Growing Mint: Is It Invasive?

Mint is one plant that stirs the pot on social media! Recently, I’ve come across several reels and posts expounding on the horrors of this plant and how you should never plant it in your garden. It’s usually labeled as an invasive, and there are stories of it traveling through neighbors’ yards, through cracks in the sidewalk, and into the woods! That said, many people enjoy growing and using mint. It’s a beautiful herb with wonderful flavor and medicinal properties. In this post, we’ll discuss how to grow mint without it taking over your property.

Is Mint Invasive?

Yes, it can be invasive. Specific types of mint, like culinary mint (Mentha spp.), tend to be aggressive spreaders. Some mint species, like the aforementioned culinary mint, are considered weeds in some states.

While mint can outcompete many of your garden plants and will happily take over disturbed areas like vacant lots and pastures, you generally won’t find it creeping into native forests. Usually, when we think of invasive species, we think of species that readily outcompete our native plants in their natural habitats, like kudzu with its long vines climbing over and killing trees in its quest for the most sun. Mint is not invasive to the degree that kudzu is. 

Mint can be controlled, and we’ll discuss how to do that below. Certain species in the mint family are less aggressive. Also, some mints may spread readily but aren’t considered invasive in the same sense because they’re native to the United States.

Controlling Mint

Many mints can spread through seed and creeping roots. This double reproduction is one of the features that allows mint to spread so effectively. There are a few things we can do to prevent this spread. 

Many folks recommend growing mint in containers, and this is a great option! Mint makes a beautiful patio or porch plant. It tolerates full sun or partial shade, and there’s some evidence that some mint species may repel insects like mosquitoes. 

Growing mint in a small seperate bed is also a good option. If your bed is surrounded by grass, it’s easy to keep it mowed short around it and prevent the mint from spreading. Alternatively, you can hand-pull any escapees. Raised beds with solid bottoms can further eliminate spreading issues. Cut mint before it goes to seed to prevent it from self-sowing in other areas of your garden.

You can also plant mint in less-than-ideal habitats. Generally, mint doesn’t do well in very hot, dry spots. It will be much easier to manage where conditions are unfavorable.

Mint Varieties

As I mentioned above, not all mint species are as aggressive as culinary mint. Do your research before you plant a mint family species. While most mints can be used for culinary and medicinal preparations, their fragrance, flavor, and benefits may vary widely. Some mints are also more ornamental, and you will find variations in appearance and growth habits.

American Wild Mint
Mjhuft, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

American Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)

American wild mint is native to most of the United States and much of Canada. It’s an excellent, native aromatic herb that puts on masses of tiny, purplish flowers in later summer. The flowers are a great source of pollen and nectar for native pollinators. Don’t let the fact that it’s native fool you; this mint can spread just as aggressively as the non-native species.

Anise-Hyssop (Licorice Mint)Anise-Hyssop or Licorice Mint (Agastache foeniculum)

This beautiful herb is native to the North-Central US and is cherished for its ornamental beauty and versatile uses. It offers a unique flavor for tea or culinary use, has medicinal properties, and is great for bees. 

Anise-hyssop will self-seed, and new patches may pop up, but it doesn’t tend to spread as aggressively as culinary mint.

HyssopHyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Hyssop is a beautiful semi-evergreen sub-shrub or large herb with stunning purple flowers. It has a strong flavor and a camphor-like odor, and it’s often used to season poultry. It doesn’t share culinary mint’s strong, aggressive tendencies.  

CatnipCatnip (Nepeta cataria)

This mint can be used medicinally or to amuse your cat. Note that only about 2 out of 3 cats are amused! The remainder, who do not have the dominant gene for this response, are bored by this plant. Catnip spreads some but doesn’t tend to creep as aggressively as culinary mint.

Lemon BalmLemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm resembles culinary mint and can be an aggressive spreader. True to its name, it offers citrusy, lemon-scented foliage rather than the classic mint smell. Lemon balm is widely used as an herbal tea. 

MintMint (Mentha sp.) 

This is culinary mint, the king mint of spreading. It’s excellent at reproducing through its creeping roots. It’s a hardy, aromatic herb with good flavor for tea and culinary use. 

Note that mint grown from seed produces plants that vary widely in flavor and appearance, from spearmint to menthol mint to peppermint. We recommend sowing it in pots and transplanting your favorite plants. 

