How to Water Mint Plants


How to water mint plants

I love my mint plants and have been growing them for more than 15 years as a staple part of my herb collection. During this time I have learned several tips and tricks to keep them hydrated even in time of drought. I have even experimented with different watering techniques to find out what really works.

In this article, I share with you everything I have learned so your mint can grow free of drought stress, and you can have more mint than you know what to do with! (I had to start giving mine away!)

My best advice is to water mint plants twice a week, watering thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot or container. Mint plants require the soil to be evenly moist but not saturated to prevent wilting and avoid root rot. If the top inch of the soil feels dry, give your mint plants a good soak.

For those of you in a rush, I create a quick reference table for typically how often to water mint according to different conditions:


Conditions:

How Often to Water Mint Plants:
How often to water mint plants indoorsTypically water 2 times per week. Increase watering in high temperatures or if mint wilts.
How often to water mint plants outdoorsAs a general rule water 2 times per week with a good soak. If the top inch of soil is drying give it a good soak.
How often to water mint in potsWater potted mint 2 or 3 times per week and increase watering if the top inch of the soil starts to feel dry.
How often to water mint plant seeds and seedlingsWater once every day in the morning for seeds and emerging seedlings. As seedlings mature water every 2 days.

Keep reading to learn how to establish a watering schedule for your mint plant that works for your climate and conditions and how to know when your mint needs more or less water…

How to Water Mint Plants (Indoors and Outdoors)

From experience, I found the secret to healthy mint plants is to water mint is to give the soil a really good soak and then wait until the soil is only somewhat moist to a finger’s depth before watering again.

I do this to achieve the balance between watering enough to meet the mint’s moisture requirements, but not to risk overwatering.

I always water my mint plants thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot or container, as this indicates that the water has infiltrated the soil so that it is evenly moist and the roots of the mint plant can access the moisture that they require.

Mint is, of course, perennial (it comes back every year), and some of my own mint plants are 15 years old, which I personally attribute to watering thoroughly every time I water. Here’s why this is important:

Watering the mint thoroughly, encourages the roots to grow and establish in the soil, which makes the mint more hardy and drought-resistant during high temperatures in Summer.

If you water your mint plants too lightly with just a sprinkle of water then only the surface of the soil is moisten which encourages the roots to grow shallow, nearer the surface which makes the mint plant much more vulnerable to drought as the roots cannot access moisture further in the soil.

Every time I see poor growth from mint plants, I have learned that watering too lightly is usually the cause (a lack of sunlight is another very common cause).

Pro tip: Ideally, you should water mint plants in the morning as this charges the mint with water before a hot summer day so it can grow and make the most of the sunshine. I have had much better results watering in the morning rather than in the evening.

How Often to Water Mint Plants?

This is a tricky balance, and in my experience, it requires some personal experimentation and close observation.

Mint should be watered as often as required to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Generally, this means watering mint thoroughly when the top inch of the soil feels only somewhat moist. Do not let mint plants dry out, as this causes the plant to wilt.

There is no universal watering advice that works for mint plants in every climate, different exposures to sun, and different pot sizes, as this can all have a bearing on how quickly the soil dries and, therefore, how often you should water your mint.

I have grown mint in both hot climates and mild climates. I personally found when I lived in California that I had to water my mint twice a week in the Summer, and I remember watering every 2 days during one partial heat wave.

Now that I live in a milder climate, I find that watering once a week is sufficient! I think this highlights the need for a little testing on your end.

Another thing that you need to be aware of is that larger pots have a greater soil capacity and, therefore, a greater capacity to hold moisture. If your mint is planted in a good-sized pot then typically water your mint with a really good soak twice a week in Spring and Summer.

I experimented with growing mint in several different pots when I lived in a hot climate. Based on my primary research (granted, on a small scale!), I concluded that the bigger and deeper the pot, the better for maintaining the moist soil that our mint plants love.

However, I must emphasize the importance of adjusting how often you water mint according to the hours of sun and the temperature.

The best way to establish how often to water your mint according to your climate and conditions is to monitor the soil to detect when the top inch of the soil starts to feel somewhat dry, at which point you give your mint plant a thorough watering.

I do this with my finger as I find I can personally detect moisture far more precisely than using a moisture meter. I have personally experimented with using moisture meters, and I just found that they were not sensitive enough, so their guidance on watering was unreliable.

By monitoring the soil, you can ensure the mint has the correct balance of moisture to stay healthy, prevent wilting, and avoid root rot.

The monitoring of soil also lets you know when to adjust how often you water your mint plants, to ensure they receive enough water at different times of the year and under the different conditions that can affect how quickly the soil dries.

How Often to Water Mint Plants in Pots?

Watering Mint plants growing in pots.
This is one of my pots of mint that is growing abundantly. It’s a nice deep pot that holds the moisture well after watering, so it works great in a hot climate.

I learned that good watering practices should be in a cohesive strategy with the right type of pot, the right pot size, and good potting soil or compost that helps to retain moisture to keep your mint healthy and hydrated.

(To learn more about this read my articles, best potting soil for herbs and best pots for herbs).

Smaller pots dry out a lot quicker in full sun in which case you could have to water your mint as often as every day at the height of Summer, so ideally plant your mint in a pot that is around 12 inches across so that the roots have more moisture and nutrients to access to prevent drought stress.

