Because it is one of the toughest herbs and requires relatively little maintenance, I always advise beginning gardeners to start off with growing mint in pots.
However, mint plants occasionally have issues, frequently caused by environments that are not ideal for them. The most frequent causes of mint dying include improper soil pH, pest infestations, overwatering, underwatering, and lighting conditions.
Read on to learn how to treat these issues to revive your dying mint plant.
How Can You Tell if Your Mint is Dying?
Mint is a hardy plant that produces a lot of vibrant green leaves. But even plants with a reputation for vigor can be harmed. Watch out for these telltale signs:
Brown Crunchy Leaves
Depending on the variety, mint leaves can differ slightly. For instance, chocolate mint has burgundy blushes, while spearmint has a blue tint. However, no mint is supposed to have brown, brittle, or crunchy leaves.
Depending on your mint type, a healthy mint stem will be either green and velvety or bright woody brown. They are flexible and will bounce back when pressed. Your mint is either sunburned or under-watered if they snap with the slightest pressure. Sagging, blackened stems are unhealthy or rotten. If they are wet, they are already dead and cannot be saved.
Soft Sickly Leaves
Soft, wilting leaves are working hard to absorb nutrients. This can occur as a result of Overwatering, poor soil, or rotten roots. It is worse to have wet, blackened, or spotted leaves. That is a sign of illness, particularly blights and fungal rots.
When your mint plant is ill, hurt, or dying, it will act in a drastic way to conserve energy. The plant can conserve water and energy by losing leaves. Your plant is making one last effort to survive.
Total Plant Disintegration
Your mint plant should be a robust, clumping mass of stems and runners. If they separate when you touch them, your plant is either dead or dying. Your poor mint will not survive if there is no hidden growth at the base.
How to Revive a Dying Mint Plant
All the signs mentioned above result from some care practices and a lack of specific elements needed for the growth of your mint plants. Here are the most common reasons why your mint is dying and how you can salvage each condition.
It is a fact that whenever I am presented with a dead houseplant, over-watering is almost always to blame. Giving your plants lots of water may seem like good care, but in reality, you are drowning them. The roots of plants rot and die if they don’t get the air they need to survive.
Signs of Over-watering
- Weak, sodden stems
- Yellowing leaves
- Damp, musty aroma
- Soggy potting medium
- Lifting the pot in between waterings causes water to drip from the base.
A variety of fungi that cause root rot are encouraged by soggy soil. If overwatering has been a recurring problem, the soil’s nutrients have likely also been completely flushed out.
How to Fix
The best option for a plant that has mostly drowned is to repot it. This will add fresh nutrients and allow you to examine the roots closely.
- Use a pot that has at least one drainage hole at all times, and the more, the better!
- Make sure your mint is in a pot that is the right size. A tiny pot will do for a small mint. Large pots retain moisture, which causes the mix to become soggy.
- Using a blend of regular potting soil, perlite, peat moss, or coir is best. If the mixture is too rich, the plant may bolt and grow long, leggy stems and few flavorless leaves.
- Your mint plant has root rot and needs additional care if its roots are slimy and blackened. In mild cases, trim any black, rotten roots with clean shears or scissors.
Reduce the amount of watering to avoid this problem happening again! Your mint prefers moist but not overly soggy soil, and it only needs water once every seven days at most. Smaller plants will need less water than larger ones. All plants require slightly more water in warm and somewhat less in cool weather. That might only occur once a month in the winter.
Check the soil’s moisture content and allow the top inch to dry before watering your mint.
Mint that isn’t correctly hydrated is dry, crispy, and brown, and it also has dry soil, dry stems, and dry leaves. The entire plant feels ill-secured, and the soil is loose in the pot. Your poor mint is likely dried out from the root to the tip if the whole thing jigs when you move the pot.
How to Fix
The good news is that under-watering is much simpler to fix than over-watering. You can revive your under-watered plant by watering from below. Ironically, dry soil does not retain moisture well; water poured in from the top will most likely flow out the bottom. In addition to more thoroughly hydrating the soil, watering from below will reach the roots.
To water from below:
- Place your container in a tray or basin at least half its size.
- Fill the tray to half its height with distilled, filtered, or rainwater.
- As the water soaks the soil in your pot, you should notice a decrease in the tray’s water level. Periodically add water to keep the level stable.
- After the water level has stabilized, give your plant ten minutes to soak.
- Before putting your plant back in its spot, remove it and let it drain for about 30 minutes.
I advise busy gardeners to set a phone reminder to check their plants once a week. Although you might not need to water, it is wise to check, and I, for one, find the process quite relaxing.
One of the high points of my week is the gentle care I give my plants on a Sunday morning, so think about setting a reminder and scheduling some time for yourself, too.
Lack of Nutrients
To support its growth, your mint needs a steady supply of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other minerals. Without them, your mint’s ability to grow will be restricted, and what little it can produce will be tender. Your poor mint will eventually stop growing and die.
A few factors that restrict nutrition are old soil, excessive watering, and root damage.
How to Fix
Repotting your plant (as mentioned above) is one method for supplying new minerals to your mint plant. But if your mint plant is in relatively new soil, adding a liquid fertilizer when you water once a month is an excellent place to start.
Since mint is not a heavy feeder and is not picky about fertilizer, a balanced liquid fertilizer should work just fine.
Other methods of boosting nutrition include:
- Adding organic substances into your potting soil. The best materials are coir, compost, peat moss, and worm castings.
- Applying granules with a slow release to the soil’s surface. Each time you water, these release nutrients into the soil.
- Check your soil’s pH. Your mint won’t be able to access those essential minerals if your soil is too acidic or alkaline. Aim for a pH range of neutral to mildly acidic (around pH 6 to 7).
