Gardeners consider almost all varieties of mint today as fast-growing plants.
Their growth rate makes the process of harvesting more flexible and easier for the gardener.
I’ve been growing and harvesting mint for years. I’ve never failed miserably with this herb. I’ve made some mistakes, but with research and practice, I overcame them.
Knowing when to harvest mint is the trickiest part of growing this herb. You should consider several factors before choosing the right time to cut your mint.
Let’s analyze each one of these principles right now!
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How To Know When To Harvest Mint
Here’s what you should think about when deciding to harvest your mint:
There’s a substantial difference between heavy and gentle harvesting.
You can always pinch off a few leaves from your mint now and then. You should season and garnish your dishes or prepare a cup of tea. That’s what I call “gentle” harvesting.
But cutting one-half or one-third of your mint will disrupt your plant’s stability. If the herb isn’t ready for that, it will be permanently “shocked.”
In this article, I will focus on heavy harvesting. The principles discussed will help you decide when to harvest your mint in significant amounts.
Here is the first thing gardeners should consider when cutting. It is crucial to determine the amount your plant has grown when picking the right time to harvest our herbs.
Most experts say your mint should be at least 3″ (7.6 cm) tall when you harvest it. If your mint is smaller than that and you cut it back heavily, it may not be able to grow again.
Mint tastes better in that stage because it wouldn’t have blossomed yet.
As leafy herbs grow tall and start to develop flowering buds, their foliage and stems stiffen. At that point, they become less flavorful and sometimes more bitter.
Note: Not all mint branches grow upright. Some may grow in a crooked manner. Remember that when you’re measuring the length of your plants.
How often can you harvest mint per season? From my experience, you can harvest this plant in bulk at least three or four times per season.
If you’re growing mint under unregulated conditions, such as on a balcony, there is an addition.
You should harvest the plant for the last time six weeks before the first expected frost. (Check the weather in your area to know more about that.)
If your mint is growing under artificial light and regulated temperature, its age and the change in seasons shouldn’t matter that much anymore. In such a situation, you can grow and harvest your mint plants year-round.
Many herb growers don’t realize the significance of their plants’ age in this equation.
Since mint is a perennial plant, which means it lives for more than one year, its age indicates its strength and endurance.
As your mint ages, it becomes more tolerant toward heavy harvesting. This is because it develops more advanced systems underground.
When you cut back your mint, all the “food” that should go to its roots will be gone. That may be troubling for the plant when its roots are still young.
If your mint is growing in its first season, it may not endure severe harvesting many times per season. It will fail to go dormant in winter.
Connecting The Dots: When To Harvest Mint
It’s time to look at the complete picture and put everything together.
Imagine you have a mint plant growing in your garden, which appears to be fully matured. You are afraid it might lose its flavor, so you want to cut, use, and perhaps dry its leaves.
It would be best if you first thought about how you are growing your mint.
Let’s assume you’re growing it on a balcony. If you’re using artificial light and controlling temperature, you can cut it right away if it’s tall enough.
Next, is it late in the season? You shouldn’t harvest it heavily if it’s no more than six weeks before the first expected frost. Instead, you can pinch off a few leaves as needed.
If your mint still has time, you should determine its age.
- If this is its first season growing, you need to ensure this is the first or second time you harvest it.
- In case it’s older, it doesn’t matter if this is the first or fifth time you’re harvesting it.
Finally, how tall is your plant? If it has reached about 4″ of growth, you can harvest it by cutting half of each stem.
It’s pretty simple, so don’t be confused and just move gradually from one point to another.
Remember that this is a flexible activity. So, even if you do make a few mistakes here and there, your mint would likely still be able to survive.
Unlike many other herbs, mint is very resilient because of the vast number of roots that it develops.
Important Tips You Should Keep in Mind
- When you want to pinch off leaves from your mint, always take the ones growing at the top. They will be more flavorful and softer than those growing at the bottom.
Doing this also makes it easier for the plant to produce new growth.
- Always cut your mint just above the node on which leaves are growing. This is extremely important because it stimulates new growth to appear faster. Plants grow their leaves and stem from “buds” located beneath each set of leaves.
- Never use your hands to harvest your mint. Always use high-quality shears. If your scissors aren’t as sharp as they should be, they might create unwanted tears. That will invite infections to devour the plant from the inside.
- Harvest your mint plants in the morning when the leaves are no longer wet because of dew. This makes the process of drying them easier.
- Don’t rinse your mint after you harvest it because mold will likely spread over the leaves. Instead, rinse the plant a day before harvesting so that it would have some time to dry off.
- Don’t let your mint to fully flower, or it won’t continue producing new growth for you. Always try to harvest it when flowering buds start to appear.
- Finally, you can use some of the stems you cut from your mint to grow in your garden. Propagating mint from cuttings is the most reliable method of growing this herb. Check this article “- ” to know more about it.
Now you’re good to go! Don’t forget to tell us about your thoughts and experience with harvesting mint in the comments below!