Love a good peppermint tea? Me too!
Did you know that you can grow mint inside and reap the benefits of this great herb all year round?
There are many benefits to growing mint indoors that you may not have thought of and that may just sell you on the idea of having an edible houseplant on your coffee table.
Read on to find out the health benefits of mint, why you should grow it inside and how to get started.
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- Health Benefits of Mint
- Why You Should Grow Mint Inside
- Grow Lights as the Secret to Indoor Herbs
- Other Tips for Growing Mint Indoors
Health Benefits of Mint
The health benefits of mint are many and varied.
Firstly, there are many different varieties of mint. Two of the most common are spearmint and peppermint.
Peppermint contains much higher menthol levels which lend it the characteristic fresh, mouth-tingling sensation along with other cooling and anti-inflammatory uses.
However, generally speaking, all mint cultivars have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Here are some of the health benefits of mint that you may not have realized:
Peppermint can help sooth skin conditions such as acne and eczema due to its menthol component.
Peppermint essential oil also has antiseptic properties which when diluted, can be helpful for managing the bacteria that cause pimples.
The antimicrobial properties of mint can help to manage the bacteria in your mouth that lead to bad breath and gum disease.
This is the reason that many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes and chewing gum contain mint. A pleasant side-effect is also the masking of bad breath.
Chew on a fresh mint leaf for an immediate and natural breath freshener.
Peppermint’s menthol content is an effective decongestant making it a powerful ally when you have a head cold or the flu clearing your airways and relieving congestion.
Make an infusion of fresh mint leaves in boiling water and breath the hot mint-infused steam next time you’re all stuffy.
The aroma of mint can be helpful in relieving feelings of nausea, naturally, before turning to anti-nausea medication.
Peppermint oil is considered safe to use in pregnancy in small quantities, so infusing the oil in your home can be a helpful remedy for morning sickness in pregnant women.
Mood and Concentration Boost
Similarly, the aroma of mint is thought to have benefits for mood and concentration. Mint is thought of as an invigorating smell that can help you to feel energized and avoid turning to that millionth cup of coffee.
Peppermint has a relaxation effect on muscles in the digestive system which can aid in relieving IBS symptoms and GI discomfort stemming from muscle cramping. Similarly, it can help you to feel relaxed and refreshed when used in certain ways.
Try sprinkling some fresh, crushed mint leaves in your bath water the next time you want to de-stress.
Mint has been found to have anti-tumor properties which may aid in the prevention of cancer when included as part of a healthy diet.
Though it’s unclear how strong the effect is in humans, studies on animals have shown a strong correlation.
Mint has effective anti-viral properties which when inhaled or ingested as part of a tea, could help to relieve the symptoms of the common cold and influenza.
Can be Used for Household cleaning
Just as you should be cautious about the potentially toxic ingredients in skincare products, more people are realizing the benefits of being cautious about common household cleaners as well.
Making your own cleaning solution for spraying and wiping surfaces and mopping floors can be as simple as adding a cup of vinegar and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to a cup of warm water.
Why You Should Grow Mint Inside
There are multiple benefits to growing mint indoors instead of in your garden.
Having a healthy mint plant thriving on your kitchen window ledge means:
- You get to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of greening up your home. Studies have shown that having plants inside your home and workspace can help to improve mood, concentration, productivity and reduce stress.
- You get to enjoy the aroma of mint which in itself can improve mood and energy levels.
- Having easy access to the plant, and being reminded of its existence by regularly seeing it in your day-to-day life, means that you’re more likely to use it, and consequently enjoy more if its health benefits, more often.
- Mint is highly invasive and will happily take over your herb garden. Having it contained inside in a pot will prevent this and give your other herbs a fighting chance.
- Mint naturally goes dormant in the winter, especially if you live somewhere that experiences frosts. But if it gets enough light inside, you may be able to keep it healthy through the winter months and experience fresh mint all year round.
How to Get Started
So you’re sold on the idea of having an edible houseplant with more benefits than simply aesthetic?
The next step is to find an appropriate plant. Depending on the time of year, going to your local garden store is probably your best bet. You should be able to buy small mint plants easily in spring and summer.
During fall and winter, you may have to take matters into your own hands. It’s likely the garden store won’t be stocking small mint plants, and since growing mint from seed is pretty tough, you’ll be wanting to dig up a section of an existing plant in your garden (or a friend’s), or start a new plant from a cutting.
Digging up part of a plant is a quicker route to having an established plant in your house that you can take leaves from. Provided you have some healthy leaves and roots, the mint should do the rest!
Pack it into a plastic pot with peat-free potting mix, water deeply, and then place in a well-lit position inside your home.
If you’re using a cutting, place the cutting in a jar of water in a well-lit place until it has a good number of roots that are at least a few inches long.
The Well-lit Part is Really Important
Actually, the main factor in determining your success in growing mint inside will be how much light it gets.
In the warmer months when the sun is stronger, you’ll want to place your plant somewhere where it will get plenty of indirect light – this means not too much sun shining directly on its leaves as this can lead to sunburn.
However, as daylight hours are short in the winter, depending on where you live, all the direct sunlight you can provide will probably not be enough and you will likely need to supplement natural light with artificial light to keep your mint plant healthy and prevent it from growing leggy.
This is where grow lights come in.
Grow Lights as the Secret to Indoor Herbs
Grow lights are full-spectrum LEDs that aim to match the range of light waves provided by the sun.
They don’t need to be on all of the time and most LEDs are super-efficient so shouldn’t add much to your power bill, but they’ll make all the difference to your green-leaved friends.
Have You Considered Hydroponics?
It’s a long, complicated word, but growing hydroponically basically just means growing in water or without soil.
Growing hydroponically is ideal for indoors as it’s more space-efficient and much cleaner. The results are often more consistent and reliable as you can control more variables, and you don’t have to worry about pests (provided your plants aren’t near an open window all day long – yes aphids can fly through windows).
Mint grows really well hydroponically so if you’re new to the system and a bit nervous, getting started with mint is probably a great way to grow your confidence!
Read more about the different hydroponic systems here.
Other Tips for Growing Mint Indoors
We’ve already mentioned how invasive mint can be when left to its own devices outside in your garden. Well, the mechanism for its spread is important to understand when it comes to keeping your indoor pot of mint healthy.
Mint spreads through shooting off horizontal rhizomes underground, from which new plants pop up above ground. Your indoor potted mint plant will try to do the same thing and likely become root-bound and unhappy in its pot fairly quickly.
In order to keep it happy, repot your mint plant and divide it up once per year. This means pulling apart the root ball and repotting half of it back in the same pot with some fresh soil, and putting the other half in another pot and giving it to a friend.
Consider a Grow Cabinet
If you live somewhere where indoor temperatures are not always ideal for keeping your plants healthy, or you’d like your hydroponic set up to be somewhere unheated like your garage, then you could consider using a grow cabinet instead.
Grow cabinets act like mini-greenhouses and can maintain ideal temperature, lighting, and humidity for optimal plant growth.
Mint is Thirsty
You know how the secret to happy houseplants is not too much water, and that most people over-water? Well, the opposite is true for mint. Mint is a thirsty herb so it will need more water than a regular houseplant.
For the same reason, you should avoid planting your mint in a terracotta pot that will absorb water, stealing it away from the roots.
So, there you have it. There are so many benefits to growing mint indoors, both practical and health benefits. And, it’s easy to do.
The tips above should help you get started and you’ll be enjoying a daily cup of fresh mint tea in no time!
Do you grow any herbs inside? Are you sold on getting started with mint? Let us know!