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One of the most common problems people experience when growing mint is that they overwater their plants.
It can be tricky to tell if a mint plant is overwatered, so in this post, I explain how you can tell and what you need to do if your mint is overwatered.
The first sign of being overwatered mint plants show is that they begin to wilt or droop. Shortly after that, leaves start to turn yellow and then brown and dry. Another sign of overwatering is that the soil doesn’t dry out and stays mushy for several days after watering.
Since the initial damage from overwatering happens to the roots, it can be difficult to see early, and the longer it takes before you take care of it, the more damage it can do. Luckily, I have some great tips for you.
Below, I explain what you can look out for in regards to overwatering mint, so you can identify it and take care of it before it is too late. I also explain some great tips I have used in the past with great success to save overwatered herbs.
6 Signs That a Mint Plant Has Been Overwatered
Mint becomes overwatered when it gets more water than it can utilize for a prolonged period of time. It happens because there is more water around the roots than they can obtain, and if it stays like that for too long, they begin to rot.
It is important to mention right from the beginning that giving your mint plant too much water once or for a short period of time won’t damage it, but if you overwater it for a long time, it will begin to become damaged and show signs of overwatering.
So what are the signs of overwatering mint? Here are the six signs that are easiest to see:
1. The plant begins to wilt or droop
The first thing you will see when a mint plant is being overwatered is that it will begin to wilt or droop. It essentially looks like the plant is tired and soft and the leaves are hanging loose on it. Wilting can happen for multiple reasons, but overwatering is probably the most common. It happens when there is too much water in the soil and not enough oxygen for the roots to “breathe”.
2. The leaves become yellow and brown and fall off
Shortly after an overwatered mint plant begins to wilt, more and more of its leaves will start to turn yellow and brown and eventually become dry and fall off. If you see this on your own plant, remove the dead growth to promote new and healthy growth. As long as there are still some fresh, green leaves on your mint, you will most likely be able to save it.
3. Root rot and stunted growth
If a mint plant has been overwatered for a while, the roots will eventually begin to rot little by little, and when that happens, the plant will grow slower and slower as more and more of the root system rots. This happens because the rotten roots can no longer help the plant obtain water and nutrients, so when all the roots are dead, the rest of the plant quickly dies too.
Remember that there are a lot of other potential reasons why mint grows slowly. You can read more about that on this link.
4. The soil doesn’t dry out within a few days
One of the clearest signs of overwatering is that the soil doesn’t dry out within a couple of days of watering the plant. If this happens, it is usually because the roots are already starting to rot and are struggling to obtain the water they already have. So before you give your mint plant more water, always make sure the top of the soil is dry. Mint thrives in soil that is moist but never completely wet and also never completely dry.
This is much more common if you use plastic containers or other containers without drainage holes. Instead of that, I always use and recommend using some good terra cotta pots with a drainage hole at the bottom. The material and the drainage hole make it much easier for water to drain through so the soil doesn’t stay wet for too long. Here are some excellent terra cotta pots from Amazon.
5. The plant doesn’t liven up when watered
Plants usually liven up and look more fresh and healthy shortly after they are being watered, but if a plant is suffering from overwatering, it won’t liven up at all when it is watered but instead stay loose and soft (wilting).
Giving overwatered plants more water is a very common mistake because many of the symptoms of overwatering can also be signs of underwatering, although the cause and solution are very different. Feel the soil to see if it is dry or wet. If it is wet, the problem is most likely overwatering, and if it is dry, it is probably underwatering. You should essentially use your common sense. If you water your mint every day, overwatering is more likely than underwatering, and if you rarely ever water it, it is probably being underwatered. But yea, see if the soil is wet or dry.
6. Mold begins to appear on the soil and the plant
Mold can appear on plants for several reasons, but a very common reason is overwatering, as too much water creates a great environment for mold. If mold begins to appear on the soil or the plant, see if you can remove the affected soil or leaves.
Based on the signs I covered here, you should be able to tell if your mint plant is overwatered. If it is overwatered and you intend to keep it alive, you should keep reading as I share some simple tips you can use to save it. Don’t worry; it is usually really easy to save overwatered mint.
How to Save an Overwatered Mint Plant (6 Tips That Work)
Overwatered mint plants can usually be saved pretty easily, so if your mint has gotten too much water, you don’t have to worry. At least not yet, because I have some great tips to share that I have used to save overwatered herbs many times.
Here are six tips you can use to save an overwatered mint plant:
- Allow the top of the soil to dry. If you have overwatered your mint plant, it is important to allow the soil to dry out a bit, but keep in mind that the soil should not get completely dry all the way through. A good rule of thumb is to touch the top of the soil and only water the plant when the top of the soil is dry. If you have mulch on the soil around the plant, it can be a good idea to remove it temporarily as it can retain a lot of moisture in the soil.
- Place the plant in a sunny location. For the soil to dry out, the plant needs to absorb some sunlight. Without sunlight, the plant won’t have much use of the water and won’t obtain much of it, which means the remaining water stays in the pot, eventually causing the roots to rot. So place your mint in a sunny location.
