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I bought some mint twigs from the supermarket, and I needed only a few leaves. The rest of it was surplus, and I didn't want to throw it away. Knowing that mint is an invasive plant, I assumed it was hard to kill and could reproduce from basically any part of it, so I tried to put the twigs in water to see if they would produce roots. After three days, most of the twigs appear to be dry and dead. A small number of them, however, till have some leaves that appear healthy, so I still have hope. No roots though.

I have two questions:

  1. Is this a possible way to propagate mint?
  2. How do you get mint, considering that the plant does not give seeds? I know that you can look for runners somewhere, but I don't know where, to be honest.
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Most gardeners want to know how not to propagate mint! ;-) (It requires regular attention to keep it from overrunning its neighbors.) –  Ed Staub Nov 23 '11 at 14:20
    
Yeah, tell me about it. A major portion of my compost is spearmint. Shred the roots and put them in a hot pile after baking them between plastic sheets. They're pretty tenacious. –  Fiasco Labs Jun 5 '13 at 3:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Mint is typically propagated, as you correctly say, by runners (or stolons). Stolons are longish horizontal parts of the stem that can either grow along the surface or underground and connect two vertical stems. Here's a picture of a mint stolon from this site

(I'll replace this with pictures from my plant when I get the time).
enter image description here

It's the stolons that have the ability to put out both shoots (upward stems) and roots from the nodes. The upright stems do not have this ability and so if you only have mint stems from the grocery store, they're probably never going to grow roots.

The reason that you saw some of them remain fresh is because the xylem, which is the plant tissue responsible for upward water transport, might've still been alive and hence would've been transporting water to the leaves via capillary action. However, it cannot sustain itself this way, and without a corresponding upward transport from the roots, the capillary pull cannot balance the water loss from transpiration in the leaves and eventually they'll dry. Slowly, but surely.

I've not tried to get a stolon to root in water, however, I wouldn't be surprised if it did, although it's not really a common way of growing it. To propagate it effectively, you need a good section with a bit of root (not necessary though), part of the stolon (a must) and some shoots with leaves (to nourish the plant when it's establishing itself). Although highly uncommon, some varieties are propagated by seed.


Regarding its invasiveness, you can contain mint by growing it in a pot. That way, eventually it will get root bound, which then determines its maximum size. If you plant it on the ground, you better be making lots of mojitos ;)

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Love the mojito, but I miss the weather for the lime :). Thanks for the answer. A really good one. –  Stefano Borini Nov 22 '11 at 23:41

Cut a little stem and pinch off the bottom set of leaves. Then place in a clear glass. Roots should start to form in about 4 days.

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I had friends bring mint,wrapped in plastic, from their garden 1000 miles away just for eating but I stuck the clipping in water to keep them fresh and they rooted. They eventually took over my garden and I had lot of pulling to do. I now plant mint away from my other plants. –  T.Smith Sep 1 '13 at 5:35

What worked from me given a newly-established (less than six month old) plant was:

  • Find an area with new growth (small, new leaves).
  • Cut about an inch of stem from this area.
  • Remove all leaves, except for the top two.
  • Place in a glass of water (without submerging the leaves) for about a week. (You can change the water daily or every other day.)
  • Plant in soil and water daily (but with a small amount of water).

I planted three cuttings like this. One got mysteriously avalanced in clay soil; of the other two, one survived (lots of leaves). The other didn't (leaves got eaten).

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