How to Harvest Mint

There is nothing quite like cooking with fresh mint from your very own garden. The taste is incredible, the smell is strong, and you don’t have to worry about unwanted chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Mint can be used for a whole host of things from making herbal tea to flavoring your Sunday dinner, creating natural mint oil, to a refreshing pesto. It’s no wonder so many people choose to grow this herb in their garden.

Growing mint is incredibly easy due to its overpowering nature of expanding everywhere. How to harvest mint is even easier, so long as you harvest the right leaves, amount, and at the right time.

Keep on reading to find out how to harvest your mint and keep your plant alive to continue harvesting from the same plant for many years to come.

harvest mint

When is The Best Time for Harvesting Mint?

Mint is one of those perennial plants that are easy to grow and even easier to harvest. As soon as the plant has developed large enough leaves, you can begin harvesting.

At first, ensure to only harvest a handful at a time. This allows the mint to recover and continue producing new leaves.

However, for a larger harvest, it is best to wait until the plant has produced flowers. Your mint is well established by then with more developed leaves. It is also at this point of growth that your mint leaves achieve their fullest flavor, leading to tastier meals and tea for you.

How to Harvest Mint?

Although it seems quite simply a case of pulling leaves from your mint plant as and when you please, there is a little more to consider to ensure your mint harvest is sustainable.

Something first to be aware of is that mint is a perennial plant, so it will regrow every year. However, it can also be incredibly invasive. It is important to grow your mint in an area that offers enough space or consider planting your mint in a pot to contain its growth.

Once your mint has been planted in early spring, you can begin harvesting from May till around October. After Autumn, the shoots will begin to die back with the plant preparing for winter and becomes dormant until the following spring.

Mint plants only take 90 days to reach maturity. So, when you want to pick some leaves, you can harvest mint with your fingers or a sharp knife. Select a couple of leaves and pull from the base of each leaf.

freshly harvested mint

For larger harvests or for storing mint during the winter months, you can cut the majority of your mint plant without it dying.

Cut the stems around 5 inches from the base of your plant, ensuring to leave stems with two sets of leaves. This will ensure your plant can produce new growth.

The more mint you harvest, the more growth you will stimulate. Each stem cut can produce an average growth of two new stems.

If you are considering harvesting a large amount of mint to store for the winter, try to harvest your leaves after the plant has flowered and first thing in the morning. With a large harvest, you can store your mint dry or frozen.

For drying, hang the leaves upside down to dry and then store them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can chop your fresh leaves, place them in ice trays, add water, and freeze them to be used at a later date.

When mint is in flower, its leaves are at their best flavor. This is also the case for harvesting in the morning. Leaves contain the highest concentration of essential oils in the morning, so will have a stronger flavor than those harvested throughout the day.

Before winter, you may notice the leaves on your mint plant discolor and turn yellow, and a fainter smell. If your mint looks like this, it is past its peak for the year and you’ll need to wait till the following summer to begin harvesting again.

Ensure to not harvest your mint plant as this could kill your plant completely. Leave the bottom stems at the base of the plant with at least 2 leaves on each stem. By leaving some leaves, you help encourage new growth as your mint plant will be focusing on replacing the leaves that were cut.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pick mint leaves so it keeps growing?

You can pick leaves by hand or cut at the base of each leaf for a small harvest and your plant will continue to grow. Alternatively, for a larger harvest, use a sharp knife to cut stems ensuring to leave the base stems with 2 leaves minimum on each stem. This will keep your plant alive and encourage new growth.

How do I know when my mint is ready to pick?

On average, mint plants take 90 days to mature before they can be harvested. The leaves will have uncurled, will be deep green, and have a strong scent. At this point, your mint leaves are ready to be harvested.

Does mint regrow after cutting?

Mint will regrow once harvested so long as you leave the base stems with a minimum of two leaves on each stem.

Do you pick mint leaves from the top or bottom?

Mint leaves are best picked from the top as this will stimulate new growth. For sweeter leaves, select the newer, smaller leaves.

Does mint grow back every year?

Yes, it does. Mint is a perennial plant and will regrow every year. If your mint plant is discolored, it may have succumbed to disease and will need treatment using organic methods. Similarly, if you have discovered pests, they will also need removing and organic treatment using.

If you over-harvest your mint, it may be that your plant cannot recover. At this point, you would need to remove your mint plant and plant fresh seeds the following spring.

For more support on growing and harvesting herbs at home, take a look at these posts: