Rather than traipsing around the shops and frittering the weekend away in seemingly endless queues to buy gifts this December, I’d like to encourage you to head out into the garden to propagate your favourite plants and share the joy of home-grown gifts this Christmas!
Mint is a fast-growing and spreading plant. I always recommend growing mint in containers to prevent this plant’s naturally assertive growth from taking over your garden, patio, and any nearby countryside! In December and January, I divide mint to maintain the vigour of my plants. Annual division keeps mint plants strong and healthy, and also provides a wonderful opportunity to give your spare plants to friends, family, and neighbours.
Firstly, remove your mint plant from its pot. It’s possible that the plant’s roots may have grown through the container’s drainage holes and out the other side, firmly securing your plant to its pot. If this is the case, turn the pot over and cut off all the roots that have grown out through bottom of the pot and then give your plant a good wiggle to remove it.
Next, with your plant free from its container and set it the right way up, use an old bread knife or step down onto a sharp spade to slice through the whole plant. Cut through the plant from top to bottom (like a cake), first into halves and then quarters.
Mint requires regular division every winter, therefore when you’re potting up mint it’s important to use containers with straight sides to make it easier for you to remove the plants from their pots and divide them annually. Choose pots with holes in the base for drainage and cover the holes with a broken piece of pot or tile. Select a pot that has straight sides or is shaped like a standard flowerpot; never use urn-shaped planters or anything with a narrow neck.
The only way to remove an established plant from an urn-shaped planter is to expend a monumental amount of effort and energy forcing your way through the compost to tear at the intertwined roots and free your plant. The plant’s outer roots need to be severed until the root ball is small enough to be pulled out through the narrow opening of your pot.
Plant mint divisions in containers of peat-free compost. Dalefoot Wool Potting Compost is my preferred compost for mint during the spring and summer months and in times of drought when these plants require a moisture-retentive growing medium. However, homemade garden compost or standard peat-free compost is a good option to use for winter planting when rain is more prevalent. Stand your finished planters on pot feet (or utilise small blocks of wood or mosaic tiles) to lift the containers off the ground and improve drainage and airflow.
For more than 20 tips for creating a successful compost heap, please click here.
For more gardening advice for December, please click here.
To see my Calendar of Snowdrop Garden Openings, please click here.