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Garden Q&A: How to grow mint plants

For The Baltimore Sun

I want to plant mint, but I read that it multiplies quickly, becomes invasive and takes over. I want to take the right control measures, since I have a garden with other crops (lettuce, basil, greens) that I don't want compromised by mint. How do I grow something that can become invasive? In a container?

The accepted way to control mint is to grow it in a container. However, that’s not foolproof enough if you set the container on, or in, the ground. Mint roots can be very fine and, because of their aggressiveness, are the biggest problem. Roots will grow out of the bottom drainage holes. The plants could also spread from stems that flop over and root at the point where stem nodes touch soil. The way we recommend growing mint, and similar edible but invasive plants, is in a container, but on a deck or other non-soil surface. Remove any flowers before they can set seed. Alternatively, there are native mints, such as mountain mint, which are minty, not aggressive and great for pollinators.

My plum crop looks good this year. There are so many I’m wondering (as the branches droop lower) if I should pull off some in the big clusters.

This is the time to thin fruit crops. Unthinned fruit will be small, and can spur trees to go into biennial bearing. Then you’ll only get a crop every other year. On apple, pear and plum, remove 20 percent to 50 percent of the set fruit. So, for instance, in a cluster of four plums, remove two. For peaches and nectarines, thin so you have a fist’s distance between fruits. This also improves air circulation to keep down disease. After you thin, you’ll see the remaining fruit increase in size rapidly. And, you won’t have to worry about branches breaking under a heavy fruit load.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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