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05/05/2013 at 10:23

Hi everyone!

My mint I got from Sainsburys has been growing well on the kitchen windowsill - it gets plenty of light, water and the temp in the flat is always constant.

But, it is has gotten leggy and whilst it produces tiny leaves, they quickly die before they have even grown to a bigger size.  The bigger leaves are turn brown around the edges.

Something tells me it might be root bound, but there are no protruding roots coming out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.

If it is, can I just cut the roots back? I ideally want to keep it at the same size without having to put it in a bigger pot (we are lacking space).

Does anyone else have any advice what it might be?

Many thanks in advance!

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/23091.jpg?width=544&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/23092.jpg?width=544&height=350&mode=max

 

05/05/2013 at 10:29

It really prefers to be grown outside. But if that's not possible give it a feed (fertiliser) and cut the top half off. When using mint, same for basil, you crop not by picking leaves of, but by cutting off the top of the stems. That way it makes sideshoots and grows bushier.

05/05/2013 at 10:38

might need more light. I was growing a trough in my kitchen window north facing and the mint grew like that, on a south facing window it grew bigger leaves and stronger. 

05/05/2013 at 10:44

I think 'Baby-Bio' do a plant food specifically for herbs; it comes in a small bottle if you are short of space

05/05/2013 at 12:57

I think it definitely needs more light. The legginess and pale colour indicate that it's searching desperately for light. Is there any reason why it can't go outside? Mint just needs some protection from full hot sun and to be kept moist.

05/05/2013 at 13:52

Turn the plant upside down in your hand and remove the pot and I think you will find it needs a bigger pot as well as feeding and better light.

05/05/2013 at 14:16

If you can cut back by 50 percent re-pot in next size pot with fresh compost give a feed with baby bio or simular put outside if possible and water on a regularly 

05/05/2013 at 16:43

Hi all,

Thanks for your replies! I've kept the herbs indoors as last year we grew them on the balcony and they got infested with little flies.  By the time winter came, we took them indoors and the flat was filled with the annoying little flies and the plants stopped growing and died.  We started again this year but thought about keeping them indoors to protect them from infestation.

We tried all sorts of bug killers on them including using cinamon and changing the compost but nothing worked.

Ideally I want to keep it in the same size pot and cut back the roots (if it is rootbound)  - I hope that won't damage or shock the plant?

05/05/2013 at 17:00

Mint doesn't mind being rootbound. Mine's been in the same average-sized pot for years. You can also cut it back pretty heavily on top too. Providing it's got decent growing conditions it will come surging back.

The little flies won't hurt the plant outside. What colour are they? White? If so, there's little you can do to get rid of them apart from swipe at them with your hand. They don't do a lot of damage unless in plague proportions.

The benefits of putting the plant outside in plenty of light far outweigh the little flies.

05/05/2013 at 17:19

Hi Italophile,

Thanks for your reply. The little flies are black? I don't know if they are fruit flies or fungus gnats? 

It gets pretty cold in the UK, frosty and minus temperatures in the winter so at a point, I will be taking the plants in to avoid letting them freeze to death and don't want to have an infestation in the flat this year round. :/ But I will perhaps look for a small greenhouse thing with shelves to house them outside if it protects them from infestation and frost?

05/05/2013 at 18:29

Mint survives the British winter fine outside but you could try hosing them down with the shower head if you bring them in for winter

06/05/2013 at 11:48

Mizzli, we get the same winters here in central Italy. I've got an uninsulated summer studio/office on the terrace. In winter it becomes an uninsulated greenhouse - without a lot of natural light - for all the pots of things that need protection. I cut back the mint for winter and it copes perfectly well.

06/05/2013 at 19:31

Hi all,

Thanks again for your feedback.  I have since split the mint and put them in their own pots.

We're aiming to buy one of those three tier greenhouses with cover to put outside and I will probably leave them there all year round - I hope the winters don't kill them completely as by then they usually have large amounts of flies buzzing around them.  

Hopefully the greenhouse thing will stop it from being infested with flies and it's eggs.

