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How to Propagate Mint: Photo Tutorial

A mint stalk propagated in water grows in a terra pot outdoors.

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According to Healthline, mint helps with the alleviation of gastrointestinal ailments and cold symptoms, and it can also freshen bad breath. And most well-known of all, mint is a delicious addition to various drinks and foods. So wouldn’t it be great to have a ready supply right at home? You can!

Mint is a vigorous grower, making it one of the easiest herbs to propagate from cuttings. A stem cutting taken from a healthy plant will produce roots either in water or soil in as little as a week, and you all need are sharp scissors, a sunny window, water, soil and a pot.

In this article, you’ll learn how to propagate mint using two different methods:

  1. In water
  2. In soil

I did the process myself and took plenty of photos so you can follow along. We’ll also talk about the answers to some common questions and what to do if the propagation doesn’t go quite according to plan.

So let’s get started!

Is Mint Easy to Propagate?

Propagating mint is easy as long as you do it properly. There are three main things to keep in mind for the greatest success:

  1. Growing season: If possible, take your mint cuttings in late spring or early summer when the plant is in full growth but before it starts blooming. I took my cuttings for this article in July, and you’ll see how they did for me.
  2. Equipment: Make sure to use pruning shears or a sharp pair of scissors. Also, have your jar of water or pot with prepared soil ready as mint cuttings will wilt quickly. We’ll talk about each one of these supplies in more detail a little later on.
  3. Healthy plants: Check your mint plants for any disease or pests. Strong parent plants equal healthy cuttings, so select the very best plants you can.

Supplies for Propagating Mint

First of all, decide which rooting method (water or soil) you want to use and collect your supplies.

Rooting Mint Cuttings in Water

  • A clear jar or vase that’s large enough to accommodate your mint cutting with the top leaves just resting on the rim.
  • Clean, sharp scissors or pruners.
  • Filtered water, enough to submerge the lower 3-4 inches of the cutting.
  • A sunny window or indoor grow light.
  • A small pot or outdoor area for planting your rooted cutting.
  • Potting soil, if you’re planting your rooted cutting in a container.

Rooting Mint Cuttings in Soil

  • A pot with at least one drainage hole.
  • Organic potting soil.
  • Clean, sharp scissors or pruners.
  • Filtered water for keeping your soil moist.
  • A sunny window or indoor grow light.
  • A larger pot or outdoor planting site for your rooted cuttings.

How to Take a Good Mint Cutting

Like we mentioned before, the stronger the parent plant, the better the chances of your success with your cuttings. So be sure to thoroughly check your mint plant for any disease or pests to ensure healthy cuttings. 

Before you make any cuts, clean your pruner or scissor blades with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. This reduces the chance of infecting your cutting with unfriendly microbes.

Select a stem on the parent plant that’s about 4 to 7 inches long to take for a cutting.

Count down four to five sets of leaves from the top of the stem, and make a diagonal cut 1/2 inch to 1 inch below the lowest pair of leaves. The diagonal cut gives your cutting more surface area to absorb water.

Here’s my fresh cutting:

A healthy mint stem cutting with four sets of mature leaves.

Now, remove the lower two sets of leaves, as close to the stem as you can without actually nicking or damaging the stem. This leaves you with exposed nodes, which is where the leaves grow out from the stem. And these nodes are also where your brand-new roots will emerge from.

Your prepared cutting should look something like this:

A fresh mint cutting with the leaves removed from the lowest two nodes, ready for propagation in water or soil.

Here’s the same photo as above, zoomed in so you can get a better look at the nodes:

A closeup of a mint cutting with two node locations marked with arrows.

And there you have it: A mint cutting that’s ready for rooting in water or soil! Let’s move on to those techniques next.

Method 1: Rooting Mint Cuttings in Water

This is by far my favorite way to propagate mint cuttings. My cutting looked healthy the whole time, and it put out roots super fast. Also, I loved being able to easily keep tabs on the root growth (my kids liked it too!).

So the water method definitely has my hearty recommendation.

Place your cutting into the jar/glass, and fill with enough water to completely submerge both the exposed nodes.

A mint cutting placed in a clear jar of water to root.

Now set your cutting in a bright window or under a grow light for at least 6 hours a day. If the water becomes cloudy, just pour it out and replace with fresh water.

It can take up to a week to see new roots growing. Five days after taking my cutting, this is what I saw emerging from a node:

Tiny roots emerging from the mint cutting after five days of rooting in water.

After another three days, the roots had grown a lot, and other new roots started growing from the other nodes as well:

A mint cutting rooted in water with long roots extending from five node areas.

Once the roots are at least 1 inch long, you’re ready to transfer your rooted cutting into it’s permanent home!

Or if you’d prefer, you can also just leave your cutting in water long-term. If this is the route you choose to go, plan to change the water out every few days and add water-soluble plant food a couple of times per month. The Andersons brand makes a good one.

I planted my rooted cutting in a pot of soil so I could move it outdoors. Let’s move on to that process…

Transplanting Your Rooted Cutting

To start, fill your pot with a couple of inches of dampened potting soil. I used the Master’s Gold soil from Bumper Crop. It’s available on Amazon, and I picked up a smaller bag of it at my local garden center.

Next, set your cutting in the soil, settling the end of the stem into soil so the lowest roots rest on the soil surface. Like this:

Settling a mint cutting rooted in water in a pot of dampened potting soil.

Then gently add a few scoops of soil around your cutting, until the topmost roots are covered by at least 1/2 inch of soil.

