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How to Transplant Mint (Step by Step)

Mint is a fast-growing plant that can spread quickly. Because of the rapid growth of their shallow roots and rhizomes, repotting is often necessary to keep them from outgrowing their containers.

The most apparent indication that your mint needs to be transplanted is the appearance of bare growth in the plant’s center. Trim away any dead parts, remove your mint, and transplant it into a pot one size larger than the previous one. Allow for dappled sunlight and rich soil with good drainage.

Signs That Your Mint Needs A Larger Pot

One of the best things about gardening is having a collection of mint plants. 

I love growing different kinds of mint all year long because their leaves are so lush and smell great.

The best way to grow mint is in a pot because they are well-behaved and thrive in that environment. 

Containers help control their rapid growth and ensure they don’t take up more space than necessary. 

Even if you decide to plant your mint in the ground, I highly recommend first sinking the pots into the soil.

Furthermore, the pot’s rim should be visible above the soil level. 

Using this technique, I can dig up the mint plants and move them to larger containers as needed over several months.

The primary purpose of potting mint plants is to prevent their rhizomes from taking over your garden. 

The real question is how you know your mint needs a larger container.

However, there are numerous signs that a mint plant needs to be moved to a larger container:

[1] Uneven Green Growth

The key to solid mint foliage and healthy plants is consistent attention throughout the growing season.

However, putting your mint plants in the wrong pot can hurt their greenery. This is most noticeable when they resume growth after overwintering.

In most USDA hardiness zones, mint plants die back when it gets cold.

I suggest putting their pots in a shed, greenhouse, or garage that is protected but not heated.

Your mint plants will look like they are dead, but hold on.

If early spring temperatures consistently hover around 55°F (13°C), your mint plant will come back to life.

Small shoots and leaves may appear from the nodes of the seemingly dead stems if you keep an eye out for them.

If the weather is arid, you should consider lightly watering your mints. These plants return to life quickly and will be green again in almost no time.

But if your mint’s green growth is uneven or inconsistent across its length, it might need a new, bigger pot.

Perhaps your plant has become rootbound. This is especially true if the only spots of new green growth are around the edges of the plant.

Your mint might benefit from a larger container if there is no new green growth in the middle of the pot.

The rhizomes under the soil provide energy for further development in the spring. If the plant only grows on the pot’s sides, the rhizomes have tangled up and wrapped around the sides.

[2] Central Wilting and Die-Back of the Mint Plant

You know your mint is rootbound when the stems, shoots, and leaves in the center begin to wilt and die back.

Split your plant into three or four sections and transplant each section into a new pot.

Another option is to move the entire mint plant to a new, larger container.

[3] Leggy Growth

Leggy growth in mint plants is usually caused by a deficiency in nitrogen, iron, and phosphorus, among other nutrients.

In addition, root-bound mint can drive lanky growth, making it difficult to get the nutrients it needs to thrive and grow.

If you don’t repot or transplant your mint, it will likely grow long and leggy with few well-established leaves.

[4] Slow or Stunted Growth

If your mint has stopped growing or its growth has slowed down, it could be because the roots and rhizomes have taken up all the space in the pot.

The same goes for mint with small leaves that don’t spread as usual.

When a plant’s root system can’t take in the nutrients it needs to grow, the plant’s growth is stunted, distorted, or slow.

As a result, the maximum size of your mint plant will be determined by the size of the pot.

[5] Roots Emerging from Drainage Holes

You may already be aware that mint plants have shallow root systems.

But if too many roots and rhizomes exist, they may grow deep and come up through the drainage holes.

You may also notice roots growing from the pot’s surface, edges, or sides.

[6] Leaf Yellowing

Mint with yellowing leaves is usually a sign of nutrient deficiency or moisture imbalance, but sometimes both are present.

For example, if the soil around the rootbound mint is too thin, water and nutrients will run through the pot, causing this symptom to appear.