- Remove the plate from underneath the plant. If your potted mint has been overwatered, it can be a good idea to remove the plate from underneath the pot to allow any water in the pot to run through it easier. You can place it outside, on your bathroom floor, in a sink, or anywhere else that can get wet. It should be somewhere the plant gets some light though. Once the plant is happy again, you can put the plate back underneath it and place it where you want.
- Transplant your mint to a larger pot. Mint plants that grow in small pots or containers are much more likely to be overwatered than mint plants in large containers or directly in the ground. This is because there is not much room for roots to grow in a small pot, and the smaller the roots are, the less water they can obtain and use.
- Remove any dead growth from the plant. Look for leaves that are turning yellow and brown and remove them. Not only does this promote new growth, but it also reduces the risk of mold and other issues. I recommend that you always use clean and sharp pruning shears to remove dead growth from your mint.
- Take some cuttings and grow new mint plants. If your mint plant is heavily damaged from being overwatered, it might not be possible to save it, but if there is some healthy green growth left on it, you might be able to take some cuttings and grow them as new plants. Just cut off some fresh, green (not brown) stems that are about 3 inches or longer (the longer the better), remove all the leaves except the top 4 or so (important), and place the stems in a glass of water. After about two weeks, it will have grown roots and you can plant it in soil. Taking cuttings also makes the plant you take them from much bushier and more productive over time. You can read more about that here where I share 8 tips for that.
I have confidence that these tips will work for you, but no matter what, it is a good idea to know how to avoid overwatering your mint in the future. I share some tips for that below, so keep reading.
5 Tips to Help You Avoid Overwatering Mint
I have five tips to share with you that I use to keep my mint plants healthy and avoid overwatering them. Here they are:
Know how much water mint needs and how often to water it
The most important thing you should know to avoid overwatering mint is how much water it needs and how often you should water it.
The best rule of thumb when it comes to watering mint is to only water it when the top of the soil is dry.
I have seen many places recommend that you water your plants on a fixed schedule, but some other places (example) recommend against this. I also strongly recommend that you do not water your mint on a fixed schedule because its needs will change as it grows. By following a fixed schedule, you risk giving your plants either too much or too little water.
Instead, I recommend watering your plants when they ask for it. For mint, you can know that it needs water when the top of the soil is dry and not before that. Don’t let the soil dry out completely, but also never allow it to be wet or soggy. Mint thrives in moist soil and the best way to keep the soil moist is to water it when the top of it is dry.
Make sure the soil has proper drainage
The best way to avoid overwatering mint (or any other plant for that matter) is to make sure the soil is being drained properly.
If you grow mint in a pot or a container, make sure it has one or more drainage holes at the bottom to ensure proper drainage. I recommend reading this article about the best pot size and material for growing mint to ensure proper drainage and everything else it needs.
Only water your mint from the bottom in the future
If your mint is growing in a pot, I recommend watering it by pouring water into the plate underneath the plant rather than directly onto the soil. That way, the water is absorbed up into the soil rather than draining down through it.
Bottom watering like this promotes root growth as the roots have to actively seek out the water, and the more the roots grow, the more unlikely the plant is to suffer from overwatering. You can read more about this in this article.
Water your mint with lime-free water
Tap water can contain a lot of lime. This may not apply to your area, but too much lime in the water can inhibit plants’ ability to obtain nutrients from the soil.
Rainwater works really well for watering plants but otherwise, you can boil some water and let it cool down before you water your mint with it.
If your mint is generally doing fine, too much lime is most likely not a problem for you, but if you keep seeing issues with your plants, it might be a reason.
Allow your mint to get 5-6 hours of direct sun per day
Without any light, mint doesn’t have much use for water and won’t obtain much of it from the soil and will easily end up being overwatered as a result. Therefore, you should make sure the mint is getting at least about 5-6 hours of sunlight per day, but more is only a good thing.
According to a report from the University of Minnesota, mint can actually grow in quite a bit of shade, but grows much better in full sunlight. One thing is for sure though; more sunlight means less risk of overwatering. You can read more about the best growing conditions (including sunlight) for mint on this link.
Follow these tips, and your mint plants should stay happy and not overwatered in the future.
What Happens if a Mint Plant Is Overwatered for Too Long?
Overwatering is bad for any plant, but some are more resistant to it than others. Old and large mint plants are pretty resistant to being overwatered (but not immune), but young, small mint plants are not and can become overwatered quite easily.
If a mint plant is overwatered for too long, several things happen.
When mint plants are being overwatered for too long, more and more of their roots begin to rot, making the plant grow slower and slower until all the roots are completely rotten. When that happens, the plant can no longer obtain water or nutrients and dies quickly.
Overwatering is a serious problem, but it can often also be prevented quite easily, so I highly recommend keeping that in mind and preventing the problem rather than dealing with it once it happens. Make sure you only water your mint when the top of the soil is dry. Keep the soil moist, but never completely wet and also never completely dry.