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Invasive Plants: Is all mint invasive?

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seran72
Bozeman, MT

February 27, 2011
1:51 PM

Post #8395917

I'm in Zone 4 and I'm wondering if there are any species of mint that would not be invasive.

Thank you for any insights.

Sarah

greenthumb99

greenthumb99
Lucketts, VA
(Zone 7a)

February 27, 2011
3:49 PM

Post #8396202

Do you mean specifically species in the genus Mentha, or are you using the term "mint" in a broader sense?
seran72
Bozeman, MT

February 28, 2011
5:16 AM

Post #8397230

Hi greenthumb99,

Tentatively: I think I mean something from the genus mentha.

I love the herb mint that I buy fresh at the grocery store. I make teas and put it in salads, vegetable dishes, soups, etc. Sometimes I just hold and smell a sprig because I like the aroma so much. The packaging doesn't specify any particular plant, it just says "mint."

I was hoping to plant some of that stuff, whatever it is, or something pretty similar to it, in my garden. But as I soon as I started looking into it, it began to appear that it is invasive to the point of needing to always and only be grown in a container.

Which I am okay with. I like the stuff so much, I might buy a large indoor container and grow it in my kitchen.

But I'm still curious whether there are any mint species that, in Zone 4, are not invasive. I've noticed that some plants that are invasive in other zones (like barberry), our state doesn't worry about because the winters are so harsh that they never get a chance to spread.

I will probably call the Montana noxious plant department and ask about it, but if any of you experts have any insights, I'd love to hear. :-)

Thank you,

Sarah

greenthumb99

greenthumb99
Lucketts, VA
(Zone 7a)

February 28, 2011
6:40 AM

Post #8397387

Seran,

I don't have the experience of gardening in zone 4 like you, so I can't speak the the agressiveness of mints in that climate. In my zone 6/7 with ample moisture most mints are pretty wayward, especially if one's garden has a layer of loose mulch or compost. Since I enjoy mints of all types I simply take 3 gallon (or larger) black plastic nursery pots, cut off the bottoms, and sink them with about 1 to 2 inches protruding above ground level. This gives room for a nice clump of the plant and keeps it confined in the garden. Simply check regularly for runners trying to sneak over the top of the pot and prune them out. You can use the trimmings to start new plants or enhance your culinary endeavors.
seran72
Bozeman, MT

February 28, 2011
6:57 AM

Post #8397428

Thank you, greenthumb99!

One of my follow-up questions was going to be: if I grow outdoors how deep does the bottomless container need to go to keep it contained, and you've answered that for me. If I grow outdoors I will do as you say.

You said you like all varieties of mint. Do you have a favorite? Or one particular variety that you would recommend if I'm only going to grow one type?

Thanks again.

greenthumb99

greenthumb99
Lucketts, VA
(Zone 7a)

February 28, 2011
7:17 PM

Post #8398996

Seran,

I think my favorite mint is Chocolate Peppermint Mint. Its foliage has a really rich peppermint fragrance that I find heady and delightful. Similarly, I really like a mint sold as “Spearmint Chewing Gum Mint” because of its intense, clean spearmint smell.

English Pennyroyal (M. pulegium) gives perhaps the best floral display and is not as aggressive (for me) as most of the others. In fact I don’t even bother to contain it as I find it easy to control. It is a low (less than12”) growing plant that works well for me as a ground cover under taller perennials.

Also, easy to control Corsican Mint (M. requienii) forms a very low, almost moss-like mat that works well between stepping stones. I like to bring a pot of it in over the winter. Rubbing one’s fingers over the mat produces a very clean, minty fragrance that helps dispel the winter “blahs”.

I don’t have any experience gardening in Zone 4 like where you live, but I suspect that you may have little problem controlling most mints if you don’t loosen and/or mulch the soil surrounding your planting hole. You might check with the Montana State Extension Office headquartered right there in Bozeman to gain first hand experiences of local gardeners in this matter. (406) 994-1750

Edited to replace the missing portion of my original post. Apparently one cannot use the "less than" symbol.


This message was edited Mar 5, 2011 10:46 AM
jimtomczak
Mobile, AL
(Zone 8a)

March 5, 2011
5:04 AM

Post #8407701

seran72 Hi, This may or may not be out of context, BUT I have purchased-- Chocolate mint,Pineapple,Peppermint,lemon mint,Spearmint,Mentha spp.(common mint),Mountain mint(Pycanthemum pilosum),Lemon Balm, and more over the years that slip from memory. None lasted more than two months in my ground. I do have 2 12'x12' pots of some sort of mutant lemon balm. It Thrives with no help from me. I did not even plant them in the pots. they have been growing every spring, summer and autumn freeze down every winter. They are a few inches tall now and will fill their homes and get to be about a foot tall by mid. march.I wish I could grow Mint in-ground.JIMT.
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 5, 2011
1:14 PM

Post #8408480

I live in zone 7a and grew up in zone 6b. My mom always had spearmint, and it holds special fond memories for me. I also got some chocolate mint and I love the smell of it also. It always came up on it's own for my mom. I just moved here a year ago, but noticed that I have some green leaves on what I have in the ground already. I also have some in a pot in the house to overwinter. It got real leggy over the winter, so I'm not sure how well it would do potted and kept in the kitchen. Good luck!
seran72
Bozeman, MT

March 5, 2011
7:12 PM

Post #8409169

Greenthumb, I thought there was more to that last post than what came through originally. :-) Thank you for taking the time to reload it.