I learned this the hard way when my mint shriveled up in full sun during the Summer due it being planted a tiny pot!

Good compost or potting soil that retains moisture yet allows excess water to drain effectively (to avoid root rot) can help to maintain the optimal balance of moisture for mint plants in pots.

Water your mint plants as often as required to keep the compost moist. This might mean every other day in a heat wave, but usually, once a week is a good rule of thumb. Be reactive to see when the soil feels as though it is starting to dry and water accordingly.

How to tell if you are Watering Mint too Often or Not Often Enough

Our first indication that our mint plants are not receiving enough water is a wilted appearance with leaves that may curl or droop. Mint leaves curl or droop to reduce their surface area, which minimizes transpiration and water loss through the leaves, which I think is quite a clever survival strategy!

If left underwatered, the leaves of your mint can often start to turn yellow from the bottom of the stem, but I have also seen underwater mint turn brown and crispy, which I figured out was due to the combination of dry soil and scorching sun.

The good news is that our mint plants are hardy and resilient and often mine perks back up after a really good soak.

When my own mint plant was suffering from underwatering, I placed it in the morning sun followed by afternoon shade (to protect the mint during the hottest part of the day), and my mint perked up after a really good soak.

I have personally experimented with lots of potting soil for mint plants to determine which performs best. I have tried:

  • Store bought potting soil.
  • Homemade garden compost.
  • Well rotted manure.

Out of all three the garden compost worked the best, which I think is because it had a good amount of leaf mold (which is incredible for holding moisture). It is in this garden compost that my mint grew the best.

Store-bought compost is okay as long as it does not contain peat (as this dries out and becomes hydrophobic) and manure worked well too, but It didn’t hold moisture quite as long as the garden compost, hence why it is my preferred potting medium.

From my experience, it is difficult to overwater mint plants if they are planted in good compost. Compost has a good porous, aerated structure that allows excess water to drain away, significantly reducing the risk of root rot.

The only time I have seen people encounter problems with overwatering is because they have compacted the soil too firmly when planting the mint. If you from the soil too much, you push oxygen out of the soil, and it becomes less porous, which means it can get boggy and cause root rot.

If the mint is in slow draining soil, that stays saturated between bouts of watering (as opposed to just evenly moist), then the mint roots are starved of oxygen (which is require for root respiration) and can no longer function properly which makes them unable to draw up moisture and nutrients and the leaves turn yellow with a drooping appearance.

This, of course, can also happen if you do not have a pot with drainage holes in the base.

Pro tip: I put my potted mint plants on little ‘feet’ (just some decorative stones) which elevates the pot off the ground and allows water to drain from the base of the pot efficiently. I started to do this because once my mint plant pot was on a patio, and the water pooled around the bottom of the pot without escaping properly, which caused root rot.

(If your mint is overwatered and turning yellow read my article, how to revive a dying mint plant).

How to Often Water Mint Seeds and Seedlings?

Water mint seedlings every 1 or 2 days so the soil is evenly moist but not saturated. The soil’s surface should feel as though it is drying slightly between each watering. Newly emerging seedlings require watering daily in hot temperatures, whereas more mature seedlings only require watering every 2 days.

Again, we need to react to the environmental conditions when we think about watering mint seeds and seedlings. In cooler climates or on overcast days, they should be watered once every two days, but you should adjust your watering according to the amount of sun and level of heat, with daily watering often necessary in hot climates or on sunny days.

If you water mint seedlings too often, then this can exclude oxygen from the soil which is needed for the development of roots, and promotes the conditions for fungal disease.

I had to learn a method of watering my mint seedling through some trial and error; what I found worked was to allow the surface of the soil to feel as though it is drying slightly between bouts as this allows oxygen into the soil as an aerated porous soil structure is essential for the developing roots to function properly.

Also, keep in mind that the roots of mint seedlings are not significantly developed, which can leave the seedlings vulnerable to drought if the temperature is too high, in too much direct sunshine, or because of underwatering, hence why daily watering is required for the young seedlings in hot temperatures.

I did a little experiment to determine the best way to grow and water mint seedlings. I grow 50% of my plants in full sun and 50% in morning sun, followed by afternoon shade.

What I discovered was that the seedlings grown in the morning sun followed by afternoon shade grew better and had better roots than the mint plants grown in full sun. I concluded that the reason for this was that the mint grown in the morning sun was able to retain a little more moisture, and the seedlings could grow without having to contend with afternoon heat.

Both seedlings eventually grew, but the seedlings in the morning sun grew to be more robust and larger plants thanks to their early advantage of better root growth.

Always water in the morning which charges the seedlings with water for the day and gives the soil a chance to dry slightly by the evening which helps mitigate the risk of fungus and mildew.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for a visual guide on how to water seedlings:

Key Takeaways:

  • Mint plants prefer moist but not saturated soil, so water them thoroughly twice weekly to ensure they have enough water to prevent wilting and root rot. If the top inch of the soil feels dry, give your mint a generous soak.
  • Always water mint thoroughly, as this promotes good root development. Watering too lightly causes shallow root growth, making mint plants more vulnerable to drought.
  • Water mint in pots with a good soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. This ensures that enough water has infiltrated the soil and reached the roots to prevent the mint plant from wilting.
  • Water mint plant seeds and seedlings once every day or so, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist but not saturated to avoid promoting fungal diseases such as root rot.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts