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How you water your mint has a big impact on how well it grows. One of the things you should know about watering mint is whether it is best to water it from the top or bottom because there is actually a quite significant difference. I have written this article to explain exactly that and why one way is generally better than the other.
It is better to water mint plants from the bottom than from the top, although watering from the top is also fine. The reason why bottom watering is better is that it encourages the roots to grow more to reach the water, which makes the plant better able to obtain nutrients and water and thereby grow more.
In this article, I dive into why bottom watering can help your mint grow faster and better. I also share some other cool and really useful tips for watering mint that I have learned over the years.
Why Watering Mint From the Bottom Is Better
The most natural way of watering mint is probably to just pour the water on top of the soil. While that is perfectly fine to do, there are several advantages to pouring the water into the plate underneath the pot and letting it be soaked up into the pot instead of pouring it on top of the soil. This method is called bottom watering.
Bottom watering encourages the plant’s roots to stretch and grow to reach the water at the bottom of the pot. The more the roots grow, the more efficiently the plant can obtain water and nutrients, making it stronger and growing even faster.
When you water your mint from the top, the water will sink into the soil and reach the roots without the roots having to stretch and grow to reach it.
The roots will, of course, still grow if you water your mint from the top and the plant will be just fine even if you only water it from the top. The roots just won’t grow quite as much as if you water from the bottom, so you would most likely miss out on some extra growth.
If you are growing your mint directly in the ground, it is, of course, not possible to pour water into the plate underneath the plant. In that case, you honestly shouldn’t worry about it at all and just water your mint normally.
I generally don’t recommend growing mint directly in the ground though, since it spreads rapidly and can get out of control. You can read more about that on this link.
Another advantage of watering your mint from the bottom is that it reduces the risk of overwatering.
This is partly because it encourages the roots to grow more and the more comprehensive the root system is, the more water it can take. Another reason is that when you pour the water into the plate instead of on top of the soil, the soil and roots will stop absorbing water from the plate when the soil is saturated. When you water from the top, all the water will run through the soil even if the soil is already saturated.
Best Way to Water Mint Plants (And How Often to Water Them)
As I have already explained in this article, watering your mint from the bottom is a good trick that helps promote root growth and reduce the risk of overwatering. It is far from the only trick when it comes to watering mint, though. I have a couple of other simple but really effective tips for watering your mint that I want to share with you.
I have heard and read many recommendations saying that you should water your mint on a fixed schedule. Twice a week for example. In my experience, however, doing so can easily lead to some problems since so many things affect how much water a plant needs. This can be weather, soil type, plant size, amount of direct sunlight it gets, and much more.
I have a much more reliable way to tell if your mint needs to be watered.
Mint grows best in soil that is moist and never too wet or completely dry. The best way I have found to keep the soil consistently moist is to keep an eye on the top of the soil. When you notice that the soil looks dry, stick a finger about an inch (2.5 cm) into the soil and if the finger comes up dry, you should water the plant. If the finger comes up wet or moist, you should not.
The best time of the day to water mint is early in the morning. When you water before the sunlight gets very intense, the water has time to sink into the soil, allowing the mint plant to utilize all of it. If you water in full sun, some of the water will most likely evaporate before the plant gets to use it. That said, if your mint needs water, don’t wait until the next morning. It is always better to water than to wait if the plant needs water.
Overwatering is probably one of the most common problems people have when they grow mint. As I explained earlier in this article, bottom watering is a good way to reduce the risk of overwatering. Using a finger to feel the soil, like I do in the photo above, is a very reliable way to tell if your mint needs more water, in my experience.
You can read a lot more about how to avoid overwatering mint, how to tell if it is overwatered, and how to save it on this link.
Underwatering is not as common with mint as it is with many other herbs, so if your mint looks thirsty, there is a good chance you have actually been giving it too much water.
This is because some of the signs of overwatering can easily seem like the plant is thirsty, but mint is actually relatively drought tolerant and will recover from drought quickly. You can read more about that in this paper from the University of Florida IFAS Extension.