Mint comes in many different varieties, but today we’ll look at one of the more popular kinds to grow indoors, spearmint. Spearmint is a fairly easy to grow, and it can last for many years if it has been properly cared for. Spearmint can be quite invasive though, so best to give it it’s own space. Today we’ll look at how to grow spearmint indoors!
Important to note, a lot of these tips will be specifically aimed towards spearmint, but many other mint plants, such as peppermint, require similar care. If you’re looking to grow a different variety of mint, many of the same ideas will still be true!
When looking to grow spearmint, there are two main ways to do so. The first is the traditional seed route. The other is to take a cutting from an existing spearmint plant. You can of course also grow from a seedling which are available at most hardware stores or nurseries.
When starting from seeds, plant them about 1/4″ inch deep in the soil, and give them around 24″ of space between. Mint is a very fast growing plant, so ample room is required or it will quickly overgrow its neighbors. Mint typically will begin to sprout in about 2-3 weeks, and this can be sped up by providing a heat source from the bottom. The top of a refrigerator is a great place to keep your seeds before they sprout because of this.
Another good way to start is to take a cutting from an existing mint plant. To do so, take a 6″ cutting from an existing mint plant and remove the bottom leaves. Submerge the bottom 2-3″ in water in a container, and allow this to sit in sunlight. The cutting should begin to sprout new leaves and begin to produce roots, at which point you can replant it into a more traditional container. During this process, make sure to change the water out every 2-3 days, and provide it with bright, indirect sunlight.
In addition to either of those you can also start with a seedling grown at a nursery. This is probably the easiest route, but neither of the other options are overly difficult for those lacking a nursery or who are starting out of season.
Watering & Feed
Spearmint likes the soil to remain moist, but not overly wet. Check the top inch or so of soil, and once that begins to feel dry give it a healthy dose of water. A few inches weekly should be more than enough, but may be a bit less than this depending on the enviroment. This is especially true in the winter when most plants will slow their growth and need less care. Take care not to overwater, and if nervous about not watering enough try lightly misting the plant daily with a spray bottle.
For fertilizing, spearmint should only be fertilized infrequently if at all. Too much fertilizer can actually dull the flavor of the plant which is the exact opposite effect most people want from a herb. Use a half strength, water soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks at most, or an organic compost. Unlike many other plants, mint will still grow during the winter months. This means you can continue feeding year round if you desire. It’s also a good idea to repot once a year or so to swap out with fresh, nutrient rich soil.
Spearmint is a fairly hardy plant and grows easily so be sparing if you do decide to use fertilizer. It can often get by without it. This is what makes it very easy to grow spearmint indoors as it has a fairly easy care schedule.
Like most herbs, spearmint should be given a decent amount of sunlight in order to grow optimally. Give the plant at least 4 hours of bright sunlight, but try to get closer to a full 6 hours.
While the light should be bright, do your best to not allow it to sit in direct sunlight for too long. This can fry the leaves, and eventually damage the plant. If your plant does get a lot direct sunlight lightly mist it on hot, bright days to give it some moisture.
Using grow lights are also good for those having trouble hitting these numbers. They’re especially important when starting from seeds as for the first few weeks the sprouted seedling will need additional sunlight. Spearmint however can be damaged by excessive heat, so make sure your lights are not too close or that they are not getting overheated during intense summer sun. LED lights are a good choice here as they give off very little heat.
Either way, spearmint does enjoy periods of shade as well. When planting outdoors, traditional advice is to give it morning sun and afternoon shade. Try your best to replicate this pattern when indoors as well for optimal growth.
Harvesting spearmint is simple, the mint leaves can simply be picked off as needed. It’s also a good idea to clip back the stems a bit to stimulate healthy growth. Mint is a very aggressive plant, and will grow quickly, so don’t feel bad about cutting it back! You can even use these cuttings to grow additional plants if you so choose.
Even if you don’t plant on using the mint regular pruning is essential for proper growth. Pruning will stimulate the plant, and this encourages it to keep growing and helps prevent bolting.
One thing to note, make sure to clip off any of the flowers buds before they open. This prolongs the time for which the plant will produce the mint leaves. Once the plant begins to flower it will ruin the flavor of the plant.
Grow Spearmint Indoors
Spearmint is a great plant to grow for any gardener, and is delicious for many culinary uses. It’s an easy to grow plant that is perfect for any level of gardener. While the above info was aimed at spearmint growing, most mints such as peppermint will respond to similar care routines.
Can I plant Spearmint with Other Plants?
Generally no, spearmint is a very aggressive plant that will quickly choke off other plants grown nearby. A good way to grow in close proximity though is to keep the spearmint in its own container to prevent it from spreading to neighboring plants. You can grow it with other plants, but you must be diligent in cutting it back before it spreads.
What Type Of Container Is Good For Growing Spearmint?
Use a container that is wider than deep. The mint roots don’t grow particularly deep, but do like to spread out. Give them enough room to do so or they may encircle themselves and choke the plant.
What Temperature Is Best For Growing Spearmint?
Try to keep temperatures above 60°F, spearmint is not very frost tolerant. Also keep it away from any sources of dry heat such as from a furnace vent or heating unit as these can damage the plant.