I went to visit family and ended up staying much longer than I had expected. I came home and found my mint plant, like this — dead and drying up. Luckily the rest of the plants were fine, but the number 1 rule to mint is not letting it dry out. I think it's safe to say mine dried out. It was so dry in fact that the soil was pulling away from the edges of the container. If you're like me and you gage your effectiveness as a gardner as a reflection of your effectiveness in life in general, a sight like this can be pretty disheartening.
There's hope for us overly sentimental plant lovers yet. Once I cut back most of the dead parts, I noticed those little green springs popping up. Luckily, plants have adapted to survive and mint is especially hardy, but if you came home to this mess and left it unattended it would definitely die. These plants have adapted to be pruned, picked, and eaten by animals, so with out getting pruned and plucked it's more difficult for them to survive.
Here's what you'll need:
- It's probably your first instinct to run and get this plant some water. I'm like that too, but I've found it's to prune before I water so the stems are easier to cut. Then the water the plant needs goes to the new growth and not the part that's too far gone. What you'll do is, cut back the dead parts. On the mint plant new branches come from the base of the plant, so it's safe to prune way back, like down to 1". If your stems are dead like mine prune them all the way down to the greenest part you can find.
- After that water, I watered mine twice. You don't want to flood the roots, but they have been missing water for some time now. So, water once with two cups of water and return in it to the sunlight. Notice if the soil is expanding back to it's normal shape, size, and texture. If not, water again with two more cups of water. After this you can return it to it's normal watering schedule.
Here's mine after 3 days
Here it is after five days.
As you can see they're pretty resilient and will grow back quickly if you continue to care for them. Another tip is if your mature mint leaves look salvageable, you can put them in a bit of ice water for 30-60 minutes to plump them back up to use in cooking. Mine, were not salvageable. The ice bath made a little bit of difference, but not enough to make them good for cooking.