I'm going to call the extension office this week and I'll post their response here, in case it helps anyone who ever finds their way back to this thread.

Also, for what it's worth: I did look through a pocket guide on invasive species put out by the state of Montana and it lists no species of mint. This state publication lists mentha arvensis ("field mint") as a native species: http://mtnhp.org/wetlands/docs/Book.pdf

One local gardener told me not to plant mint in the ground here. Another told me that years ago he planted a single mint plant into the ground. All these years later, that single plant is today a patch approximately 3 square feet. Which is not exactly a horror story. The latter does no supplemental watering or soil amendments, so that might be why he hasn't had more of a problem.

Jim, thank you for the feedback on the species you've tried. You must have terrible soil where you live?? Mine is hard clay, but I've amended it enough and use tolerant species, so I haven't had any total losses (Yet. I've only been here since 2008). Around here, mint seems to be one that grows without much help from us humans so I'm hopeful I'll be enjoying some home-grown mint of my own soon. :-)

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 6, 2011
6:47 AM

Post #8409811

The pocket guide to 'invasives' will not include things that simply wander aggressively, like mint. The worst thing with a mint would be planting it near some thing else, in which the mint will make underground runners that come up in the neighbor plants and make themselves nearly impossible to remove. Example, if you like your iris neat and tidy, don't stick a mint next door. You'd be fighting mint sprouts thru the iris rhizomes.
A good sized, partially buried pot like greenthumb described, is great. Otherwise, give it room so you can dig around the main clump and keep it in check.
jimtomczak
Mobile, AL
(Zone 8a)

March 6, 2011
2:17 PM

Post #8410581

seran72, I just don't know. My little space has been amended (50'x18') Tested by Auburn ag. dept.& fried dyed and laid to the side, This week I'll be putting in a Abyssinian Red Ensete Banana.I will plant a mint as a living mulch Around it.You never know. JIMT.(But I'll never plant that "lemon Balm" in the garden. It's scary. looks kind of nice when in full leaf though.)
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 8, 2011
4:38 AM

Post #8413852

What is the problem with lemon balm? I haven't planted it but do have seeds I was going to sow. Probably will be in a pot, but I am making a large new bed and was going to have a herb garden in it.

greenthumb99

greenthumb99
Lucketts, VA
(Zone 7a)

March 8, 2011
6:49 AM

Post #8414093

Crit - I've gardened in the Midwest, Texas and the Mid-Atlantic. In all those areas lemon balm bas been the bane of many gardeners. It reseeds profusely, and everyone I've known who planted it has ended up with their entire bed taken over by this plant. About the only way I know to keep it contained is to plant a small patch surrounded by a large expanse of some impenetrable ground cover like zozia grass. If you put it in a container and it goes to seed, you will have it everywhere. Check with the master gardeners of your local extension office for adivce from gardeners in your immediate area, since soil and climate can be major factors in difficulties with any plant:

OSU Extension, Tulsa County
4116 E. 15th Street
Tulsa, Ok. 74112-6198
(918) 746 3701 (Tulsa County OSU Extension)
http://www.TulsaMasterGardeners.org/

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 8, 2011
6:52 AM

Post #8414106

Another, less problematic problem seems to be knowing which 'lemon balm' you have or want. Some people have 'one' that is yumy, and others have 'one' that reeks of Lemon Pledge (gag). .

greenthumb99

greenthumb99
Lucketts, VA
(Zone 7a)

March 8, 2011
7:02 AM

Post #8414127

There is also a lime scented variety. Sally,do you grow lemon balm in your yard?

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 8, 2011
7:29 AM

Post #8414166

I'll say I grow something given to me as lemon balm, and having that Pledge smell many find too strong. I recall a lengthy thread once trying to ID an emerging plant and getting into this lemon balm discussion. Here is my lemon balm early last spring. A thick mat very similar to catnip, but early catnip here has purple coloring to it.

Thumbnail by sallyg
Click the image for an enlarged view.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 8, 2011
7:31 AM

Post #8414168

Here I compared my lemon balm leaf to my catnip leaf- LB on left, slightly rounder, slight sheen.

This message was edited Mar 8, 2011 10:33 AM

Thumbnail by sallyg
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 8, 2011
5:23 PM

Post #8415268

Hmmmm, going to have to check to see what I have. Off hand I am thinking maybe lemon 'grass' and 'bee' balm?