White HorehoundWhite Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) 

Horehound is another aggressive spreader. Its pleasant fragrance, menthol-like flavor, and medicinal benefits make it a popular choice for lozenges and candies.


The mints are hated by some for their aggressive tendencies and beloved by others for their incredible fragrance and hardiness. If you’ve always wanted to add mint to your garden, you needn’t give up the idea entirely, just because it may spread. Try some of our control tips and select the right mint for your garden to enjoy these fun herbs.

Viral Trend: Chaos Gardening

If you spend time browsing gardening sites or scrolling TikTok and Instagram, you may have noticed a trend: chaos gardening. This gardening style is touted as easy, affordable, and environmentally friendly, and all you need to do is toss some seeds. What’s not to love? In today’s post, we’ll explore chaos gardening, its pros and cons, and how to practice it in your garden.

What is Chaos Gardening?

Chaos gardening is a carefree style in which the gardener randomly throws seeds over their selected space. You can use flowers, vegetables, herbs, or perennials and mix them together. There’s no planning a layout or careful seed sowing; just give them a fling!

The idea of chaos gardening is to ditch the idea that lawns and gardens must be highly organized and maintained. You can create a beautiful, full-looking garden without a lot of work or amendments.

Obviously, in this gardening style, some plants do much better than others. Proponents of this garden style enjoy the surprise and thrill of what thrives rather than planning for certain crops. This also means that they don’t use a lot of resources, like water, in dry parts of the country to keep plants alive that just aren’t thriving.

RudbeckiaDoes Chaos Gardening Work?

Yes, chaos gardening does work, but as we mentioned above, some plants will do much better in this style than others. If your goal is large heads of broccoli or killer slicing tomatoes for sandwiches, this may not be the right style for you. Maybe you can try it in one bed or section. 

Here are some of the great things about chaos gardening as well as some of the issues with it:


  • It can take the stress out of garden planning and layout.
  • It can be a great way to support pollinators.
  • You can use up old seeds.
  • These gardens don’t require maintenance. 
  • It may help with pest issues.
  • You can rewild part of your lawn.
  • You can use this style to create pollinator strips within a vegetable garden.


  • It is less productive for certain crops, particularly vegetables.
  • You may still feel the need to weed, and it can be challenging to distinguish plants.
  • You still need to do solid soil prep work. 

Generally speaking, chaos gardening works, but you need to be okay with less production and a garden that tends more toward a wildflower meadow than a vegetable patch.

How to Chaos Garden

While chaos gardening is usually advertised as less work, it’s important to remember that there’s still plenty of work to be done outside of sowing to ensure your plants thrive. Work begins with the soil. 

Choose an area that gets plenty of sun unless you’re working with shade-tolerant seeds. Then, you’ll need to prepare a bed and keep it free of weeds and grass. I always like to add a couple of inches of finished compost. 

Once your soil is prepared, you can begin sowing your seeds. Chaos is the name of the game here, so give them a toss! 

If you have a lot of larger seeds, like cucumber or bean seeds, for best results, I recommend sowing them first and then scattering some compost over top of them. Then, you can move on to the finer seeds, like poppies and dill.

After you sow all of your seeds, you should walk on them to press them into the soil. This will help them stay moist and improve your germination rate. For best results, water them in and then keep a consistent watering schedule, at least until all of your plants are established. 

Peruviana Red Zinnias
Peruviana Red Zinnias

What Seeds Should I Use?

Native species and wildflowers for pollinators are good choices because they generally perform well in this gardening style and have ecological benefits. Don’t let that limit you, though. You can try chaos gardening with any seeds you have on hand. Of course, some seeds will perform better than others.

Chaos gardening can also be a helpful way to use up extra seeds or seeds that are years old and have less-than-ideal germination rates.

Note that aggressive spreaders and invasive varieties should be avoided. Before seeding, consider what’s appropriate for your areas. 

If you want to purchase seeds for a chaos garden, here are some crops that chaos gardeners like to use and a few we think are well-suited to this style:

  • Rudbeckia
  • Echinacea
  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Cleome
  • Calendula
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Cosmos
  • Bee Balm
  • Phlox
  • Carrots
  • Looseleaf Lettuce
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes
  • Everglades Tomatoes
  • Peruviana Red or Peruviana Yellow Zinnias
  • Long Island Mammoth Dill
  • Bread Seed Poppies
  • Sunflowers
  • Cucumbers
  • Chamomile
  • Amaranth
  • Cilantro
  • Creasy Greens (Upland Cress)
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Parsley
  • Yarrow

These all tend to be sturdy, easy-to-grow crops that tolerate a bit of crowding and weed pressure.

