I have mint plants and they almost got frozen last week. Some stems died. Are they evergreen or should I just harvest them now before they go dormant? There is no indication except for the frost damage that they would go dormant.
Hardiness Zone: 8a
cd4life from DFW Texas
No herb garden is really complete without a mint plant or two. As many gardeners here will tell you, killing off your mint is the least of your worries. Mint isn't technically an evergreen in zone 8, but it is a hardy perennial that will gladly return to take over your garden year after year. In fact, I recommend finding a way to contain it next spring. The easiest way is to pot it up and drop the pot back into the ground, but this time in a location away (preferably far away) from the rest of your garden beds. Even when growing in pots in the ground, mint runners are tenacious enough to pop out the drain holes and start new plants. Your mint may be behaving for the moment, but eventually will spread throughout the garden (and over to your neighbors) and become a real headache. For now, discard any damaged or dying leaves and continue harvesting the green ones until they die back. For next year, keep in mind that you can extend your harvest by potting up a few of your plants and bringing them inside to grow in a sunny window over winter.
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I can tell you that gardening in Michigan is very different from Texas; we already have eight inches of snow and my herb garden is covered in fluffy white! I harvest mint as soon as the leaves are big enough, and before flowering has occurred. One thing I have learned about mint, is that it is VERY hardy, you don't have to worry about hurting it by harvesting too much or too early. I have had mint take over and I started pulling it out like an invasive weed, threw it into the field and it took root out there! You should start to harvest your mint now, before another frost, and pick off the leaves that were frost damaged and throw them away. I have dried herbs by either hanging them upside down or I have used the microwave. Be careful if you use a microwave you can over-dry your herbs and burn them. I use the microwave to dry parsley and it works great, I hang the rosemary to dry, and I hang the thyme too. Good luck with your mint!
My mint plants are ever green.
Pick what you can, to use now, but don't worry about your plants. Mint is extremely hardy. I live in Arkansas and have had mint growing in my yard for years. It freezes and dies in winter, but will grow back next spring with a vengence. Trust me--you cannot kill mint!
You may want to contain it though, or it will take over your property. The roots go deep, and a tiny 1/2" piece of stem will root into another plant. It also will go to seed. Soon, you may be sorry that you ever planted it. You will have to sift through every inch of soil to get out all pieces to get rid of it. Then do it again the next year to get the ones you missed and those that grew from seed. And probably the next year too... Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love mint. Just beware. Like the other posting said, if you just throw it on the soil somewhere, it will grow. I gave some to a friend who kills everything, has the worse soil around, and never waters anything. It grew for her.
I've also read several postings that growing mint around the house will keep ants away. Maybe our Southern-ants are a stronger breed, but that does not work around here. I have ant mounds living in my mint beds. And yes, they still come into my house.
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