Mint is a fragrant, perennial herb grown widely for its extensive applications in both the culinary and medicinal world.
Its fresh greens elevate fruit salads by adding a bit of tanginess. It has its very own ice cream flavor. And it can be added to things as simple as a glass of sparkling water to make it more flavorful.
As herbal medicine, it’s chock full of nutrients that improve one’s health and wellbeing; from relieving indigestion to improving cognitive function to masking bad breath, this plant offers a ton of health perks.
Therefore, it’s one of those plants that should never miss in your garden. But, if you’ve tried growing this versatile herb, then you know it can be a little difficult. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should throw in the towel.
In the following post, we’ll examine the most common reasons why mint plants die. This way, you can take precautionary measures to avoid the same.
Causes of a Mint Plant’s Death
Watering issues- like overwatering, and growing your mint in poor, unamended soil can cause it to fail and die. Similarly, pests, diseases and growing the wrong variety of mint that can’t put up with the climatic conditions in your area, can also wreak havoc on this plant.
1. Wrong Growing Medium
Mint has a bad rep for being a difficult herb to grow. But that’s not entirely true. If you get factors like soil right, then you won’t have to worry about your plant dying.
In that regard, the best medium for this crop is rich, slightly acid soil, preferably with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.0.
Another soil-related aspect you’ll want to think about is drainage, especially if you’re growing your mint in pots or containers. The soil ought to have good drainage and still be able to retain a decent amount of moisture to support good growth.
That said, you’ll want to avoid sandy soil as it will let water run through, making it difficult to keep your mint hydrated. The heavily-compacted clay soil isn’t a good choice either. It causes water to remain still on the surface, meaning it never reaches the root system.
Here are a few tips that can help improve the texture, pH and fertility of mint soil:
- Dress it with organic matter like shredded leaves, grass clippings and plant debris
- Cover with mulch
- Try composting
- Avoid compacting the soil
- Avoid disrupting the soil; this means keeping off from techniques like digging and tilling
Yes, mint thrives in constantly moist soil. However, this doesn’t mean that you should drown it in water.
In fact, a common mistake that gardeners make is to water this plant on a schedule instead of being guided by the moisture level in soil.
To achieve this, you can use a moisture probe. A simpler approach I like to use is to stick one finger in the soil about 1 inch deep. If it feels very dry, then you’ll know it’s time to water. But if the soil is still moist, give it a day or two and check again.
Another thing that I have learned over the years is that the best time to water is in the morning. This way, the mint plant can retain enough moisture before the harsher rays of the sun hit it.
Since mint fares best in full sun, it’s advisable to check its moisture levels in the early or mid-afternoon to determine if it needs another watering session.
3. Growing the Wrong Mint Species
Another thing that can kill your mint plant is planting the wrong variety for the climatic conditions in your area. Some varieties can survive in the cold but others, not so much.
Given that the majority of mint species do well in warmer temperatures, we’ll focus on those that can survive wintry conditions.
Aptly named, this mint species is loved for its fruity fragrance. Mentha suaveolens, as it’s known scientifically, is one of the taller varieties of mint, and it can grow up to three feet tall.
You can identify apple mint through its bright green leaves, which have a unique circular shape with somewhat toothed edges.
Earlier we mentioned that mint prefers slightly moist soil. But the Mentha aquatica, as it’s popularly known, is an exception.
This variety thrives in marshy areas. It means that if the soil in your garden is always too wet, or there happens to be a pond nearby, this is the perfect plant to grow.
Water mint can also grow effortlessly in tubs, but remember to place it in a semi-shaded or sunny spot. The most crucial factor, however, is to ensure the substrate is constantly moist.
If you’re looking for a mint variety that can survive indoors when winter sets in, the Strawberry species is your best bet.
The hardy perennial can be identified through its small-sized green leaves and pinkish-violet flowers that appear in summer.
This plant also produces a fragrant smell, which some liken to that of strawberries. But what you’ll love most about the strawberry mint is its compact size. This makes it suitable for growing in containers or hanging baskets.