This is what it looked like when I got done:

A mint cutting successfully rooted in water and planted in a pot.

You’ll notice that my cutting actually produced new growth during the week it was in water. I started out with two sets of mature leaves and one baby pair, and now there are three sets of mature leaves with two new baby pairs.

Method 2: Rooting Mint Cuttings in Soil

Before taking your mint cutting, fill your pot with potting soil and moisten it slightly. Then take your cutting and prepare it according to the directions above, and stick it in the soil about 1 to 2 inches deep.

Next, gently pinch the soil around your cutting to help it stand upright, like I did here:

Pinching the soil gently around a mint cutting to hep it stand upright.

My cutting wanted to lean over in the soil a bit, so I pinched off a set of tiny baby leaves to reduce top-heaviness. That seemed to help quite a bit.

Here’s the cutting in the pot right after planting:

A mint cutting placed in a pot of moist potting soil to root.

It looked a little wilted that first day, so I gave it a bit more water to help it along.

Now place your cutting in a bright window or under a grow light for at least 6 hours a day.

Your main task going forward now centers on maintaining a proper moisture balance while the roots grow.

You want to keep your soil nice and moist, so your cutting can absorb water and stay hydrated. But make sure to avoid over-watering; this could lead to your cutting just rotting away instead of producing new roots.

Check the soil moisture daily, and add only as much water as the soil can absorb in a couple of seconds. Remember: Moist, not saturated!

Here’s my cutting five days later:

A mint cutting in soil after five days.

It’s hanging in there, but it’s definitely not looking as healthy as the cutting in water did.

Remember: At five days, the cutting in water was already putting out baby roots. I gently pulled on this cutting in soil, and I’m feeling some resistance. So I’m hoping that means that some roots are starting to emerge.

You should start to see new growth after about one or two weeks, and you can either leave it in the pot indoor or outdoors or transplant to an in-ground garden. 

What to Do if Your Mint Cuttings Run Into Trouble

Now that we’ve covered how to grow mint from cuttings, there are a few potential problems to watch out for:

Mint Cuttings Wilting

If you find your mint cuttings wilting, they may not be getting the right amount of water or sunlight, or they may be suffering from a bit of shock.

  • Water: Check to see if the soil is too wet or too dry (most common cause).  Alter your watering schedule and ensure proper drainage.
  • Sunlight: Mint likes full sun and partial shade, but too much shade will cause it to wilt. Remember, that could be big reason why my store-bought mint cutting didn’t work out for me. Make sure your mint cuttings are getting enough sun, like a sheltered south-facing window or a grow light.
  • Shock: Transplant shock occurs when moving mint cuttings from one media to another (like from water to soil). Give them time and plenty of water to overcome transplant shock.

Lack of Root Development

If you’re trying the soil rooting method, your mint cuttings may not be getting enough water, so check the soil moisture first. In cases of low moisture, you’ll probably see other signs of distress too, like wilting or brown spots.

If the soil does feel dry, water it more frequently to keep it moist.

If you’re rooting in water or your soil feels fine, you can try making a sharper diagonal cut to the tip of the stem so your cutting can get more water.

For soil rooting, you could also dip the end of the stem in a powdered rooting hormone to help stimulate growth. It’s not usually needed for mint, but it might be boost your cutting needs. Bonide makes a good formula.

If all your efforts fail, you simply may not have a healthy cutting.

With a fresh cutting, I would recommend giving it a maximum of 10 days before giving up. At this point, toss the cutting and try again, using fresh water or potting soil.

Remember, though: If you’re working with a store-bought cutting, it may take longer. In this case, don’t give up until it’s been about two weeks, unless your leaves start browning a lot like mine did.

Bad Smell

Yuck, right? A bad odor typically occurs from microbial overgrowth.

If you’re rooting in water, you’ll likely also see cloudiness and possibly a film on the water surface. You don’t want to take any chances with this, so discard your cutting and the water, sanitize your jar/glass and try again with a fresh cutting.

With the soil rooting method, a smell is usually due to a problem with the soil itself. Make sure you’re not watering too much and the pot has proper drainage, and consider transplanting the cutting into fresh soil.

If the smell persists, throw out both the soil and cutting and sanitize your pot. Iowa State University Extension Office has some great tips for disinfecting planters. Then try again with a new cutting and clean soil.

Frequently Asked Questions about Propagating Mint

You can sure try! But keep in mind that store-bought mint has been separated from the parent plant for quite some time, and therefore has been cut off from nourishment and life. So your chances of a successful propagation aren’t as good as those with fresh cuttings.

You’ll stand the best chances of propagating your store-bought mint cuttings using the water-rooting method.

No, mint leaves don’t have the nodes necessary to develop roots. Save those leaves for your favorite recipes!

Once it’s rooted, mint grows very well in water, but much better in soil. In fact, most mint plant species are considered invasive and will take over a garden if not pruned regularly! 

If it has stems and leaves and is at least 7 inches long, you can use it for propagation from cuttings.

Final Thoughts

Mint is a super easy plant to propagate (especially in water) and once it’s rooted, you’ll find it grows quite quickly and can even take over your garden! 

Whether you choose to grow mint indoors or outdoors, you’ll find it’s easy to care for, is quite useful, and brings a lovely fragrance to your home or garden.

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About Erinn Witz

Hi! I’m Erinn, a Midwestern gal who’s just as interested in honing my gardening skills as you are. I’m here to show you that if I can do this growing thing, seriously, YOU can too! 

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