Thanks for the information greenthumb. I'll check them out too.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 8, 2011
10:38 PM

Post #8415797

LOL Crit--even if you smush them together...won't exactly make 'lemon-balm'!
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 9, 2011
4:13 AM

Post #8415901

LOL... maybe what I have is OK then. :-)
firsttwelve
Bowling Green, OH

March 12, 2011
5:24 PM

Post #8423025

Not in the "mentha' genus, two mints come to mind that I use in cooking and teas: Monarda fistulosum and Pycnanthemum virginiana; both mints, both delicious! Neither invasive and both are native to your area (almost) and very beneficial to wildlife.
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 12, 2011
8:20 PM

Post #8423403

I looked and it IS Lemon Balm that I have. ~Woooooo...wiping forehead in relief~
seran72
Bozeman, MT

March 18, 2011
10:33 AM

Post #8434466

Thank you, Firsttwelve. I just looked those up and they both look worthwhile for their attractiveness to bees and butterflies *and* their lovely scents. :-)

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 18, 2011
12:06 PM

Post #8434619

Boy, I'm getting a look at how the chocolate peppermint has been secretly spreading underground last summer and fall...EEEKKK!! It's all over!
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 18, 2011
4:53 PM

Post #8435127

I LOVE the choc. mint!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 19, 2011
9:36 AM

Post #8436328

It DOES make the most delicious smelling weed/ dried plant material I have ever had to clean up!
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

March 19, 2011
11:46 AM

Post #8436478

LOL @ sally!!! I have mine planted in spots that I don't care if it travels. Have to go 'weed' it occasionally, just to get the smell. :-)

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 19, 2011
12:38 PM

Post #8436550

Last year I started letting my mints be a semi impervious mass along the under edge of my garden fencing. I already have concerns about how much it will stay under the fence and not go all thru the strawberries. I may have to enforce a mint free zone.
sarahal
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

July 4, 2011
8:04 PM

Post #8672754

firsttwelve wrote:Not in the "mentha' genus, two mints come to mind that I use in cooking and teas: Monarda fistulosum and Pycnanthemum virginiana; both mints, both delicious! Neither invasive and both are native to your area (almost) and very beneficial to wildlife.


Yay firsttwelve! Natives! I have Pycnanthemum and Monarda didyma, both covered in pollinators, I got a great photo of a spicebush swallowtail on my monarda today.
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

July 5, 2011
6:14 AM

Post #8673275

My Monarda isn't blooming yet. I got starts from a DG friend this spring, and they are looking GREAT, just no blooms yet.
seran72
Bozeman, MT

July 6, 2011
3:16 PM

Post #8676699

Hi, All.

I ended up getting cocky and planted some spearmint, chocolate mint and one other in the ground. Then my local garden shop had a stern discussion with me and convinced me to dig it up and put it in containers. I did, and when I saw what it had been doing underground . . . it was a little creepy.

So, now it's all in pots or sunken containers. I learned my lesson.

But oh the smell is heavenly. :-)

Sarah

OutlawHeart81

OutlawHeart81
Syracuse, NY
(Zone 5a)

July 12, 2011
8:41 PM

Post #8689408

My mother's garden is a testament to the invasive nature of mint and lemon balm. I will not allow those in my yard.
epazota
Lakeland, MN
(Zone 4a)

August 15, 2011
11:26 AM

Post #8757784

I am a little late. But, I will confirm mint of any kind I have worked with in zone 4 is so invasive! The only place I have it is in a pot as it is great to have.
Good luck.
Epazota
salix_man
Barberton, OH

August 18, 2011
6:59 PM

Post #8763770

My lemon balm does not spread except by seeds, easily controlled with snips a few times a year. Catnip is the same. I love the smell of chocolate mint where it has spread into the lawn when I cut. My spearmint and peppermint were both drowned by long inundations of water, Blackberries, too and some of my bamboo

OutlawHeart81

OutlawHeart81
Syracuse, NY
(Zone 5a)

August 18, 2011
7:08 PM

Post #8763787

I do like the smell of chocolate mint
Gracye
Warrenton, VA

June 6, 2012
9:32 AM

Post #9154561

In general, from what I've seen growing up in Virginia, I've never seen a mint that didn't take to "adventuring..."
daylilydreams
small town, MN
(Zone 4b)

June 10, 2012
6:58 PM

Post #9159808

I do have experience gardening in zone 4 and yes all mints are invasive.
seran72
Bozeman, MT

June 18, 2012
11:07 AM

Post #9170133

Firsttwelve, I planted some monarda and I love, love, love it. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

Sarahal, I'm a year late, but did you ever post a pic of the swallowtail on your monarda?



Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

June 19, 2012
9:03 PM

Post #9172335

I received Monarda last year in trade, and it never did bloom but was healthy and growing. This year they are blooming and I LOVE it. I have Rasperry Wine and am looking for others. They are all in pots right now as DH just finished my new bed where I am going to put one pot of them. The others are going to stay in their pots on the patio.

OutlawHeart81

OutlawHeart81
Syracuse, NY
(Zone 5a)

May 9, 2013
6:01 PM

Post #9515049

I'm back on DG guys!!!! and living...guess... just guess where... yup...the house with ALL the mint and lemon balm! i am pulling out lemon balm root clumps that look like tree stumps... hahahahahahahahahah i have to laugh seeing this post as i come back to my DG home from my mother's old house. thank god for gardens and good laughs! ;)
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

June 26, 2013
1:47 PM

Post #9574323

Good to see you Outlaw. I myself have been MIA for quite some time and am just returning to DG myself.

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