[7] Other Symptoms

Leaf shedding, scorching, browning, wilting, and curling are all too familiar symptoms of water issues in a rootbound mint.

Other Justifications for Transplanting or Repotting your Mint

As I’ve already said, the most common and essential reason to repot or transplant your mint plant is that its roots are too close together.

After all, it has strong roots that tend to grow too big for the pot it grows in every two to three years.

The root ball of an average-sized mint plant tends to double in size every growing season.

Therefore, regular repotting, dividing, or transplanting should help make room for the roots and rhizomes that are constantly growing.

However, a rootbound mint isn’t the only reason you’ll want to upgrade to a larger container for your plant.

Here are three other reasons why you might want to repot or move a mint plant:

Provide your Mint Plant with New Soil and Nutrients

As a seasoned gardener, I recommend buying mint as young plants early in the growing season.

However, looking closely, you may notice that the nursery used the wrong soil.

Perhaps your plant has already depleted the soil of its nutrients.

If the soil is allowed to become overly compacted, it will lose its ability to retain water.

Your plant’s health and vigor could also be in jeopardy if it contains only a tiny amount of organic material.

The soil can become soggy or waterlogged if you don’t empty the cachepot, overwater your plant, or keep your mint in a low-light location.

In addition, the roots of your mint plant can rot and decay if the soil remains too wet for an extended period.

As you can see, there are various reasons to give your mint plant fresh soil. This is especially true if it’s growing in a container in nutrient-deficient soil.

There is no better way to show your mint some much-needed nutrients than repotting or transplanting.

Replace Its Plastic Pot with a More Attractive One

To be healthy and grow well, mint plants need containers and growing mediums that drain well.

The soil will likely get soggy and flood if you use glazed or plastic containers.

In addition, root rot and other fungal diseases can spread quickly in moist conditions, making mint vulnerable.

Repotting is an excellent way to switch to a mint-friendly pot made of a porous, well-draining material such as terracotta or clay.

Transplanting can also be a good reason to switch out an ugly container for a more visually appealing one.

To Separate Different Mint Varieties

For the most part, home gardeners tend to group several different types of mint in a single container.

From what I’ve seen, you shouldn’t plant different kinds in the same pot or close to each other.

Even when planted in the ground, mint plants can lose their unique taste and smell if many different kinds are grown close to each other.

Repotting or transplanting gives you a second chance to fix your error.

First, remove the root ball from the pot, then divide your mint plants into individual varieties.

Next, put each type of plant in a different pot and use new potting soil.

Mint Transplanting Supplies

It’s time to gather what you’ll need for transplanting your mint, and these typically include:

(1) Pruning Tool

Make sure you have a pair of sterile pruning scissors, shears, or needle-nose pruners on hand (Check the latest price on Amazon here).

A sharp knife will also work. Use bleach or alcohol to clean and disinfect your cutting tool before and after each use.

The pruning tool will be handy when cutting off rhizomes, dead stems, and diseased roots.

(2) Pot with Drainage Holes

The good news is that a mint plant’s root ball does not have to be deep.

Because it’s shallow and not particularly large, you won’t need to transplant it into a significantly larger pot.

As a general rule of thumb, I’d suggest going up to a pot about two inches larger than the previous one.

By US houseplant pot standards, you’re effectively going up a size. Due to its rapid root growth, you may need to repot mint the following year.

Make sure the new pot has at least two decently sized drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

(3) Potting Soil

You should always avoid reusing old potting soil.

Mint plants of almost all sizes and varieties will do well in a general-purpose potting mix (Check the latest price on Amazon here) with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

Good drainage is necessary to prevent root rot.

(4) Other Things You’ll Need

You may also require the following for transplanting your mint plant:

  • A garden spade or trowel
  • Clean gloves
  • Irrigation water
  • Bleach solution for cleaning your tools
  • Mulch 
  • Compost to compliment regular soil (if used)

How Big of A Pot Do I Need?

