The Great Mint Repotting Caper

potbound mint
This year old Egyptian Mint is dying from the center out due to lack of root space.
poorly growing mint
The Curly Mint, below right, has been in this pot for a year and is near death.

These two pots of mint show retarded growth due to lack of soil space. When roots have no place to go, plants die. Both of these mints were planted the year before in spring and should have been repotted sooner. Shown here in early summer, these plants are no longer productive. Had they been repotted in March, they would now be contributing copious amounts of mint for our culinary pleasure.

old mint
The plant sitting on the concrete is a brand new three inch pot of Egyptian Mint. Notice how much bigger the leaves are than those of the stunted Egyptian Mint in the year old planter.
Mint ready for division

This plant has completely formed its roots to circle the pot. This is a sure sign that the plant is rootbound and has used all of the soil in the pot. See that white line that looks like a thick root? That is actually a mint runner looking for fresh soil. It can’t find it within the pot so it is heading around the pot. Often this is when the plant escapes through drainage holes in pots and roots in the ground without you knowing!

A shovel is used to split the roots
Mint divisions ready to repot

Save your hands and use a sharp spade to slice the original pot into quarters. Choose one of these to put back into your pot. It might also be necessary for it to fit back into your pot to cut off the bottom two inches or so of the dirt ball.

Proper potting mix for mint

When replanting use the highest quality potting soil you can afford. We use a mix of peat moss and perlite. Perlite is the white particle that is actually a heated rock that expands and puffs out, similar to the way corn pops. We have also added an organic fertilizer and moistened the mix. It helps to have the mix moist before planting to avoid having the plant swim in the potting mix while trying to get it wet.

Just deep enough for repotting

Fill your pot about a third full making sure to have at least two inches of new soil on the bottom. The more fresh, unused soil the better the mint will grow.

Two new mints

The Egyptian Mint on the left the quarter plug of the old mint and the other is a brand new plant. Notice there is plenty of room from the soil line to the top of the pot for water. Water well and get ready for tea! If your mint grows really fast, it may need to be repotted twice a year!

Get more information on choosing and using the many kinds of mint