Do I Need to Tend My Chaos Garden?

After seeding, how much work you put into your chaos garden is up to you. Some growers try to pick out any weeds or do a bit of thinning, while others are entirely hands-off. One of the great things about this style is that you will probably still get some flowers and other crops even if you don’t have time for a traditional garden. 

Chaos gardening can be a fun way to use up old seeds, rewild parts of your lawn, support pollinators, and grow a mix of crops. We’re not saying you should give up on your traditional garden, but if you’ve got some lawn to get rid of or a little space you can’t decide what to do with, give chaos gardening a try!

Red Clover: A Cover Crop & Herb

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is an herbaceous biennial plant native to Europe that has naturalized throughout North America. While some consider red clover a weed, herbalists, and gardeners recognize its value. This beautiful plant is excellent for soil and human health. Here are some of the reasons we’re big fans of red clover and how we use it. 

Red Clover as a Cover Crop

Red clover is a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. It’s an excellent choice for adding green manure to build up soils and a good nectar source for some pollinators. You can sow it in fallow fields, pathways, and small openings to help suppress weeds. 

You can sow red clover in early spring, late summer, or fall as a winter cover crop. It can be a little slow to establish, so sow clovers at least 40 days before your average first frost.

Consider using buckwheat as a nurse crop if you’re sowing red clover during the hotter months. The clover will grow slowly under the buckwheat until fall frost kills the buckwheat, allowing the clover to establish quickly without the need for fall tilling.Bumblebee on a red clover blossom

Red Clover in Herbal Medicine

I’m not a doctor. This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician or clinical herbalist before using herbal remedies to treat any condition. 

Herbalists have used red clover for centuries to treat a wide range of conditions, from menopause to whooping cough. Many of its uses revolved around female health. Modern science is beginning to explore the properties of plants, including red clover. While further research is needed, red clover tea and tincture may have a few potential benefits.

Benefits of Red Clover

  • Red clover contains phytoestrogens, which can mimic estrogen in the body.
  • Red clover may reduce osteoarthritis symptoms related to menopause. A 2015 study of 60 women found that taking red clover extract over 12 weeks reduced bone mineral density loss in the spine.
  • In another study of 109 postmenopausal women, participants reported skin and hair texture improvements after taking red clover extract for 90 days.

Further research is needed in all of these cases. Don’t use red clover if you have a hormone-sensitive condition like breast cancer. 

Harvesting and Using Red Clover

Beyond its health benefits, red clover is also just an enjoyable herb to use. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible. Some of you may remember pulling the pink blossoms from the flowerhead and eating them as a kid. 

The leaves, which have a mild bean-like flavor, can be added to salads. The blossoms, which are sweet, can be used in tea, baked goods, or salads. It’s best to break them up or pull the tubular flowers from the flowerhead, as whole flowerheads can be dry and tough to chew.

Harvest leaves and flowers that look fresh and are free from dried, brown spots. Remember to leave some blooms for the pollinators, especially if you’re harvesting from wild patches.

Three glasses of summertime herbal iced tea with red cloverRed Clover Tea

Making red clover tea is simple: Pour about 2 cups of boiling water over about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh or dried red clover blossoms and let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also let it cool and pour it over ice to make a fun summertime herbal iced tea. 

Red clover mixes well with other flavors. Feel free to experiment with adding lemon balm, mint, white clover, chamomile, or orange slices to the mix and sweeten with honey or maple syrup to taste.

Red Clover Tincture

Using the folk method, you can make a basic red clover tincture with fresh or dried red clover blossoms. All you need is a few simple ingredients and some patience. 

You simply place the blossoms in a glass jar and cover them with 80-proof alcohol. Then, keep the tincture somewhere dark for 2 to 6 weeks, shaking it once a day. After this period, you can strain it and begin using it.

Be sure to check out our complete instructions for Folk Method Tinctures.

Red clover is a fun herb to grow and use. Try growing it as a cover crop in your garden this season and enjoy its many soil health, culinary, and herbal benefits. 

Saving the Past for the Future