Mint Madness? Control herb growth in your garden

Rein in runners and obnoxious reseeders


Herb gardens are the source of simple, but elegant, scents and flavors for everything from soaps to soups. When dried, many herbs including lavenders, mints, and rosemary can be used as sachets to scent drawers, make teas, and flavor roasts. And the bonus is that many are extremely easy to grow.

When planning your herb garden, be careful. Some herbs, like borage, are "obnoxious reseeders." Others like ornamental basil or mint can spread throughout your garden beds and literally choke out other, less robust, herbs and plants. To counteract that tendency to run amok, plant herbs that might reproduce or spread prolifically in large terra cotta pots. You can arrange them together on a patio or sink the pots into the garden bed. In the fall, take the pot out of the ground and divide the plants. Repot the divided plants in fresh potting soil, then winter over in the greenhouse or on a sunny window sill. Keeping the plants corralled will prevent your mint from choking out your other plants.

Your climate and soil conditions will determine which herbs do so well they become pests and threaten your other plants. Under the right growing conditions, the following could take over your garden:

Bee balm
Lemon balm
Ornamental basil
Mint (most types)
Sweet Woodruff
Chinese lantern


The Complete Book of HerbsóRegardless of what your question is about herb growing, this volume probably contains the answer. It contains information on cultivation, harvesting, and use. Out of print, but still valuable.

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