So you’re growing your own mint and you are interested in tips for harvesting its leaves?
We’ve got you covered with 8 tips for you to keep in mind when harvesting your mint! Knowing how to harvest mint means you can make the most of the hard work you put into planting, maintaining, and growing your plants!
We’ve compiled a few tips we learned — after over 30 years of growing and harvesting mint for both retail and wholesale production, these are things we learned along the way!
1. Start harvesting anytime after the spring is 3-4″ tall
If you are eager for some mint, it can be harvested when you have a bunch of sprigs that are just 3 to 4 inches tall.
Harvesting a few stems early on will encourage future growth and a bushier plant! You will want to make sure the plant has plenty of time to get established, but typically mint will respond well to being cut back a little bit early on.
Mint is often likened to a weed, in that it grows rampant throughout the summer. This is great if you are looking forward to some fresh mint tea for months on end.
Here’s more information on how often to water your herb plant.
2. Harvest mint often!
It’s important to harvest your regularly throughout the summer, especially if you are growing a sizable amount or if you are only cutting a few sprigs for yourself when you do harvest.
When given enough water and sunlight, mint will grow vigorously. Too much growth may result in the plant producing flowers, or “going to seed”. While this may make the plant look more attractive, it actually can take away from the herb‘s aroma and flavor, so its not advised.
Typically if you are harvesting your mint regularly, the plant going to seed won’t be an issue. If the plant starts to become straggly, this is a good indication that it should be harvested or cut back…which leads us to our next point:
3. Cutting back the mint plant promotes growth
If you aren’t in need of mint at the moment and your plant looks like its about to go to seed, or even if it already has gone to seed, all is not lost! Cutting back the plant will “reset” the plant and encourage it to grow new, fresh stems.
If you have a large patch of mint, it can even be mowed down. Given mints’ relentless growth, the plant will come back with new growth in a few weeks.
4. Don’t overthink the length of the mint sprig
At Homestead Gardens, we cut the mint so that the sprig has 3-4 inches of length, which makes it easier for handling and use. Really, mint can be cut to any length! It’s not as much where you cut on the stem, as much as its about your preference for length.
If you are only looking for a few leaves, they can be plucked off a stem, too. Doing this may not promote as much growth in the plant, though.
5. Keep mint fresh with water
Even after being cut, mint sprigs will appreciate water. Water can keep mint fresh or even revive mint sprigs that have wilted.
You can either place mint in a cup of water in your fridge or on your counter if you are using it soon. It can also be put in a plastic bag (spritz some water in the bag before closing) or a container in the fridge.
Bonus: propagate your mint
As a bonus tip, mint can be propagated, or grown from cuttings, like many other herb plants.
Similar to how you might strip leaves off a mint sprig when propagating you’ll want to start by clearing a way for the roots and place the sprig in some water.
Soon, you’ll start seeing little rootlets grow out of the sprig!
As a recap, you have some flexibility when harvesting your mint: when you harvest, how you harvest and how often is up to you — just make sure you are cutting back or trimming the plant on an ongoing basis or the plant may take over your garden.
Harvesting mint is a low-risk activity, as the plant will normally grow back, even if you do cut it back hard.