Is Mint Invasive: Expert Tell You

Discover the truth about mint's invasive tendencies. Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of growing it in your garden. Learn how to control its spread and explore alternative uses. [mint]

Understanding the Nature of Mint

Mint plants, including spearmint and peppermint, spread rapidly through underground stems called rhizomes. Perennials by nature, they have the potential to spread up to 2 feet (0.61 m) per year if not properly contained.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.

mint, rhizomes, green fern plant
Photo by Utsman Media / Unsplash

The Pros and Cons of Growing Mint in Your Garden

Growing mint in the garden has both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, mint plants add attractive fragrance and flavor to the landscape. The leaves and stems can be harvested for use in cooking, drinks and crafts. On the downside, mint is highly invasive due to its rampant spreading growth habit.

Some of the pros of growing mint in the garden include:

  • Flavor and fragrance: The leaves and stems have a strong minty scent that can permeate the garden. They can be used to flavor foods, drinks and recipes.

  • Easy to grow: Once established, mint plants require little care and maintenance. They tolerate a wide range of soil and climate conditions.

  • Attracts pollinators: The flowers of mint plants attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies.

The cons of growing mint in the garden include:

  • Invasive roots: Mint spreads aggressively through underground roots and shoots called rhizomes. It can quickly take over the garden if not contained.

  • Difficult to remove: Once established, mint is hard to eradicate due to its extensive root system. Removing all the roots is nearly impossible.

  • Competing with other plants: The rampant growth of mint can crowd out and compete with other desired plants in the garden.

Growing mint in containers is recommended to limit its spread. Use containers that are at least 12 inches wide and deep. Fill the containers with potting soil amended with compost. Refresh the soil each year to keep the plants vigorous.


Pros Cons
Flavor and fragrance Invasive roots
Easy to grow Difficult to remove
Attracts pollinators Competing with other plants
mint, spearmint, cookies on white surface
Photo by Olga Nayda / Unsplash

Controlling Mint Spread: Effective Strategies to Keep It in Check

Due to its aggressive nature, mint requires regular maintenance to control its spread. Here are some effective strategies to keep mint plants in check:

Containers: Growing mint in pots and containers is the most effective way to limit its spread. Choose containers that are at least 12 inches wide and deep. Replace the soil every couple of years to keep the plants productive.

Borders: Install physical barriers like metal edging or wooden boards to contain the spread of mint. Dig a trench around the mint patch and sink the border at least 6 inches deep.

Rhizome barriers: Place landscape fabric or plastic sheeting with holes underneath the mint plants. The barrier will stop the rhizomes from spreading while still allowing water and air to pass through.

Dye boards: Place boards treated with soil dyes like aminopyralid underneath mint patches. The dye is absorbed by the roots and rhizomes, killing new growth that comes into contact with it.

Stone and pavers: Planting mint in between stone pavers, flagstone or brick pathways can limit its ability to spread. The hard surfaces inhibit the rhizomes from spreading outward.

Regular removal: Manually removing mint runners on a regular basis, every few weeks, can help slow the spread. Pull up any adventitious plant growth emerging from the main patch.

Table: Effective Control Methods

Control Method Description
Containers Grow mint in pots to completely isolate
Borders Install physical barriers below and around mint patches
Rhizome barriers Use landscape fabric to block spread of underground stems
Dye boards Kill new mint growth with chemical soil dyes
Stone and pavers Plant between hard surfaces that limit rhizome expansion
Regular removal Manually remove runners and new shoots emerging from the patch
mint, rhizomes, a bunch of grass that is growing in a field
Photo by SURU HAN / Unsplash

Exploring Alternative Uses for Mint Beyond Culinary Delights

While mint is mainly grown for its delightful flavor and aroma in cooking, the versatile plant has many other uses beyond the kitchen. Here are some alternative applications for mint plants:

Tea: Steeping mint leaves in hot water makes a refreshing herbal tea that has a soothing effect. Mint tea has a high antioxidant content and may provide health benefits for the digestive and immune systems.

Cocktails: The distinctive flavor of mint pairs well with liquor to make popular summertime cocktails like mojitos and juleps. Muddling mint leaves in drinks adds flavor and fragrance.

Pest repellent: The strong scent of mint deters many common garden pests like aphids, spider mites and cabbageworms. Crushing and rubbing mint leaves on plant leaves can help repel insects naturally.

Personal care: Mint leaves can be used to freshen breath, soothe stomach aches, relieve itching and remove bad body odor. Chewing on fresh mint leaves or using mint essential oil can help reduce inflammation.

Crafts: The sturdy stems and aromatic leaves of mint plants work well for craft projects and decorative items. Stems can be woven into baskets and wreaths, while dried leaves can be used for sachets and potpourri.


  • Tea
  • Cocktails
  • Pest repellent
  • Personal care
  • Crafts

Table: Alternative Uses for Mint

Use Description
Tea Steep mint leaves to make a refreshing herbal tea
Cocktails Add mint leaves or extracts to liquor for mint juleps, mojitos
Pest repellent Use mint’s potent aroma to deter garden pests and insects naturally
Personal care Chew mint leaves to freshen breath and soothe stomach aches
Crafts Harvest mint stems and leaves for weaving into baskets, wreaths and sachets
mint, rhizomes, a close up of a leafy plant with a blurry background
Photo by SURU HAN / Unsplash

More Helpful Guide

Frequently Asked Question

How do you store fresh mint?

To store fresh mint, place stems in water in a cup or jar. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Properly stored mint should keep for up to 1 week.

How do you dry mint leaves?

To dry mint, wash and pat dry fresh mint leaves. Remove leaves from stems. Place leaves in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake leaves at lowest oven temp until crispy, about 30 mins.

How do you use mint in cooking?

Chopped mint can be added at the end of cooking to salads, soups, grains and meats. It is often used in marinades, chutneys, and sauces. Mint is blended into smoothies and frozen desserts too.

How do you harvest mint?

To harvest mint, snip sprigs off stems just above a leaf node. Try to harvest before flowers appear. Cut mint in the morning after dew has dried for best flavor.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top