When choosing a pot for repotting or transplanting your mint plant into:

  • The new container should be at least 2 inches larger than the old one because your plant may require another repotting after a year.
  • If unsure, go up a pot size and make sure it has drainage holes.
  • You’ll need a large pot to fit your mint and an inch or two of base soil.
  • Make sure the root ball and the sides of the pot are separated by about an inch to allow fresh soil to be added.

As a final step, choose a new pot with a root ball at least an inch away from the sides and bottom.

The space should be ample enough for the roots to grow and hold enough water and nutrients.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Transplanting Your Mint

Step #1: Water Your Mint Plant

When transplanting or repotting your mint plant, you want to avoid or minimize damage to the root system and healthy rhizomes.

Even in the middle of spring or summer, it’s critical to keep growth steady.

Transplant shock slows growth, resulting in smaller leaves and a more vulnerable plant to disease and pests.

Watering your plant 1-2 days before transplanting will help prevent this.

If you’re transplanting from the ground, this is especially important.

Watering the plants will help loosen the soil, making it easier to dig them up and examine their roots.

Step #2: Gather Everything You Need

This is a must-do if you’re transplanting your mint all at once.

Everything, from the potting soil to the container to the pruning tools, should be within easy reach when you’re ready to plant.

Get enough containers in advance, especially if you intend to divide your mint.

Step #3: Labeling New Containers

You should label new containers because excellent organization can help things move along more quickly.

Also, you don’t want to lose any mint plants, especially if you have a lot of different kinds.

You can use a permanent marker or a taper to indicate which variety will be placed in the pot.

Step #4: Prep the Work Station

When transplanting mint, things can get a little messy. That’s why I’d do it in the backyard rather than inside.

Lay out a few sheets of newspaper or cardboard on the workstation if this isn’t possible for you.

You may also need to wet the potting soil before you plant. Start with a small water pour and work the medium to ensure uniform moisture distribution.

Continue to add water until the soil is adequately moist but not soggy.

Although it should be able to hold together, it should not feel muddy. Add more soil if it becomes too wet.

Step #5: Prepare the New Container

If your new pot’s drainage holes are larger than half an inch in diameter, you may want to cover each one with a square of screen mesh, a small rock, or even a new coffee filter.

This will help keep the dirt from coming out of the drainage holes.

Fill your new pot halfway with potting soil once that’s done.

Check once more that too much soil isn’t crumbling out of the drainage holes. Clean gloves are the best way to keep your nails clean.

Step #6: Remove Your Mint Plant

I gently slide my mint out of the pot by upturning the pot, tapping the bottom to loosen the root ball, and then gently removing the plant.

If the root ball is extremely dense, you may want to break it up with your hands.

Split the root ball in half, starting at the bottom. If your plant is weak or thin, you shouldn’t do this.

Step #7: Clean Up and Tidy your Plant

Snip off mint leaves browning, dying, or infected with the disease.

Any roots that are soft or mushy and appear dark in color have been affected by root rot and should be treated with extra caution.

You should also remove all of your mint’s dead branches and stems, giving it more room for regeneration.

Step #8: Replant Your Mint

Set your mint in the middle of the new pot, on top of the halfway-filled soil.

Add more soil evenly to the sides of the pot so that the mint stays in the middle.

Next, add potting soil until it reaches the previous container’s planting depth.

Step #9: Press Down the Soil

Gently press down the edges of the potting soil to adjust it.

This will ensure that the soil and the root ball make proper contact. As needed, replenish the soil in the pot.

Step #10: Place the Pot in an Ideal Position

Place the container in a bright area where your mint will receive dappled light.

I prefer eastern exposure, where it will receive 3-4 hours of morning sunlight but will be protected from the scorching afternoon sun.

Tips for Reducing Transplant Shock

  • Reduce the amount of disturbance to the roots.
  • One to two days before transplanting, thoroughly water your mint.
  • Remove as much of your mint plant’s current roots as possible.
  • Throughout the process, keep the root ball moist.