Image by Tim Walker
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
While there are a number of uses for mint, invasive varieties, of which there are many, can quickly take over the garden. That’s why controlling mint is vital; otherwise, you may be left scratching your head and wondering how to kill mint plants without going crazy in the process.
Even with the less aggressive varieties, controlling mint in the garden is important. Other than placing barriers deep in the ground to prevent their runners from spreading, growing mint in containers is probably the best way to keep these plants under control.
Plant mint plants in bottomless containers that are sunk deep into the ground or grow them in large containers above ground. When sinking them in the ground, try to keep the container’s rim at least an inch or so above the soil. This should help keep the plant from spilling out into the rest of the garden.
How to Kill Mint Plants
Even under the best of situations, mint can become uncontrollable, wreaking havoc in the garden and driving gardeners to the edge. No garden lover enjoys killing plants, even mint. Invasive plants, however, oftentimes make this task a necessary evil. While it’s difficult to kill mint, it is possible but keep in mind that “patience is a virtue.”
There are several ways to kill mint without the use of harmful chemicals, which should always be a last resort. Many people have had luck using boiling water to kill mint. Others swear by using a homemade mixture of salt, dish soap and white vinegar (2 cups salt, teaspoon soap, gallon vinegar). Both methods will require frequent applications onto the mint over some time in order to kill it. Be aware that these methods will kill any vegetation that it comes in contact with.
If you still have problems, try covering the mint with thick layers of newspaper, followed by a layer of mulch to smother it out. Those plants that still manage to find a way through can usually be pulled up easily.
When all else fails, grab the Round-up. While diluting this solution is often recommended, using the full strength may be more effective when trying to kill mint. If you do not feel comfortable using chemicals to kill mint, your only option may be to get a good shovel and dig it all up. Be sure to get under the plant’s main root system. Then bag it up and dispose of it or relocate the mint in a suitable container.
Mint is well known for getting out of hand in the garden. Controlling mint through container gardening often helps; however, you may have to consider other tactics to kill mint if this plant becomes unruly.