Mint is a highly versatile herb and is amazingly easy to grow. You’ll find that it’s best to grow mint in pots or containers. Otherwise, it’s likely to take over your garden entirely. For this reason, it’s handy to propagate new plants periodically to ensure that you always have lovely fresh leaves to use.
Here’s a quick guide to growing mint from cuttings.
- Take stem cuttings from the top of the plant that are around 4 to 6 inches long.
- Cut these just below a leaf node and remove the bottom 3 or 4 sets of leaves.
- Make sure you have a few sets of leaves left at the top of the stem.
- Put your prepared cuttings into a glass vase or jar of clean water, making sure that none of the leaves are in the water.
- Place your vase or jar on a bright window sill.
- Change the water in the jar every 3 days.
- Keep an eye on your cuttings until you see some roots forming.
- Once each cutting has a few roots, it’s time to put them into soil.
- Fill small pots with quality potting mix.
- Make a hole in the center of the mix and carefully plant your rooted cuttings.
- Water well.
- Once the plants start to grow, tip prune each stem to create a nice bushy mint plant.
You can also start your cuttings in soil, but we’ll go into this a little later.
Let’s discuss each step in more detail so you’ll know exactly what to do.
1. Taking Your Cuttings
Make sure that you take your cuttings from a healthy plant. Ensure that the tip cuttings that you take are from firm stems that have not flowered. Once the stems start flowering, all the plant’s energy will go towards this rather than producing roots for the cuttings.
Always cut just below a leaf node when you take your cuttings. The leaf nodes are where the leaves attach to the stem. It’s from these leaf nodes that the roots will start to grow. You should remove the bottom sets of leaves by either gently pinching them off or cutting them with a pair of pruning shears. Take care not to damage the stem when you do this.
Ideally, your cuttings should be around 4 to 6 inches long and should still have 2 or 3 sets of leaves at the top. These leaves will provide the energy for the cuttings to start producing roots.
The best time to take your cuttings is spring or early summer. However, if you’re propagating them inside, you can do so all year round as long as your inside temperatures don’t get too low.
2. Placing Your Cuttings Into Water
Choose a glass jar or vase that is tall enough to support the stems of the cuttings. Using a glass container means that you can keep an eye on the stems and can easily see when they start producing roots.
It’s important to change the water every three days or so to keep it nice and fresh. Also, make sure that none of the leaves sit in the water because this will cause them to rot and increase the possibility of fungal infections.
If you put your cuttings on a nice, bright windowsill, the leaves on the cuttings can use the sun to continue to photosynthesize, and this improves the chances of the cuttings rooting.
3. Potting Up Your Rooted Cuttings
Once your cuttings have produced a good root system, they are ready for potting up. This could take around two weeks.
Prepare your pots by filling them with good quality potting mix. Ideally, you want to plant each rooted cutting into its own pot.
Take the cuttings out of the water and separate each stem very carefully. Tease the roots apart gently, ensuring that you don’t break them. If you happen to accidentally break one or two roots, don’t panic. As long as the cuttings have a few healthy roots, the plants should grow happily.
When planting, make a hole in the center of the potting mix and gently ease the roots down into the hole. Using a pencil or the handle of a small paintbrush can help you to gently position the roots down into the hole.
Gently firm the soil around the base of the stem to ensure that your new plant is well supported. Give the plant some water and let the excess drain away.
If you’ve had your cuttings sitting in water inside, you need to condition your new plant before placing it outside into the sunshine.
To do this, take it out into a shady spot, to begin with, about a week after potting it up. Then gradually, over a few days, expose the plant to longer periods of sunshine. If you do this gradually, the plant can adjust from being indoors to living happily outside in the sunshine.
4. Tip Pruning For Bushy Growth
Mint really benefits from tip pruning. This ensures that your plant will be nice and bushy and will produce plenty of nice, fresh growth.
To tip prune, just snip off the top of each stem to just above a leaf node. When you do this, new stems will start to grow from each leaf node. Therefore, where you just had a single stem before, you’ll now have two stems growing from the same spot.
If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll end up with a really nice, bushy plant. And, don’t throw those tips away. Use them in your cooking, as a garnish, or to make mint tea.
How To Propagate Mint Cuttings In Soil
Rooting your mint cuttings in water is the easiest way to grow extra mint plants from cuttings. However, there is one disadvantage to this. When you transplant your cuttings into the soil, there is a chance of the cuttings suffering from a little transplant shock. This could mean that not all your new plants will survive.
