Should I Cut Mint Runners? The Surprising Benefits of Pruning Mint Plant

mint runner plants

Mint, with its refreshing aroma and versatile uses in the kitchen, is a favorite among gardeners. However, anyone who has grown mint knows that it can quickly become unruly, spreading its runners far and wide.

Have you ever wondered if you should cut mint runners or just let them grow wild? Pruning mint plants might seem counterintuitive, especially if you love the lush, green look of your herb garden. However, cutting mint runners can actually benefit your plant in surprising ways. 

In this article, we’ll look at why pruning is key for mint plants. We’ll see how it boosts growth and the benefits of a well-pruned mint plant. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to keep your mint thriving and more productive.

Understanding Mint Runners

green foliage mint plant grow

Mint plants propagate through runners, also known as stolons, which are horizontal stems that grow above or below ground. These runners can produce new roots and shoots at nodes, allowing the mint plant to spread rapidly and cover large areas. 

This aggressive growth habit is great for quickly establishing a mint patch. But, it can also lead to overcrowding and resource competition.

Why Cut Mint Runners?

Cutting mint runners is a crucial practice for several reasons:

  1. Control Growth and Spread: Mint can quickly overrun a garden bed if left unchecked. Cutting runners can stop the plant from spreading where it’s not wanted. This ensures it stays in its space. This is especially important in small gardens or container gardens where space is limited.
  2. Promote Healthy Growth: Pruning mint encourages the plant to focus its energy. It makes it produce more foliage and roots instead of runners. This leads to a bushier, more robust plant with an abundance of flavorful leaves. Healthy growth also reduces the likelihood of diseases and pest infestations.
  3. Improve Air Circulation: Removing extra runners helps air flow around the mint plant. Good air flow reduces the risk of fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, which can thrive in dense, humid environments. A well-pruned mint plant is less susceptible to these issues, leading to a healthier garden overall.
  4. Enhance Flavor and Aroma: Regular pruning, including cutting back runners, stimulates new growth. The young, tender leaves produced after pruning are often more flavorful and aromatic than older, tougher leaves. This means your culinary creations will benefit from the freshest and most vibrant mint possible.
Also read: Here’s When and How to Prune Allamanda Plant (Easy Guide)

How to Prune Mint Runners

Pruning mint runners is a straightforward process, but a few tips can help ensure you do it effectively:

  • Use Sharp Tools: Always use clean, sharp scissors or garden shears to make clean cuts. This reduces the risk of damaging the plant or introducing diseases through jagged wounds.
  • Timing: The best time to prune mint is during the growing season, from spring through early fall. Regular pruning every few weeks keeps the plant in check and encourages continuous growth.
  • Cut Close to the Base: When cutting runners, trim them back close to the base of the plant. This prevents new shoots from forming at the nodes along the runner, effectively controlling the spread.
  • Dispose of Runners Properly: Mint runners can take root quickly, so it’s important to dispose of them properly. Composting them or discarding them in a way that prevents re-rooting ensures they won’t become a problem elsewhere in your garden.

Table: Benefits of Cutting Mint Runners

Growth ControlPrevents mint from spreading uncontrollably
Healthier PlantsEncourages bushier, more robust growth
Improved Air CirculationReduces risk of fungal diseases and pest infestations
Enhanced FlavorStimulates new growth for more flavorful and aromatic leaves

Additional Tips for Healthy Mint Plants

In addition to cutting runners, several other practices can help maintain the health and vigor of your mint plants:

  • Regular Watering: Mint prefers consistently moist soil but not waterlogged conditions. Ensure your mint gets regular watering, especially during dry spells, to keep it thriving.
  • Fertilization: Mint is not a heavy feeder. But, occasional feeding with balanced fertilizer can promote healthy growth. Organic compost or a slow-release fertilizer works well.
  • Sunlight: Mint grows best in full sun to partial shade. Ensure your mint gets at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily for optimal growth.
  • Pest and Disease Management: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and spider mites, and treat infestations promptly. Regular pruning and good air circulation can help prevent diseases.
Read: Cutting Back Alyssum Plant: Step By Step Trimming Guide
How & Why To Prune Mint

The Benefits of a Well-Pruned Mint Plant

A well-pruned mint plant not only looks better but also performs better. Here are some additional benefits you can expect from regular pruning:

  • Increased Yield: Pruning can lead to a higher mint leaf yield. It does this by encouraging new growth. This gives you more leaves to harvest for cooking and medicine.
  • Longer Growing Season: Longer Growing Season: Pruning can extend your mint plant’s productive life. It lets you enjoy fresh mint for more of each year.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: A neatly pruned mint plant adds to the visual appeal of your garden. It looks more organized and less chaotic, enhancing the overall aesthetics of your garden space.
  • Easier Maintenance: Keeping mint plants well-pruned makes them easier to manage. You’ll spend less time dealing with overgrown plants and more time enjoying the benefits of fresh mint.


Cutting mint runners is essential. It’s key for any gardener who wants a healthy, productive, and good-looking mint patch. You can gain the benefits of a well-maintained mint plant by controlling its spread, promoting robust growth, and improving air flow. 

You may use mint in recipes, as a drink addition, or for its medicine. Pruning it ensures top-quality leaves.

Embrace the practice of cutting mint runners and watch your mint plants thrive. Not only will you have a more manageable garden, but you’ll also enjoy the freshest, most flavorful mint possible. Happy gardening!

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