How deep do peppermint roots grow?

Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)March 1, 2011

I want to grow mint and the only sunny spot I have is on the west side of the house where I have flowers planted. I'd like to plant some mint in a pot so it doesn't take over.

*How tall should the pot be and will the roots eventually grow down and out of a large a foot tall?

*What's the most adaptable, large leafed mint?

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Years ago, in my ignorance, I planted some mint in the garden. I WAS careful to dig in vertical dividers in the garden bed - they were about a metre deep.

But that mint was wily. It grew downwards, escaped the barriers, rang under the ground across a wide stretch of lawn, then under a 2-car-wide concrete driveway, and into my neighbour's garden. It spread in other directions as well, of course!

Since then, I've learned to keep my mints in pots. I don't use particularly large or deep pots, knowing full well that it won't be long before I'll have to repot on a regular basis - and really large pots are too heavy to manage. I use pots about 30cm wide and roughly the same deep, and they are manageable.

The roots of mints are very aggressive growers, almost impossible to confine. They WILL grow out of the drainage holes and take hold wherever they can - even (as in my garden) in the tiny spaces between brick pavers.

So my advice is to put your mint into the largest pot you can easily lift, and to divide and repot your mint on a regular basis. Regardless of the size of your pot, your mint WILL become potbound at some point.

I my subtropical climate, mint prefers dappled sunlight. It will grow in the full blast of the sun, but that makes for small leaves. In partial shade, the leaves grow larger, but they don't have quite the same strength of flavour. Experiment by moving your pots around to find the ideal position in your climate!

Peppermint leaves are smaller than those of Spearmint (the common or garden variety). My personal taste dictates Spearmint, and I find it more versatile for cooking. I prefer to leave the peppermint for dessert-y things. The growth habit of both these are much the same, though spearmint will flower and self-seed as well as spreading by its roots and runners.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)

Sounds crazy! Are ALL mints this vigorous? I want mint only for tea. Which variety would be best?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 7:07PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Mints are one of the great survivors of the plant world. The entire clan is vigorous and respects not borders and boundaries.

Which is best? That's like asking "which breed of dog is best?" It truly is a personal preference as to what makes the "best" tea. I suggest trying various ones and see which mints you prefer. My favorite mints are peppermint, spearmint, catnip, and lemon balm.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 8:24AM
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I daresay you've got the message by now - but in case you're still in a state of disbelief....

The Mints have grand plans for World Domination! They are very good at Invasion and Taking Over. When we talk about 'aggressive growers' we really mean it when it comes to mint.

There are many threads here about mint - and how to get rid of it. Try a Search.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:19PM
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CA Kate

I have mint on the back side of a 4 ' high wall with underground footings 3' down. The backwall mint has successfully sent runners under the footings and come up the other side.

Never underestimate the power of mint -- World Domination is at hand!

I like Scotish Mint best.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 7:23PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Hmmmm.......who would win, the Triffids or mint? I don't even think Las Vegas would make odds on that battle. I suspect a draw!

Even so, I willingly planted mint. I've got it doing battle with other aggressive plants at the moment and believe it or not, it is loosing.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:48AM
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I had periwinkle come up on my hill. Not knowing what it was, I let it grow and it completely took over, even choking out the mint. The part that sucks is, the mint would have been easier to pull out. I have no idea how to get rid of the periwinkle.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:30PM
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Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)

OK, it's pretty crazy!!! I'm putting a new post out there on growing it as a hanging plant.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 3:12AM
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