Mint Companion Plants | Dos and Don’ts

Mint is an adaptable herb that enjoys full sun (with some afternoon shade) and well-draining soil. It will grow almost anywhere these basic needs are met, including places it’s not wanted.

While growing mint in the home garden is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth, there are still plenty of reasons to add this herb to your arsenal, plus with a little know how, it is easy to control. Not only is it incredibly versatile in a culinary sense but it can also benefit other plants growing close by.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the dos and don’ts of cultivating this popular herb, and share some great mint companion plants that might already be growing in your garden.

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a popular method of gardening that uses different plant combinations to deter pests, improve the soil, attract beneficial insects, and generally make the garden more productive. It’s commonly used in home vegetable gardens but is gaining popularity in all types of landscaping.

How to Companion Plant with Mint

Adding mint to your garden can offer a host of great benefits. Mint is most commonly used to deter pests thanks to its strong aroma and potent natural oils. Some gardeners also believe that growing mint will improve the flavour of other edible crops nearby.

In companion planting, avoiding ineffective plant partnerships is just as important as forming good ones. Mint can be problematic in some gardens since it spreads quickly and aggressively.

Tips for Growing Mint in the Herb Garden

Mint is a wonderful herb with lots of different uses but many people avoid it entirely for fear that it will choke out other plants. Here are some tips to prevent the mint from spreading uncontrollably:

Plant Mint in Pots: One of the best ways to control mint is by growing it in a separate pot. You can place this container near other plants for pest deterrence without worrying about the mint overtaking the rest of the garden.

Use Buried Containers: If you want to plant mint in an actual garden bed, I recommend planting it in a buried container. This will stop the roots from spreading. Leave 1 to 2 inches of the container’s rim exposed to keep the mint contained.

Install Landscape Barriers: Another option is to use a sturdy landscape barrier to separate the mint from the rest of the garden bed. This is also a good way to keep mint from escaping into your lawn.

Cut Back the Mint Regularly: Routine pruning will keep the mint from growing too big while also slowing down its spread. Harvest the mint often and don’t hesitate to take a large portion at a time. 

It’s important to cut back the mint before the flowers fade to prevent self-seeding. For large patches of mint, you can use a lawnmower.

Monitor and Act Quickly: Mint can spread through its root system or by seed. Keep an eye out and immediately remove any new mint sprouts that pop up where they shouldn’t be.

Best Mint Companion Plants

Mint will happily grow alongside a variety of veggies, flowering ornamentals, and even fellow culinary herbs. Here are my favourite companions and some of the benefits you’ll get by growing them with mint:

Vegetables

Rhubarb: Mint’s strong aroma can deter aphids and other pests that commonly feed on rhubarb foliage. The large leaves of a rhubarb plant also provide an excellent source of shade for the mint during midday.

Nightshades: Popular vegetables in the nightshade family include tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Planting mint alongside these vegetables can effectively deter common pests like aphids and spider mites.

Brassicas: The brassica family includes garden mainstays like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. All of these vegetables are good mint companions because the latter deters cabbage moths (Mamestra brassicae) and flea beetles (Disonycha spp.) that can wreak havoc on a brassica harvest.

Peas and Beans: Mint can help to deter aphids, which can be just as big of a problem for peas and beans as any other vegetable. However, I’ve also found that the pungent odour of mint dissuades rodents and other wildlife from feeding on the pods.

Carrots: Mint plants can help deter carrot root flies (Psila rosae) by covering up the scent of the carrots they like to feed on. Sowing carrots later in the season and planting mint as groundcover are two great ways to keep these pests at bay.

Squash: Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) are a major nuisance when growing zucchini and other forms of squash. There’s evidence that planting mint nearby can deter these and other pests from feeding on your squash leaves.

Lettuce: Aphids and other insects are a problem for lettuce since they feed on the foliage that we plant to eat. Growing aromatic plants like mint around lettuce can help disguise the leafy greens from would-be predators.

Onion and Garlic: Onion fly (Delia antiqua) larvae feed on onions and other bulbs in the garden. Some gardeners spray their onion plants with mint extract to deter the flies but you can also plant fresh mint nearby.

Radishes and Beets: Mint contains fragrant oils that mask the presence of root vegetables like radishes and beets from hungry insects. It can also be used as a ground cover to shade and insulate the soil around these vegetables.

