How do I over-winter my mint?

bedtimeJuly 8, 2014

I live in zone 6b and have:

Apple mint
Chocolate mint
Ginger mint
Pineapple mint
Peppermint
Spearmint (not in pic)

My question is: Can these plants survive winter? While I'm quite certain peppermint and spearmint can, I question the other varieties. They all seem to be rated at least a zone 5 or lower, but that is often under optimal standards and these are first year plants.

I'd rather not bring them in if at all possible as the mint plant I brought indoors last year had severely slow growth upon bringing them back outside (in pic bottom right).

I'm also wondering how much and when to harvest the last crop before winter, or if I should just leave it as is.

Thanx

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eibren(z6PA)

Pineapple mint should be able to overwinter outside in a pot in your zone, especially if in a southern exposure and with some protection from wind.

I have never had much luck with chocolate mint, and my ginger mint disappeared after I left it out one winter, but I do not have full sun.

Your herbs look very happy in their pots.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:25PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

Apple, chocolate, spearmint, and peppermint survive just fine through the winters for me. But then I don't have them in pots above ground either. So the fact that you are growing in pots may have an effect on their hardiness.

Rodney

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:57AM
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bedtime

eibren,

Can i ask if these are potted plants that you had?

I face south and am about 10 floors up. I get full unimpeded sun from 11:30am - 6:00pm. I could protect them from the wind, but at the sacrifice of some light.

Here is the pineapple mint (for each response I will post a picture):

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:52AM
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bedtime

Rodney,

Thanx! I've been cutting the runners that appear atop the soil in hopes that they will grow into roots beneith the soil.

Here is the chocolate mint:

This post was edited by bedtime on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 12:11

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:05PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Yes, BT, the herbs I lost were all in fairly large pots, on the ground outside, with a northwest exposure. The pot my pineapple mint was in was probably a bit smaller than yours, with a southern exposure with about a five foot bank rising just behind it, surrounded by shrubs that broke the wind. Possibly your balcony would stay warm enough and be adequately protected from the wind since it faces south?

My pineapple mint was the variegated kind, with white spots. It goes very well with pineapple sage in teas. Pineapple sage is a tender perennial, but it can become enormous in just one summer, and has pretty red flowers.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 4:40PM
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bedtime

eibren,

I'm wondering now if bringing them indoors would be a better option for winter; at this height there is an abundance of wind as there are no structures to stop it; as well, no way to keep it warm; either it's in freezing weather or in 20C inside.

Ginger Mint:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 5:02PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

You can always root some cuttings and keep those inside over winter while leaving the big plants outside. That way if the big plants don't survive the winter you'll have backups.

Rodney

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:21PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Rodney's idea is a good one. It would be easier to keep rooted cuttings alive, imo. I have never had much luck bringing herbs in for the winter.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:46PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

How cold does it get in winter where you are? Could you rig up some sort of insulated jacket for the pots? A box of leaves, bubble wrap or packing peanuts or something? The mints will be dormant so light is not that important. You could uncover them for a breather on mild days.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:42AM
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bedtime

Rodney,

I might think about doing that.

Peppermint:

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:46PM
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bedtime

eibren,

I've been thinking about it and I think I will not make the backup plants indoors from cuttings; as for the reason: If the outdoor plants do not fair well it is not very sensible to try growing new ones of the failed ones outdoors. I've already tried them indoors and have seen the results.

Pineapple Mint:

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:52PM
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bedtime

FloralUk,

This is what I am going to do and thank you for the suggestion. I could put all the plants in my giant rubbermaid containers and insulate them from the ground and all sides. I like the breather idea too! Perhaps at times during the day i could opening the lid for sime air. The temp can dip to a low of about -25C (-13F) on the coldest days.

Ginger Mint (flower):

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:00PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Your plans sound good--but to clarify, there is a difference between rooting and overwintering cuttings, which have the vigor of a new plant, and trying to overwinter full grown ones that are used to the outdoors.

I personally would probably take a few cuttings and just let them sit in some water to root through the winter, changing the water periodically. That way you bring a bit of green indoors, but not whole plants that dry up and drop their leaves. For some reason colored glass (I first noticed this with a green one) seems to work better for rooting.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:17PM
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bedtime

eibren,

This is doable! I like the idea of having a few cuttings in water to have the appearance of life inside during the winter. I will do this.

On a side note, might get rid of Ginger Mint. Don't much like the taste, slow growth rate, and inability to cut flowers easily.

...

Chocolate Mint soil and roots; been cutting runners; several by the day!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:26AM
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