Can Mint Survive Winter? Tips For Overwintering Mint Plants

Can Mint Survive Winter? Tips For Overwintering Mint Plants

The term “mint” typically refers to a group of aromatic herbs in the Mentha genus, which includes various species such as peppermint, spearmint, and others. Whether mint can survive the winter months depends on the specific species, local climate conditions, and how it’s grown. In this article, we’ll review how to overwinter mint both indoors and outdoors, and what varieties of mint are hardiest for winter temperatures.

(Featured Image: Outdoor Mint Garden by A. Ruhoff)

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Can You Overwinter Mint In Containers?

Yes, you can overwinter mint in containers with proper care. Overwintering mint in containers is a great option, especially if you live in an area with harsh winters or if you want to prevent mint from spreading uncontrollably in your garden.

Here are the steps to successfully overwinter mint in containers:

  1. Choose the Right Container: Use a sturdy container with good drainage. A pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter and depth is generally suitable for growing mint. Ensure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the container to prevent waterlogging. We love this elongated herb planter by Amazing Creations for our indoor herb garden (it’s self-watering too!).
  2. Trim the Mint: Before the onset of winter, prune your mint plants back to a few inches above the soil level. This helps reduce the above-ground growth and encourages the plant to focus on its root system.
  3. Mulch: After pruning, add a layer of mulch, such as straw or mulched leaves, to the top of the soil in the container. This helps insulate the root ball and protect it from freezing temperatures.
  4. Move to a Sheltered Location: Find a sheltered spot for your mint containers. Placing them against a south-facing wall or in a protected area can provide some warmth and protection from harsh winds.
  5. Water Sparingly: During the winter months, mint doesn’t require as much water as it does during the growing season. Water sparingly to keep the soil from completely drying out, but avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot.
  6. Monitor for Pests: Check the mint occasionally for signs of pests or fungal disease, as these issues can still occur during the winter. Treat any problems promptly.
  7. Consider Bringing Indoors: If you have a particularly harsh winter with extremely low temperatures, you can bring the mint containers indoors. Place them in a cool, well-lit area, such as a basement or garage, and water sparingly.

In milder climates, mint may continue to grow outdoors in containers throughout the winter with minimal protection. However, in colder regions, these steps will help ensure that your mint plants survive the winter and return with vigor in late spring.

How To Care For Potted Mint Indoors

Caring for potted mint indoors can be quite straightforward, and it allows you to enjoy fresh herbs year-round. Here are some tips on how to care for potted mint in your indoor herb garden:

  1. Choose the Right Pot: Select a well-draining pot that is at least 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.
  2. Potting Mix: Use a high-quality potting mix with good drainage. You can also add some perlite or sand to improve drainage further, and fertilizer for more fertile soil.
  3. Location: Place the mint pot in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight, such as a sunny windowsill. Mint prefers about 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. A south or west-facing window is usually ideal.
  4. Regular Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the mint when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent root rot.
  5. Humidity: Mint appreciates higher humidity levels. You can increase humidity by misting the plant with water or placing a tray of water with pebbles near the plant. This will help mimic its outdoor environment.
  6. Temperature: Mint prefers temperatures between 60-70°F. Avoid placing it in drafts or near heaters or air conditioning vents.
  7. Fertilization: Feed your potted mint with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring through early fall). Reduce or stop fertilizing during the winter when growth slows.
  8. Pruning: Regularly pinch or trim the mint to encourage bushier growth and healthier plants. This not only provides fresh leaves for harvesting but also helps prevent legginess.
  9. Pest and Disease Management: Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. If you notice any issues, address them promptly with appropriate measures, such as washing the leaves with soapy water or using neem oil.
  10. Repotting: For best results, repot mint plants every 2-3 years or when it becomes root-bound. Choose a slightly larger pot when repotting and refresh the soil.

With proper care, potted mint can thrive indoors and provide you with fresh mint leaves for culinary purposes throughout the year. Just be sure to monitor its growth and adjust care as needed to keep it healthy and vigorous.

An indoor herb garden with potted mint sits in a sunny spot during the winter months.

Indoor Herb Garden

Top 5 Organic Fertilizers


Before winter arrives, prune your mint plants back to a few inches above the ground. This reduces the above-ground growth, which can become woody and less vigorous over time, and encourages the plant to focus its energy on its root system.


Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the mint plants. Use organic mulch like straw, dried leaves, or wood chips to insulate the soil and protect the roots from freezing temperatures. Aim for a mulch layer that is about 2-4 inches thick.

Protect From Frost

In regions with occasional frost or light freezes, the mulch layer may be sufficient protection. However, if you experience extended periods of freezing temperatures, consider covering the mint plants with a frost cloth prior to the first frosts. This extra layer can provide additional insulation.

Allow Snow Cover

In areas where snowfall is common, the snow can act as natural insulation. Allow snow to accumulate around the mint plants, as it can protect them from extreme cold.

Monitor Moisture

Ensure that the soil remains moderately moist but not waterlogged during the winter. Overly wet soil can lead to root rot, so be cautious with watering. During extended dry periods in the winter, provide a little water if needed. This is especially important in areas with a warm climate.

Check For Pests

Even in the winter, periodically check for signs of pests or disease. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from becoming more severe in the spring.

Protect From Strong Winds

If your region experiences strong winter winds, consider planting mint in a location that offers some natural wind protection or use windbreaks to shield the plants.

Harvest Sparingly In The Winter Months

f you need to harvest fresh leaves during the winter, do so sparingly and avoid excessive pruning. Allow the plant to continue growing and storing energy for the spring.

Remember that mint is a hardy perennial, and while it may go dormant or die back in the winter, its underground rhizomes usually survive and produce new growth when temperatures warm up in the spring. By taking these steps to protect your mint plants during the winter, you can help ensure a healthy and vigorous return in the growing season.

Which Varieties Of Mint Are Winter Hardy?

Several different varieties of mint are known to be relatively winter hardy and can withstand cold temperatures to varying degrees. Here are some types of mint that are often considered hardy:

  1. Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint is one of the hardiest mint varieties and can tolerate cold winters well. It often goes dormant during the winter months and regrows in the spring from its underground rhizomes.
  2. Spearmint (Mentha spicata): Spearmint is also quite hardy and can survive cold winters, especially when planted in well-draining soil and provided with some protection, such as mulch.
  3. Wintergreen Mint (Gaultheria procumbens): As the name suggests, wintergreen mint is well-suited for winter conditions. It is an evergreen ground cover that retains its leaves throughout the winter.
  4. Chocolate Mint (Mentha piperita ‘Chocolate’): Chocolate mint is a variety of peppermint, and it is often hardy in winter. It has a chocolate-like aroma and flavor.
  5. Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens): Apple mint is considered moderately hardy and can withstand light frost. It’s a good choice for regions with relatively mild winters.
  6. Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii): Corsican mint is a low-growing, creeping variety that can be quite hardy in cold climates, making it a suitable ground cover for rock gardens or between stepping stones.
  7. Ginger Mint (Mentha gracilis): Ginger mint is generally hardy and can survive winter, but it may benefit from some protection or mulch in colder climates.

While these mint varieties are relatively winter hardy, it’s important to note that extreme cold and wet conditions can still stress the plants. Proper care, including mulching and pruning before winter, can help ensure their survival. Additionally, local climate conditions can vary widely, so it’s a good idea to consult with local gardening experts or your local agricultural extension service for advice on growing mint in your specific region.

How Long Does It Take Mint To Regrow In The Spring?

The regrowth of mint typically begins in early spring when the soil and air temperatures start to warm up. In many temperate regions with moderate winters, you can expect to see signs of mint regrowth within a couple of weeks to a month after the last frost date.

As the temperatures consistently rise above freezing, mint plants emerge from their winter dormancy, and new shoots and new leaves begin to appear. The exact timing can vary, but mint is known for its resilience and ability to bounce back quickly in the growing season.

Factors like the specific mint variety, local climate conditions, and how well the mint was protected during the colder months can influence the exact timing of regrowth. In regions with milder winters, mint may start regrowing earlier, while in colder climates, it might take a bit longer.

Expand Your Garden Indoors This Winter

The start of colder temperatures does not need to mean the end of your gardening season! Indoor gardening is great way to exercise your green thumb all year while adding some light and life back into your home during the winter months. Along with your homegrown mint, you can grow a variety of potted plants and other new plants using plastic pots or hydroponic growing methods. To learn more about expanding your indoor garden, check out these comprehensive guides:

A sign for an indoor mint herb garden to continue growing through the winter months.

Herb Garden