Mint leaves can dry out if they are underwatered, if the leaves have suffered insect damage or if the weather is turning cold. Mint plants can dry out, their leaves can go crispy and die off over winter if you live in a cool climate.
The natural process of the mint plant going dormant over the winter is the main cause of the mint plant having dry leaves and dying off. There are easy ways to save and revive a mint plant with dry leaves. This article will explore the top reasons why mint leaves dry out and what you can do to save them.
Top reasons why mint leaves dry out
Here are the top reasons why the leaves on a mint plant dry out and what you can do to revive it for more green and delicious leaves.
Cold weather – Winter is coming
Mint leaves will go dormant in the cold weather. Mint plants will add lots of green leaf growth over the spring and summer months. When the weather starts to cool in fall and winter the plant will go dormant the leaves will dry and the stems will turn brown or black.
This is the natural process of the mint protecting itself from the cool weather. The stems can be trimmed 2-3 inches above the soil level and the healthy roots will stay protected under the soil.
Potted plants can be moved in a protected area away from frosts but plants in garden beds will be happy with a trim.
The biggest cause of drying mint plant over summer is underwatering. Mint plants are water loving plants and will grow large and green with regular watering. Mint plants grown in regions that get low rainfall in summer will need to bet topped up with water by you.
I like to water my mint every few days over summer to keep it green, growing new stems and avoid the leaves going dry. Any leaves that do dry out on a hot day can be trimmed off with scissors or secateurs and the plant will grow new leaves and stems to replace them.
Insect damage is the other main cause of the mint leaves drying out and eventually going brown. Mint leaves that are nibbled by caterpillars, slaters or grasshoppers will start to go brown as they no longer receive nutrients and water.
Leaves that are damaged will not recover so can be removed. It is best to avoid using the eaten leaves in cooking as they can be dry and flavorless.
While mint can suffer from bug attack I found that is grows so quickly that there is no point in treating the bugs. I just trim off any damaged leaves and the mint plant will grow back new leaves quicker than the bugs can eat them.
This keeps your mint pesticide free and organic for eating at home.
Another key cause of mint leaves drying out is poor soil. Mint grown in soil that is low in organic matter, does not drain well or is too sandy can cause mint leaves to dry out. Sandy soil will dry quickly and the mint will not absorb enough water to keep it healthy.
Mint grown in soil that holds too much water can experience overwatering as the moisture stays around the roots for too long causing them too rot. This will eventually lead to drooping leaves that dry and die off.
How to revive a dying mint plant
There are a few easy steps you can take to revive a dying mint plant before it dries and dies completely. Here are my top tips to save your mint plant before it dies.
Water it well for a week
For mint plants that have dry leaves because they are not getting enough water it is best to give it plenty of water for a week. Watering the plant each day for the first 3 days then every second day for another 4 days will help it to recover.
This will give the mint plant a flood of water and help it to quickly recover.
Prune the mint plant back
Trimming off damaged or dry leaves can give the mint plant the room to grow new fresh leaves. Leaves will sprout from the nodes on the mint stem to replace old leaves.
Removing dry leaves will give the plant more sunlight encouraging a new coverage of leaves. Old leaves will not recover so don’t worry about removing them.
Repot the plant into new soil
For mint plants that are suffering from poor soil conditions, particularly those in pots should be moved and new potting soil added. Mint is incredibly hardy and will respond well to being moved to a new pot.
You can take the healthy roots out of the soi, shake off the old potting mix and put it in a clean pot. Add new premium potting mix and water the plant well.
Place the mint plant in a protected area to recover. Placing it in part shade will help to keep it moist while it regrows new stems and leaves.
My mint leaves are drying out | Summary
Mint leaves can dry out on the plant if it underwatered, if it is planted in poor soil or if suffering from bug attack. Mint leaves will also go dry if the plant is about to go dormant in the cooler weather. This is a natural process and the mint plant will bounce back when it warms up.
Trim off any old, dry leaves and water the plant well until it recovers. A dormant mint plant will not look very attractive and you may only remember it is there when you see the small, brown sticks popping out from the ground.
In spring you will remember exactly where you planted mint as the whole space quickly fills with the healthy new leaves.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.