Mint thunderdome- or why mint must always be contained

This is my mint thunderdome. It’s 5 interesting varieties of mint in a nice 18 inch diameter terra-cotta pot. The varieties are clockwise from the bottom left: strawberry mint, orange mint, chocolate mint, red stemmed peppermint; with the center being occupied by Roman mint. Basically I went to my local garden center and chose the most interesting and fragrant mints I could.

But why in a pot? Easy- mint (likes to spread. It doesn’t just grow up like most herbs, instead it also grows sideways and underground. It throws up these tendrils, both at the surface of the soil and burrowing deep underneath it, creating a network of roots and runners that are almost impossible to remove. In fact- despite being contained in mint thunderdome, the orange mint is trying to escape as seen in figure 2

See where the mint thunderdome is now was the spot of one of my original raised herb beds, a simple shallow circular affair that lasted for years until it just had to be replaced. I had a few mint plants in there which was a huge mistake, as the spearmint and apple mint was no longer growing just within the confines of the bed, but also around the bed and confusingly several feet away under the lemon tree- because mint never gives up. It also was choking out some nearby parsley, having grown in between the neighboring herb.

When I replaced the full sun herb bed with a much nicer and deeper cedar affair, the roots of the mint I had to remove were massive- many many yards long, and it took me almost as much time ripping up the mint as it did taking everything else out and putting together the new bed. I love mint, and I use it a lot for tea, but I had learned my lesson- mint belongs in a pot. Conceivably if you wanted a raised bed that was only mint- as mint will bully other plants, you could do it- but only if you put the bed on concrete or pavers so that it can’t burrow beneath and escape. But even after all that work- some apple mint still lives…

I give up.

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