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Chat Leftovers: Mint in Winter

Another Wednesday, another Free Range Chat, when Food staffers try to address your culinary conundrums. Be there at 1, when we'll be joined by Tony Rosenfeld, who writes today about grilled summer soups.

As usual, last week we ran out of time before plowing through the entire crop of questions. Here's one we couldn't squeeze in. Our guest chatter Nancy Baggett left behind the answer:

Will my mint plants survive the winter in Nothern Virginia? I just got them this year and so far they are fine, but if they are going to die, I would like to bring them inside. Any advice greatly appreciated.

Nancy Baggett: Mints tend to be very hardy. In fact, they will often overrun the garden. (So I keep most of mine in pots.) Both the mints in the ground and those in foam pots normally live; the foam pots are a good insulator from the cold.

Pineapple mint and other variegated ones are the most tender and often don’t make it. I don’t think bringing them in works well: A better idea would be to put them in a sheltered spot outside, right next to the house.

The ones left in the ground should just be mulched; they will probably do fine.

By Jane Touzalin  |  September 2, 2009; 7:44 AM ET
 | Tags: Free Range  
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I now have a 3' x 2' patch of mint that started as a few clippings 10 years ago. Each winter it dries up and the next spring it comes back, usually in places I didn't expect to see it. Enjoy!

Posted by: sbainum | September 2, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I transplanted some blue-stemmed peppermint to my backyard, about 20 years ago. It is incredibly invasive: It's now half-surrounded the house (the other half is driveway). It comes back reliably every year, and often will remain green at least until Christmas. (This is in northern New Jersey.)

Lemon mint also has survived some 10 winters, although it hasn't spread much.

Spearmint came back for a few years, but then a tough winter seems to have done it in.

I usually bring in a pot of the "blue" mint, and while it gets ratty-looking by January, it's still better than going digging under the snow for a few leaves.

Posted by: heinpe | September 5, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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