This post contains affiliate links.
Mint is a cold-hardy perennial herb that can survive winters in most places, but there are some things you should do with it at the end of the growing season to help it thrive as much as possible after the winter. I explain precisely what you should do in this article.
- If there are any green leaves left on your mint plants at the end of the growing season, you should pick them as the plant goes dormant and will drop the leaves anyway.
- Prune your mint plants by cutting them back to about an inch (2.5 cm) above the ground. This is best to do at the end of the season but can also be done in the spring.
As simple as it sounds, this is what I do with my mint at the end of every growing season and it works exactly as it should. The plants come back thriving in the spring. If you’re interested in learning about how and why mint comes back every year, you can head over to the article on this link.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to an herb expert about this and he confirmed that what I am doing and explaining here is correct. He told me that he always cuts his mint back already at the end of the season rather than waiting until the spring.
I also do this and recommend that you prune your mint in the fall or early winter because fresh, green shoots will start to appear soon after, even in pretty cold places, which means you can have several months of extra growth, compared to if you wait until the spring. This is definitely nice, but you can absolutely also wait before you cut it back if you prefer that.
It is always best to use some good, clean, and sharp pruning shears when you prune your plants to avoid damaging them. If you don’t already have pruning shears, I recommend these from Amazon. I bought them recently (you can see them in the photo below) and I am very pleased with them.
As the herb expert I talked to also told me, mint plants are deciduous, which means that they drop their leaves at the end of the season. That’s why you might as well pick any leaves that are left at the end of the season before they fall off.
In the case of mint, most of the above-ground growth dries out and dies at the end of the season, which is fine since it will grow back from the roots and not the stems.
Easiest way to cut mint back to prepare for next season
It is important to cut mint plants back before a new growing season begins to promote new, fresh growth. Luckily, it is also very easy.
The easiest way to prune mint to prepare it for a new growing season is to cut the whole plant back to about an inch (2.5 cm) above the ground. Remove as much dead growth as possible, but avoid cutting or removing any roots as they are needed for the plant to grow back.
As I explained earlier in this article, you can cut your mint back like this at the end of the growing season or you can wait until spring. I always cut it back at the end of the season since it will start to grow back much earlier.
This is the type of pruning you should do to prepare mint plants for a new growing season, but it is actually also extremely beneficial to give them several (much) lighter prunings throughout the year. You can read about why and how to do it in the article on this link.
Be careful if you compost the mint you cut off because if there are live roots, they might start to grow new plants in your compost pile and it can be extremely difficult to get rid of mint once it establishes itself and starts spreading.
When does the mint growing season start and end
As with any other plant, the growing season for mint depends on the climate it grows in, but I have a good rule of thumb to figure out approximately when it is where you live.
The mint growing season typically begins in early spring and lasts until mid to late fall when the leaves begin to fall off and the plant goes dormant for the winter.
If you live in a very warm place, your mint growing season might be even longer than this and as I explained earlier in this article, if you cut your mint back at the end of the season, it might already start to grow back in the winter.
It is best to sow mint in the spring after the last frost because while it can survive frost when it gets bigger, seedlings are relatively fragile.
Mint plants usually flower in the summer when there is a lot of direct sunlight and high temperatures.
In my experience, you can usually begin to harvest mint within less than 2 months after sowing it. Just remember that you shouldn’t cut it all the way back when you harvest it, but instead just take what you need. I have a guide specifically for this on this link where I explain how to harvest mint so it keeps growing and gets bushier and more productive over time.