To overcome this, you can root your cuttings straight into the potting mix instead. This method may mean that your cuttings will take longer to establish roots, and you’ll also have to provide the cuttings with some humidity to encourage rooting.
Follow step 1 above to take your cuttings in exactly the same way. Then complete the following steps to propagate your cuttings in soil.
1. Prepare Your Pots And Fill
For this method, you want to have one small pot for each cutting. This will eliminate the need to transplant the cuttings once they’ve rooted. Make sure the pots are nice and clean. You can sterilize used pots by washing them in a bleach and water solution.
Either fill the pots with a premium quality potting mix or make your own mix using the following recipe:
- 1 part coco fiber
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part quality compost
This will create a nice, open mix that is free draining but also retains some moisture. Plus, the compost will provide nutrients for your mint plants as they start to grow.
2. Planting Your Cuttings
Before you put your cuttings into the soil in the pots, you might like to dip the stems into some rooting hormone first. You can purchase this from a garden center in either a liquid or powder format. This will help to stimulate root growth. Some gardeners have also had success with dipping their cuttings into flour or even honey.
Make a hole in the center of the soil in the pot with either a pencil or a dibbler. Place the stems of your cuttings into the hole and firm the soil around them. Making a hole first ensures that you don’t rub off the rooting hormone when you place the cutting in the soil. It also ensures that you don’t damage the stem.
Water the pot well and let the excess drain away.
3. Creating A Humid Environment For Your Cuttings
Your new cuttings will benefit from some extra humidity to encourage rooting. For this, you can either put a plastic bag over the top of the pot or make your own cloche using an empty soft drink bottle.
If you choose to use a plastic bag, make sure that it does not touch the leaves of the cuttings. The idea here is to create a mini hothouse. Therefore, you can place 3 or 4 short stakes in the pot to help support the top of the bag. Then, tie a piece of string or twine around the bottom of the bag to secure it to the pot.
To make your own cloche from a soft drink bottle, find an empty bottle that will fit comfortably inside the pot. Cut the top from the bottle using a craft knife or a pair of sharp scissors. Then, place the bottle over the top of the cutting with the open end down to create a mini hothouse.
4. Place Your Cuttings In A Warm Spot
Once you’ve planted your new cuttings, you want to put the pot into a warm spot but keep it out of direct sunlight. This could be indoors near a nice bright window or outside on a veranda or patio that gets plenty of light but not direct sunlight. If you don’t have a bright spot indoors for your cuttings, consider getting a grow light as this will provide not only plenty of light but also some extra warmth as well.
If your inside temperatures get a little cold, you can consider placing your pots onto a heated mat to provide some bottom warmth. You should be able to find these mats in your local garden center or nursery supply store. Most commercial propagators use some form of bottom heat because it helps the plants to establish roots better and faster.
Ensure that the soil is kept moist and never allowed to dry out completely.
You’ll know that your cuttings have taken root when you start to see new leaves start to grow. Once this happens, you can remove the cloche or plastic bag. Keep your rooted cuttings out of direct sunlight for another week.
Then, slowly expose your new plants to direct sunlight gradually. Just keep extending the amount of time that your plants are exposed to direct sunlight by an hour each day. But, make sure that you protect your new plants from the hot midday or afternoon sun until they are well established and have put on a lot of growth.
Planting Your Rooted Cuttings Into The Garden
If you prefer to plant your mint out into the garden instead of growing it in pots, you can do so once the new plants have been well conditioned to direct sun exposure and have put on some really good growth.
Try to choose a cloudy day or plant them out in the evening after it has started to cool down. Make sure that you water your plants well after you’ve planted them and continue to keep them well watered until they’re really well established.
It’s also a good idea to give your plants a regular feed using a natural fertilizer such as worm tea or fish emulsion once every couple of weeks during their main growing season.
When planting outdoors, bear in mind that mint is an aggressive grower, and in ideal weather conditions, it can easily take over your garden if you don’t keep it trimmed. Therefore, ensure that you prune your mint regularly, or you can even keep it in pots and bury those in the soil. This still helps you to fill empty spots in your garden but helps to keep the mint contained.
Mint is such a versatile herb, and growing your own plants from cuttings is really easy. Whichever method you use, if you take a few stem cuttings, you’re bound to end up with a multitude of new plants to add to your garden or give away to family and friends.