4. Pest and Diseases
Pests and diseases are another key reason why your mint plant could be dying. Here’s a rundown of the most common bugs and diseases that can attack your crop.
The specific species that’s known to infest mint is the Two-spotted spider mite. It’s pretty small- about 3 to 4 mm big- making it very difficult to spot with the naked eye.
To make the situation worse, it could be a wide range of colors, including green, greenish-yellow or translucent.
Thus, a better way to identify this spider mite’s infestation is to look for signs on your plant. An infested mint plant tends to have discoloration on its leaves or a thin webbing, fairly similar to a spider’s.
You can get rid of spider mites by spraying a blast of water. Plant-based insecticides like rosemary oil and pyrethrum also work really well against this pest.
Flea beetles are another reason why your mint plant isn’t doing too well.
The good thing with these pests is that they’re quite easy to spot. You’ll see them hopping from one mint leaf to another.
They like to chew tiny holes through leaves; hence, causing severe damage.
The best solution to get rid of flea beetles is through a homemade insecticidal soap. I make mine by mixing two cups of alcohol with five cups of water and a tablespoon of dish soap.
After stirring the mixture thoroughly, transfer to a spray bottle, and spray on the mint leaves.
Spraying mint leaves with neem oil and setting up sticky traps near your plant are other pest-control techniques you can try against the flea beetle.
The cabbage looper is the most common looper species that you’re likely to find on your mint plant. It’s a type of caterpillar that can reach up to 2 inches long. Color-wise, it takes on different shades of green.
Loopers can wreak havoc on your crop as they like to consume the leaves and stems. Luckily, they’re not difficult to eliminate. If the number of caterpillar worms is fairly small, all you need to do is pick them one at a time.
But if you’re dealing with a full-blown infestation, it might be best to introduce a natural predator like the bacillus thuringiensis.
Sure, mint is a fairly hardy plant. But any one of these fast-spreading diseases can bring it down within a couple of weeks or days.
Quick tip: a combination of warm temperatures and very high humidity create a hospitable environment for fungi.
Here are two main diseases common to mint plants:
Mint rust is spread by a fungus known as Puccinia menthae. It’s very common among mint species, although it’s also been known to affect plants, such as savory and marjoram.
Thankfully, it’s one disease that’s quite easy to identify because it presents itself early. The most common sign to watch out for entails shoots that look pale and distorted. The mint stem and leaves may also get covered in dusty orange pimples.
The best way to combat mint rust is to ensure you thin out your plant to facilitate free flow of air. This causes the fungus to dry out without even applying any chemical fungicides.
This is yet another fungal disease that can cause your mint crop to die. It thrives in warm and wet conditions.
The fungus finds its way into the plant through natural openings or wounds that may be present in the root system. It then works its way up to the stem where it obstructs the uptake of nutrients and water.
As a result, the upper sections of your mint slowly start to wilt and ultimately die.
To avoid running into this issue, consider planting a mint variety resistant to the disease from the get-go. Furthermore, keep your plant well fed and watered, and cool the soil with mulch whenever it gets too hot.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mint Plant Dying
How can I revive a dying mint plant?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to identify the particular reason why your plant is dying. If the cause is overwatering, then try to cut back on the frequency and amount of water. If the cause is a bug, identify the bug and employ a suitable pest control technique.
How long does it take to revive a dying mint plant?
This mainly depends on the extent of damage.
If the damage is severe, it might be a while before your mint plant goes back to its healthy self. But if you’re able to nip the problem in the bud, then it won’t take more than a month to revive it.
Can’t figure out why your mint plant keeps dying? We’re here to help. One common culprit is overwatering. Mint prefers soil that is moist, but not to the extent that it becomes waterlogged. To avoid this, always ensure you check the soil’s moisture level before watering.
Bugs like spider mites and loopers; and diseases such as mint rust, are other reasons why your mint plant isn’t doing too well.
The good news is, a dying mint can be revived. You only need to identify the specific issue affecting your plant, and correct it accordingly.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.