Corsican Mint Not Thriving in Pots
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Ed Schneider
Posted on: August 18, 2004

I have had very poor results growing corsican mint. the two plants I received earlier this year have gone downhill and at present there is little alive in the two pots. They have not been overwatered. We tried placing the pots under fluorescent lights, in partial sunlight and in indirect sunlight. None of these has helped. Should we try outdoor planting? Do you have any hints?

Corsican mint likes rich evenly moist soil. "Evenly moist" means that the soil is not soggy wet for extended periods. If the drainage is good you won’t have a problem with soggy soil. Good drainage depends on there being adequate holes at the bottom of the pot for the water to escape (and the holes have to be free of obstructions such as stones) and a soil medium that doesn’t hold too much moisture. You cannot use ordinary garden soil for your pots because it won’t let excess water drain well enough. Most commercial potting soils are designed to drain well, a necessity because the pots restrict the movement of water more than the garden setting.

If the plants are still in their original pots that you got them in, then that could be part of the problem. The plants may have exhausted the nutrients in the soil or they may have become root-bound. It is a good idea to transplant into fresh potting soil.

If you had planted the mint outdoors in spring then it probably would have done better because the mint likes to dig its roots into fresh garden soil. But in southern Canada (where I believe you are located based on your email address) corsican mint is not winter hardy and has to be brought in before the winter.

Light could be a problem. In most indoor situations the light is simply not plenty enough to support good growth. Again, planting outdoors would support better growth.

Watering patterns can be a problem too. If you are an irregular waterer corsican mint will suffer from the occasional drying out. In pots this is a particular problem because the small soil mass dried out more readily than in the garden. Too much water is problem even if the drainage is good. What you want is for the soil to become dry to the touch between waterings -- but not bone dry to the point of causing the leaves to wilt.

Finally, corsican mint is susceptible to spider mites. If you are seeing many tiny white or pale yellow dots on the leaves and perhaps even tiny webs below the leaves and along the tiny stems then you probably have a mite problem. The solution is to apply insecticidal soap twice weekly for 3-4 weeks. It is best to immerse the plants, including the soil surface, in a pail or sink filled with an insecticidal soap solution. Safer’s is a well known brand of insecticidal soap (available from Richters). Again, outdoor planting probably would have prevented this problem where spider mites don’t thrive as well because of the more humid and cooler conditions.

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