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Propagating Mint: A Refreshing Guide for Homegrown Herbs

Though countless how-tos have been written about controlling the spread of mint, there’s no denying that this herb–with its many subvarieties–is something that many folks intentionally want to grow more of! And knowing how to do this yourself can really empower your gardening expertise.

Read on to learn all about propagating mint from the plants you already have. This includes how to propagate mint in soil or in water, and how to transplant your mint so that it thrives in your garden, landscaping, or anywhere else you plant it.

propagating mint

Propagating Mint from Cuttings: Why It’s the Best Option

When you first dip your toes into the waters of propagating mint, you are likely to discover that there are a couple different methods for the task. However, propagating mint from cuttings is by far the best and most popular option. Ever wonder why that is?

Propagating mint from cuttings is super simple and usually has a high rooting rate. In fact, when done correctly, most folks will see propagated mint start to root in either a soil or water environment in just a matter of days!

The trick to this best option for propagating mint is to ensure you have the right tools, skills, and timing when you harvest and start to root your cuttings. Once you have these nailed down, you can propagate as much mint as you want–and then some!

Propagating Mint in Soil or Water: What’s the Better Environment?

Rooting of mint on window sill

As mentioned above, you can propagate mint cuttings in either soil or water. You will find there are pros and cons to each, and it’s important to have your propagating solution settled on before you start the actual task of propagating mint cuttings.

When you propagate mint cuttings into soil, you are going to end up with a lot stronger root system. After all, soil is their natural domain! This in turn will help ensure your propagated mint survives the transplant shock of potting.

However, it can be harder to get mint cuttings to root in the soil in the first place. So the trade off is that you might have a lower turnover rate of actual, successful propagation with a soil base.

Getting your mint cuttings to root in water is extremely easy, and can even be quite satisfying to watch through a glass sided jar. However, the root system on this type of propated mint will be significantly weaker. This runs a higher risk of your mint plants succumbing to transplant shock and dying off once potted.

Again, both methods of propagating mint are valid, but both run the risk of some unpleasant struggles. Ultimately, it is up to you which rooting environment you are most confident to work with.

How to Propagate Mint from Cuttings: A Step by Step Guide

Woman's hand cuts a sprig of mint from a potted plant with kitchen scissors isolated on white

1. Choose the Right Time to Propagate Mint

The first step to properly propagating mint is to know the right time in which to do it. To be as effective as possible, and to have the healthiest mint cuttings you ever could, you will want to aim for gathering your mint cuttings in the late spring or early summer.

At this point in the growth cycle, your parent mint plant from which you’re taking the cuttings should be growing taller, but not yet starting to flower. This is the ideal stage for gathering some healthy mint cuttings to propagate.

Before it begins to put its energy into flowering, the stem of your mint plant will still be focusing all of its precious energy into root growth. This is the energy you want to tap into for propagating mint, as it will ensure the kind of downward growth you desire.

2. Prepare Your Environment Ahead of Time

Whether you are rooting your propagated mint cuttings in soil or water, it is crucial to have the receiving environment prepared ahead of time. Because mint cuttings have a short life span once separated from the stem, they will begin to wilt and wither rather quickly after you cut them.

With this in mind, you will want to have a vase of water or some soil prepared ahead of time and ready to receive the mint cuttings as soon as they are cut.

When choosing a vase for rooting mint cuttings in water, aim for a clear glass vase that is tall and narrow. This will help keep your mint stems upright, and will also allow you to see when the root system begins to flourish.

3. Properly Remove Cuttings from a Mint Plant

To effectively propagate mint cuttings, you will need to take cuttings that are between three to five inches long. This length allows for the stem to then sprout new roots, with plenty of room for them to grow. Shorter stems can inhibit the effective growth of roots.

Take some sharp scissors or pruning shears to the mint plan from which you are propagating, removing several stems with leaves intact from the main plant. These will become your propagating mint plants.

4. Prepare Your Mint Cuttings for Propagation

Before you propagate mint into its new environment, there is a tiny bit of prep work that needs doing. Using either your fingers or your garden pruners or shears, carefully remove two to three sets of leaves from the bottom of the mint stem cuttings. This will leave several empty leaf nodes, which will in turn be helpful to the overall growth of your propagated mint.

5. Root Your Mint Cuttings In Their Environment

Lemon balm, common balm or balm mint (Melissa officinalis) on garden

Rooting Your Mint in Water

When rooting your mint cuttings in water, fill the base of your vase with about an inch of water. Place the mint cuttings in the vase as you would any cut flower, and then change the water any time it begins to look cloudy or brackish. Do not allow the leaves to touch the water, or else they will likely begin to rot.

Place the mint cuttings in a bright area, but without exposure to direct sunlight. Keep an eye on the root system, and you should see the roots begin to thicken and grow to a healthy length after a couple of weeks. You don’t want to wait much longer than that to transplant, however, as this can heighten the risk of your propagated mint falling prey to transplant shock.

Rooting Your Mint in Soil

When rooting your mint cuttings in soil, all you need is some good potting soil and a small pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. This drainage hole is crucial for propagating mint, as the mint cuttings are more likely to rot if the soil becomes waterlogged.

Before you root the mint cuttings in soil, you do have the option to dip the base of each stem in rooting hormone. However, mint is such a hardy propagator, this step is not necessary for its overall health and growth.

To plant your mint cuttings in the soil, use the tip of your pinky finger or the eraser end of a pencil to pierce the moistened (not drenched!) potting soil. Then, place one mint stem into each hole you make and gently close and firm the soil around it.

You can easily grow a few stems of propagated mint in a single pot, provided the pot is large enough. A good way to measure the space is that the leaves of your mint cuttings should not touch.

Once set in the soil, place your mint cuttings in indirect sunlight until you see new growth on the upper plant. Keep your propagated mint water just enough for the soil to be moist, but never drenched. After several weeks, your propagated mint should have taken root.

At this point, you can either divide your mint stems into different indoors pots, or leave them in a single pot until you are ready to transplant them outdoors.

6. Transplant Your Propagated Mint

Once your mint cuttings have propagated in either their water or soil environment, the time to transplant has arrived! You may want to transplant to a growing pot, or transplant your mint cuttings outdoors.

With mint cuttings grown in water, you will first need to transplant them into a pot to get them rooted in the soil. To do this, you will need a moist potting mixture and a small pot with a drainage hole; you can carefully shift your mint into the soil, in a hole dug wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the root system’s size and depth.

Give the water-based mint plant a couple of days to adjust to its new soil environment. You may see it droop a bit as it adjusts, but this is totally normal. Keep it out of the sun and don’t fertilize it, and it should recover after a few days.

Once your mint cuttings are firmly established in their pots, you can then move them into the sunlight and start to feed them. A low dose of a liquid fertilizer such as compost tea or fish emulsion is recommended to begin with; you can slowly increase the amount over time.

When you are confident your propagated mint is thriving and well established in its pot, you can then transplant it into your garden or landscaping. It’s best to do this on a cloudy day or in the evening, after the heat of the day has passed. Be sure to water your mint thoroughly afterward.

Wrapping Up Propagating Mint

Feeling equipped for propagating mint from your own plants? That’s not the only herb you can propagate and enjoy all throughout your garden and landscaping! Check out our Herbs page to learn all about various types of herbs, their uses, how to propagate them, and so much more.