Frostbite and Cold Injuries
Mint is a hardy customer who can withstand some cold. In fact, mint can withstand subzero temperatures and prolonged snowfall in outdoor beds before returning in weed-like profusion in the spring.
Different problems, however, arise for indoor plants. With a sudden snap freeze, your mint could become completely dead. You risk killing your plant by freezing it to death in the winter, chilling it into dormancy in the summer if your heating breaks down, or placing your plant in a drafty area of the house.
Your plant is too cold and going into dormancy if it isn’t showing any signs of damage but is still losing healthy-looking leaves. Even though the plant appears dead, it is very simple to bring it back to life by simply warming it.
How to Fix
Move your cold mint to a warmer area of the house to bring it back to life. At first, keep your mint out of direct sunlight, but after some acclimation, it’s OK to leave it there for brief periods of time.
Be sure to place it far from the vents for the air conditioner and drafts. Your mint should quickly resurrect and begin to produce new growth. After all, you just gave your mint a false winter; as a result, it might react with the zeal of spring.
Although mint can withstand cold temperatures, it struggles in high heat. Your mint will wilt and become dehydrated if it gets too hot because it is a plant that prefers mild climates.
A mint plant can also be “cooked” in the sun after being potted into a dark container, especially if the container is made of plastic. When the roots overheat and perish, the rest of the plant also goes down.
How to Fix
- Avoid placing dark pots in the sun, particularly in the summer, to prevent heat stress. Keep an eye on the temperatures in your rooms during the day if you live in a warm climate, especially in western-facing rooms.
- If you’ve accidentally fried your mint, the simplest solution is to move it to a cooler area of the house.
- Be careful when watering. Damp soil has a darker color and absorbs more radiant heat. Water first thing in the morning or at sunset.
- Lighter-colored, thicker-walled containers will keep your roots from overheating. Terracotta is particularly practical. Terracotta absorbs moisture from the soil, which then evaporates. It’s similar to having local air conditioning for your plant.
Fungal Diseases: Diagnosis and Cure
Your mint will become susceptible to fungus infections if you overwater it. Various diseases can wreak havoc on your mint, requiring soggy soils to thrive. Make sure the environment is not too humid or wet for your mint.
Since they are plants from temperate climates, they don’t require as much humidity as the tropical plants in your collection. However, fungus adores moist environments.
Some common fungi for mint plants include
- Mint Blight
- Stolon Rot
Treating Fungal Disease
Infected plants must first be quarantined. It’s essential to contain the spread of fungi diseases. With clean shears, remove any diseased stems and leaves. Before throwing trimmings in the trash, burn them or double bag them.
Maintain proper hygiene. Never compost infected plants or their cuttings to reduce the possibility of re-infection. Never reuse potting soil or pots from infected plants, and sterilize your shears.
Unfortunately, once you notice the symptoms of many diseases, there isn’t much you can do but destroy the plant. Treatment-resistant diseases like stolon rot and mint blight pose a severe risk to your other plants. Throw everything out and start over. It is simple to replace mint.
Mint has a delicious flavor that many people enjoy, and it is just as susceptible to pest problems as any other plant. Here’s how to deal with pests in mint.
- Quarantining your infected mint is the first step in dealing with pests. The little monsters won’t be able to jump ship to another victim if you move it away from other plants.
- Remove any bugs you see with a cotton tip dipped in rubbing alcohol if only a few exist.
- You can also gently wash off thrips, spider mites, and aphids with a garden hose or shower. Spraying a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water will cause cutworms to flee. However, because most pests are good at hiding in your plant, you might need to take aggressive action and poison them.
- Most pests can be eliminated by spraying neem oil over your mint plants. It is affordable and straightforward to use.
Most infections should be cured in a month or so with a diluted solution sprayed on your mint plant twice a week in the morning.
Incorrect Soil pH
Mint prefers soils with a pH of 6 to 7, which ranges from mildly acidic to neutral. This is the best band for them because it gives them access to soil nutrients and shields their roots from microbes. If your mint plant suffers from incorrect PH, here’s how to fix it.
How to Fix
- A sprinkle of garden lime will help with acidic potting oil. You can sprinkle this white powder on the soil.
- Aluminum sulfate is a sulfate salt that can balance alkaline soils, though it takes some time to start working.
- Poultry manure can be steeped in water for a few days to produce a “tea” that boosts acidity and feeds your mint.
Of course, it might be best to repot as described above if you’d rather skip the fuss. You can maintain a mild acidity in your potting medium by adding used coffee grounds or peat moss.
Too Much Sun Exposure
Mint thrives in a lot of good light, but there is such a thing as too much good light. Plants develop a tolerance for a certain level of light. A plant won’t have enough time to adjust if you abruptly move it from shade to sun; as a result, it will get sunburned. The sunburned mint plant will have crispy edges and blackened or browned patches on the exposed part.
In terms of how quickly those patches appear, it is different from illness or malnutrition. The damage will occur immediately or a day after sun exposure. Even though burned leaves are unsightly, they can still work to give your mint energy if they are still green. However, since mint benefits from routine pruning, a quick trim to remove the ugly-looking leaves won’t do any harm.
Not Enough Sunlight
Mint grows best in direct sunlight, and it is not a plant that does well in low light. Leggy mint develops long stems with few leaves, frequently on the side closest to the light source. This is your mint trying to get as much sun as it can.
Relocate your plant to a room with more natural light to resolve the problem. The best window is one that faces north. Your potted mint is the perfect plant for those hazardously sunny locations where other plants would scorch.
Give your poor shadow mint some time to adjust. Sunburn is possible if you move something from shadows to light immediately. Move it closer each day for about a week until it is in its new location.
The good news is that you can revive a dying mint. You only need to pinpoint the exact problem affecting your plant and address it appropriately.