07/05/2013 at 08:12

Mizzli, I know you're bothered by the flies but greenhouses get surprisingly hot inside in summer which won't help the mint. You could cook it. Traditionally, the best place for mint in a container is under a tap, protected from too much direct hot sun and kept moist by drips from the tap. Or kept moist by watering if your tap doesn't drip.

Wrapped in some fleece for extra protection, the mint should be happy in the greenhouse over winter.

07/05/2013 at 17:43

Cut it back and put it outside. Strip the lower leaves off the cuttings and stick them in water - when rooted pot up for new plants !

08/05/2013 at 10:58

Hey all, thanks! I've put my sorry looking mint pot outside (reluctantly) so it can hopefully recover and grow back again.  I'll take blueberry77's and grow some contingency incase it dies off.  So weird how it was growing fine by the window sill then gets leggy. Let's hope it makes a recovery outside!

I currently have mint, basil, parsley, chives, strawberries, raspberries, baby tomatoes and rockets growing indoors - I'm aware they might end up becoming like the mint if I don't take them outside when I've bought the shelf/greenhouse thing.  But once they go out, I won't be taking them back inside again. What do you do over winter (in frost and minus temps) for the plants? buy a cover? save a clipping for next year?

P.s. the greenhouse I'm buying will be one of those shelf with plastic cover type things for small patios/balconies rather than a proper glass greenhouse.  I'm not sure how effective they are. :/

Thanks again.

08/05/2013 at 11:57

Mizzli, everything needs light/sunlight to grow. I'd get them all outside into decent light if you can. What sort of overnight temps are you getting?

Of the things you've listed:

Chives, strawbs and raspberries all overwinter happily without any protection. I've had mine buried under a foot of snow and they come back. Parsley will come back, too, but I always replant every season because, I find, regrowth tends to bolt.

Mint needs some protection as I've said before.

Toms are treated as annuals. Toss them at the end of the season and start again next year. I treat basil the same way. It's so easy to grow. Ditto rocket.

Those plastic greenhouses are fine. Just bear in mind that they can generate some real heat inside in summer if kept closed.

09/05/2013 at 09:32

Hi Italophile,

 

The plastic greenhouses, only cover the top, front, back and sides of the shelf but the bottom isn’t sealed so I imagine the heat can escape there.

 

At the moment we are getting alright temps of 0 – 10 degrees Celsius, in the winter it can get up to -3 degrees Celsius or more. I suppose I can buy a cloche/plant cover for over the winter? Ideally, I’d like to leave the plants outside all year round.

 

Do you also have any tips for preventing little flies and pests? I bought some spray but then realised that we would be cooking the leaves too so probably isn’t a good idea to spray poison on. Lol!

 

Also, how can you tell if the plants have died over winter? Last year my basil, rosemary and mint all lost their leaves and seemed to stop producing anything and the stalks turned dark brownish/black – I couldn’t tell whether they were hibernating or dead.

 

Sorry for the questions – gardening is still a huge but interesting learning curve!

09/05/2013 at 09:58

Mizzli, I think you need to get a good book about herb and vgetable gardening. Some of your plants are annuals, some hardy and perennial and some, like parsley are biennual. Some hardy, some aren't.

Italophile has said your mint is hardy, it doesn't need any shelter in winter. It is also perennial which means it will die down completely in winter and come up again when the weather gets warmer, but to do that properly it needs to be outside. If you just want to use it in the kitchen then treat it as a temporary plant and get another when you've used it all, like a cut bunch. Strawberries are the same, they die down in winter and come up in spring, when they will need feeding. They like being outside and they need replacing every few years.

Basil is not hardy and will die in the winter, sow some seeds or buy another plant in the spring. Rosemary is a hardy shrub, likes to grow outside but may need some winter protection - though mine (on a south wall) has survived -17°. Being a mediterranean sort of plant it won't like being too wet and soggy, whereas basil doesn't like to dry out.

09/05/2013 at 10:11

Heat raises Mizzli, do bare this in mind. The bottom being open does not offer much relief.

 

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