me mint stem with a few root, it was late Fall, no leaves on it. She saw the look on my face & said plant it, water it & you will have mint.
I did & it did, nice young strouts, the I left the pot in the sun it wilted, I watered it & it came back with no sign of harm.
I moved it to a bigger pot & used it for 5 years.
Then I took it to the farm & planted it in my blueberry patch, with over 20 plants, 6 feet apart & I did not care if they carpet the place.
It grow like wild fire for 3 years, I stop watering it after the 2 year, no fertlizer, just like my blueberry plants.
Three year later, not sign of it, broom straw & wild blackberries & other weeds have grown though the rotten double layer of thick cardboard boxes.
I am thinking about using tarps to hold down the weeds, from Billboard tarps.  https://www.billboardvinyls.com/collections/all?sort_by=price-ascending
No I do not sale or surport this site, just a customer.
 
Diane Kistner
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Joe Grand wrote:Three year later, not sign of it, broom straw & wild blackberries & other weeds have grown though the rotten double layer of thick cardboard boxes.



When I was working on smothering out poison ivy, I used a 15' x 15' heavy-duty black poly tarp I got from Amazon tacked down on an area. I first sprayed the poison ivy with vinegar, then covered it with the tarp for several months. It did a good job because only a few little sprigs are trying to come back up now. I like this size because it's easily folded in half or quartered if I need it for a narrower or smaller area, and I can manage it by myself. It's also a good size to indicate an area of a new guild I want to work on, with tree spacing easy to measure from the edges. I could throw it over my cattle panel arbor in the winter if I wanted to. I don't know how well the tarps will hold up over time, but after a year mine looks good with no frays or tears. I got mine from Harpster tarps on Amazon.
 
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