Corn: Deer supposedly hate the strong smell of mint and will avoid it whenever possible. This is great news if you grow sweet corn at home and are looking for a way to keep the four-legged foragers away from your garden!

Other Herbs

Basil*: This popular herb thrives in similar growing conditions as mint. Basil may also help deter pests from feeding on your mint plants and vice-versa.

Oregano*: Oregano is another extremely pungent herb that can deter a variety of common pests. Planting it in addition to mint offers an extra layer of protection for nearby garden companions.

Cilantro*: Like mint, cilantro appreciates a bit of shade during the peak of the day. Grow these two herbs together in a spot with partial shade or beneath larger plants in the same garden.

Chamomile*: It’s long been believed that chamomile can improve the flavour and overall health of other herbs and vegetables growing nearby. I haven’t found solid research to back up these claims but there’s no harm in trying it for yourself. 

Chamomile also deters a number of pest species and attracts beneficial insects like pollinating bees, hoverflies, and predatory wasps.

Dill: Dill and mint share similar growing requirements, and larger dill varieties can protect mint plants from direct sunlight. Mint does tend to overtake dill in most gardens, however, so I recommend planting them side by side in separate containers. 

Parsley*: Parsley is one of the easier culinary herbs to grow (aside from mint) and pairs well with popular veggies like tomatoes and carrots. This is another herb I recommend growing close to mint but keeping in a separate bed or container.

Chives: Chives benefit from the natural pest-deterring properties of mint and even offer some of their own. This herb is a member of the onion (Allium) family, and planting mint nearby can help prevent onion fly damage.

chives and mint

Lavender*: Both lavender and mint benefit from the same type of sun exposure and well-draining soil. Lavender prefers much sandier soil, however, which may help keep the mint under control.

Sage*: Sage can be a good mint companion, especially if the goal is to deter pests while drawing in beneficial insects. These herbs thrive in nearly identical growing environments but should be separated to prevent the mint from taking over.

Thyme*: Mint’s scent can deter aphids and spider mites that enjoy feeding on thyme plants. Again, it’s best to grow these herbs independently of each other to stop the mint from spreading.

mint growing in a herb container garden

* Many common herbs can be either good or bad companions for mint depending on a number of factors. While these herbs share the same cultural needs as mint, they may compete for resources like water and soil nutrients and thus need a bit of extra care to grow well together. Keep this in mind when planning your herb garden this season.

Flowers

Roses: Mint readily deters aphids and ants which are common rose pests. You can plant mint as a groundcover around the base of roses but I much prefer growing it in pots placed nearby.

Marigold: Marigolds and mint work together to repel a variety of pests. While the benefits of marigolds in the garden are sometimes overblown, there is real evidence that the flowers extract a chemical that deters nematodes — a type of roundworm that often damages plant roots.

mint growing near marigolds
Marigolds are a popular companion plant choice for mint and other edibles

Nasturtiums: This edible flower is a trap crop for aphids, protecting more valuable plants growing nearby. Plant nasturtium with mint for a double dose of pest deterrence. 

Coneflower: Echinacea, otherwise known as Coneflowers make great companion plants for mint. These tough perennials attract pollinators and resist the most common pests. They hold their ground well against vigorous spreaders like mint.

Yarrow: Mint and yarrow make excellent companion plants as both are hardy perennials that thrive in well-draining soil. In addition, the unique flowers of yarrow attract beneficial pollinators and predatory insects.

Plants to Avoid Planting Near Mint

Mint is one of the easiest culinary herbs to grow in a home garden. It’s tempting to add mint to all of your garden beds to fill empty spaces and deter unwanted insects.

As you may already know, mint is a vigorous grower. The herb needs very little time to take over a patch of uncovered soil. I’ve even seen it invade turf lawns!

Another common problem with growing mint is that it hogs resources. This can make it hard for other nearby plants to thrive in its company.

For a happy and healthy garden, you should avoid planting mint near other groundcover plants that require a lot of breathing room. Strawberries are a common example that will suffer if grown alongside mint or its relatives. 

Many gardeners also advise against planting herbs like rosemary, chamomile, basil, and oregano in the same bed as mint. Mint tends to compete with these herbs for resources, which can interfere with the health and quality of both plants.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, why not jump over to Companion Plants for Peas for more growing advice?

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.