What's happened to your garden mint and what to do about it

Garden mint spreads to the rim of the potHaving fresh herbs outside the back door is easy and convenient. Mint dies down in winter but is now growing strongly again. But if you grew some in a pot last year you will almost certainly see that it is now growing mainly around the rim of the pot, not in the middle where you planted it. This seems strange but gives you the chance to propagate extra plants, and it only takes a few minutes.

Mint is an essential ingredient that can be used in a wide range of savoury and sweet dishes, and of course in quite a few cocktails. There are lots of different types of mint too, so you can have fun experimenting with the varieties. It doesn't need much care, so is easy to grow.

It's so easy to grow in fact, that it's better to grow mint in pots because it spreads very readily and will take over a corner of the garden if you put it in the ground, bullying other plants into submission. 

This is what's happening here. I planted mint in the centre of the pot, and it is trying to spread itself around. It's reached the perimeter of the pot and can't get any further, so it just goes round and round, as you can see when you remove it.
You can turn a spreading int into several new plants
Mint round the edge of the pot, not the middle 
The main root forms a runner that ends up going round and round the edge of the pot, but when it regrows in spring, it does so in several different places, at intervals along its length. If left to its own devices this is how mint colonizes your garden, but containing it in a pot means it's easy to detach the new shoots and get additional plants for free.
Mint spreads under the surface via a large main root
The main root grows round the pot rim

Just get a pot for each shoot, and fill with compost. No need for a rich mix, since mint thrives so easily. Lift it from it's pot and detach each shoot. You can just snap them off the main runner but try to avoid damaging the smaller roots they've formed, as they'll now rely on these. 

One plant can go back in the centre of the original pot. Put the others in their own pots, water them, and pinch off the tips to encourage them to bush out.

New garden mint plant
You can turn each shoot into a new plant 
Now a confession: although I have also used fresh garden mint in making ice cream, most of ours ends up in Mojitos or Pimms! What do you use yours for? Let me know using the comments box below, it would be good to get some interesting recipes - both food and drink!


  1. It's great in tabouli. Use 1 part mint to 2 parts parsley plus the other ingredients.