Choosing the right pot for your mint plant is important because it has a massive effect on how fast the plant grows, how big it gets, and how productive it will be. I have written this article to help you find the pot that gives your mint plant the best conditions.
Here is a brief summary of the main points of this article:
Mint grows best in terra cotta pots that are 12 inches (30 cm) or larger and have drainage holes. Young or small mint plants don’t need that much space at all, but because mint plants grow and spread rapidly, it is best to use a large pot from the beginning to avoid having to transplant early.
Even though mint technically grows better in a big pot, there are many situations where a small pot is a better choice.
In this article, I give some examples of when it is best to use a big pot and when it is best to use a small pot, so you can decide which is best in your specific situation. I also explain how pot size and material affect the growth of your mint plant and give recommendations for which pot size and material you should use in different situations.
Best Size Pot for Growing Mint
There is no such thing as “the best pot size” for growing mint because it depends on your situation and needs. Let me help you figure out what size pot you should use based on your needs.
If you want to grow the biggest and most productive mint plant you can, you should use a very large pot (12 inches / 30 cm or more) with lots of room for the roots to grow, because in the end, the most important factor for how well a mint plant grows is how well the roots are doing.
If you don’t have a very large pot or you don’t have room for it, don’t worry. You can basically use pots of any size for growing mint, but the smaller the pot is, the smaller and less productive the plant will be.
As you can see in the photo above, I am growing mint in very differently sized pots (I have peppermint seeds germinating for the biggest pot as I am writing this), and all of them grow very nicely, but the plants in the bigger pots generally grow faster.
I chose small pots for some of my mint plants simply because they fit well next to the window where I usually keep them. Keep factors like this in mind when you pick a pot for your mint. If you, like me, have a place where a small pot would fit well, just use a small pot but know that the plant won’t get super big.
Below, I have some examples of different situations where different pot sizes work best.
Best size pot for the biggest and most productive mint
To grow the biggest and most productive mint plants, use a pot that is 12 inches (30 cm) or larger. Mint spreads rapidly, so using a big pot allows it to grow at its full capacity.
Mint plants are notorious for taking over gardens as they more or less just keep growing and spreading as long as they have room. This is why most people (myself included) don’t recommend planting mint in the ground, but instead use a big pot.
Best size pot for growing mint indoors
As a general rule, the best size pot for growing mint indoors is 8 inches (20 cm), however, it depends on your situation. For example, if you have room for a big plant, you can use a bigger pot, and if you only have room for a small plant, use a smaller pot.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, mint can technically grow in pots of any size, but the smaller the pot is, the smaller the plant will be. That shouldn’t stop you from growing mint in a smaller pot if that’s what you have or have room for, though! For example, I have mint in pots of very different sizes, but the smallest one is only 5 inches (12.5 cm) because that is what I had room for where I wanted to put it.
Best size pot for mint seedlings
Start mint seeds in small, biodegradable seedling pots filled with a soil mix for seedlings. After that, fill a large pot with good, nutrient-rich potting soil, remove the bottom from the biodegradable pots and place them in the big pot and fill it with soil around the small pots.
Many people use small seedling pots that are not biodegradable, but if you do that, you have to transplant the seedlings once they get too large for the small pot.
If you use biodegradable pots, you don’t have to transplant your seedlings but can instead just plant them in a bigger pot while they are still in the small, biodegradable pots since they dissolve and mix with the soil, allowing your plants to spread and utilize the whole pot. It can be a good idea to remove the bottom of the biodegradable pot to make it easier for the roots, though.
If you do this, it is a good idea to let the seedlings start out in some mild soil mix (too nutrient-rich soil can be too intense for them), and when they get larger, their roots reach out through the bottom of the biodegradable pot, which will also dissolve over time, allowing the plant to reach the nutrient-rich potting soil.
Before you can really decide what size pot you want to grow your mint in, you should know how the size of the pot affects the growth of the plant, so keep reading as I explain that now.
How Pot Size Affects Growth in Mint
The size of the pot has a big effect on the growth of the plant, and that goes extra for mint because it spreads rapidly through horizontal runners. Therefore, you should know what effect using a big or a small pot will have on your mint plant.
If you grow mint in a small pot, the plant’s roots will eventually fill up the pot, which results in inhibited plant growth.
This is essentially the reason why people (myself included) generally recommend using a big pot for growing mint.
When I was doing research for this article, I found a great paper from The American Society for Horticulture Science. In it, I found the perfect quote that explains exactly why a small pot is usually not the right choice.
“When roots are confined in a container that restricts their growth, the roots compete for essential resources. Increased root mass and decreased rooting space leads to competition for available oxygen.”“The Effects of Container Size” – D. Scott NeSmith and John R. Duval (source)
They continue by describing how the growth of new shoots is also greatly restricted by the size of the container, which makes sense, seeing there isn’t enough oxygen to support the plant in a small container once the roots fill it up.
So to summarize; just use a big pot from the beginning and save yourself from a headache in the future. Unless you specifically don’t want your plant to get too big. In that case, you should use a small pot.
I have written another article where I go into much more detail about why plants need enough space and what happens if they don’t have it. If you are interested in that, you can find the article on this link.
As I have covered now, the size of the pot is very important when growing mint, but so is the material. Below, I explain which pot material is best when growing mint and how the material of the pot affects the growth of the plant.
Best Material for Pot for Growing Mint
When you choose a pot for growing mint and other herbs, the material is very important, primarily because it has a big effect on drainage and, as a result of that, on the health of the roots.
The best material for a pot for growing herbs is terra cotta or unglazed clay, as it allows excess moisture from the soil to leave the pot through the material, which creates a better environment for the roots.
I love terra cotta pots and use them for literally everything that I don’t have growing directly in the ground or in my greenhouse, but there is one (potential) issue with them. They don’t tolerate frost very well.
I found a paper by Clark County Master Gardeners from Washington State University’s Clark County Extension that addresses the issue that terra cotta pots don’t tolerate frost very well. In the paper, I found this great quote:
Terra cotta, concrete, and ceramic containers generally do not tolerate winter ravages well. Terra cotta and concrete pots must be at least 1½-2 inches thich to prevent them from cracking when subjected to freezing.“Garden Mastery Tips” – Clark County Master Gardeners, Washington State University’s Clark County Extenson (source)
The easiest way to prevent the pots from cracking is, of course, to just bring them inside in the winter, but I recommend reading the paper as it also presents some additional ways to help your terra cotta pots through the winter.
Of course, there are other materials than terra cotta that will work for growing mint. To be honest, almost anything will work to some extent, but the reason why terra cotta is so good is that other than being a robust and heavy material, it allows moisture to escape easily through the sides of the pot.
Most other materials, such as plastic or glazed clay, do not allow moisture to escape this way, so with those, you rely on the drainage hole(s) at the bottom of the pot. I will get into this now because no matter what material pot you use for growing mint, it should always have one or more drainage holes at the bottom.
How Drainage Affects Growth in Mint
As a general rule, there should always be one or more drainage holes at the bottom of the pot you are growing herbs or vegetables in. This is to allow water to run through and not stay inside the pot as that will damage the roots over time.
If there are no drainage holes in the pot you grow your mint in, your plant is very likely to become overwatered as any excess water that your plant cannot use won’t be able to escape and will stay inside the pot and surround the roots.
If your mint plant stays overwatered for too long, it will die as the excess water causes the roots to rot over time. Overwatering is not always easy to identify as the initial damage happens to the roots, but I have written another post where I cover the signs to look out for if you suspect you may be overwatering your mint, so head over to it (here) if that is relevant for you.