Why you need to grow mint in a planter

I love mint! Mint tea, mint flavorings, mint in lotions potions and brews oh my! Spearmint, peppermint, lemon mint, chocolate mint...I could go on and on. The best way to use mint is fresh, so of course I need to grow some every year. Luckily mint is a super easy to grow perennial and one plant can produce fresh mint for years!

How to grow mint

However, mint is a very invasive plant. It reproduces by sending out roots called runners just below the soil. First you'll notice small mint plants popping up close to the parent plant. Then you'll notice them farther and farther away until suddenly they're everywhere!

Since the mint plant is sending out runners in different directions, it seems to take over all at once. So one mint plant can quickly turn into a garden full! This is why you need to grow mint in a container. 

By keeping the roots neatly contained in a planter, you will prevent them from sending out those runners under the soil line. 

Growing mint the right way

I decided to plant the mint in a planter and being as frugal as I am, I started looking around for things to reuse versus buying a new planter. That is how my mint ended up being planted in a kitty litter box, and a galvanized tub that was left behind by the people that built this house.

I ended up drilling some holes in the bottom of the square metal tub and sinking it into the dirt until it was few inches below the soil line. Mint likes a sunny location so I have it smack dab in the center of my garden.

how to grow mint

Now let's get to that other planter. Isn't this the weirdest cat litter box you've ever seen? The concept is that any litter the cat kicks up the sides, just slides back down to the bottom with the rest. The reality is that cat just kicks the litter out of the front and back of the litter box instead. *sigh* 

Oh...and my fat cat tries to get out the sides and tips the whole thing over. Epic fail! That's ok, all I had to do was drill some drainage holes in the bottom, add some soil and the mint I got from our seedling exchange at work and I'm good to go with my fancy litter box planter. 

You could probably use just about any container you have laying around for mint. Just don't plant mint directly in the garden without some way of keeping it contained, or you won't have anything but mint in your garden after a season or two!

mint planters

Oh, and when you're choosing your planter make sure it's not cracked. I wouldn't use ceramic because it can crack if it's left submerged in the garden over winter (learned that the hard way!) The runners can get out through the cracks and you'll suddenly find new mint plants popping up all over the garden. 

Lemon balm is in the mint family and will do this too. I'm seriously overrun with it right now because I used a ceramic planter.  

I should mention that with a planter as shallow as the cat box, the roots will freeze in a zone like mine. (5B) When the roots freeze tight like that, the mint will not come back the next year. If your mint is in danger of dying over winter, take a cutting and root it to create a new plant!

To prevent this killing freeze, you can transplant the mint into the garden a few weeks before the first frost is expected. Mulch heavily. Transplant out again right after the last frost of spring. It's a pain in the butt for sure, but it wont take over your garden this way!

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  1. What a clever re-purpose! I love adding mint to my morning cup of coffee. -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

    Thank you for linking to Tuesdays with a Twist!

  2. I could imagine a cat flipping that over! You found a much better use for it.. great idea!