Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 26, 2011

From: Kendallville, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Non-native mint invading flower beds in Kendallville IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A few years back we were given two sprouts of something referred to as peppermint tea. We planted in our flower bed and now it has taken over. It seems to start slow in the spring but doesn't take long to over grow all the other plants in the mix. When we try to remove it the "runners" pull up fairly easy but go on forever it seems. Can you please give us any hints on how to remove this invasive species so we can enjoy our plants again?

ANSWER:

When we went looking online for a plant called "peppermint tea," what we got were recipes for, well, peppermint tea. So, we looked at a couple recipes to see what plant they used, although we already suspected we knew. From wikiHow, here is how to make Peppermint Tea from scratch. And, from Adago Teas, here is a discussion of Peppermint.

The mints are various species of the genus Mentha and, like most plants referred to as "herbs," are native to the Mediterranean Basin. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. As you pointed out, mints are very invasive because of their roots spreading. Sad to say, anything you spray on them to kill them will be more likely to kill your other plants. The mints are somewhat protected by their extensive underground root structure which the poisons cannot reach. By the same token, freezing winter weather will probably not eliminate them. Most herb gardeners recommend that mints be confined to pots and trimmed back fairly severely often.

Your best chance is to pull them out and keep pulling them out. Start as early in the Spring as you can, watching for those leaves to begin popping up and get them out, getting as much root each time as you can. Theoretically, with no leaves above ground to produce nutrition for the roots, the roots will eventually starve. Theoretically.

Advice we would give to any gardener is to thoroughly investigate any plant before it is purchased or planted. The best way to eliminate an invasive plant is to never plant it.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Replacing non-natives and kudzu in Spartanburg SC
July 12, 2009 - I would dearly love to cut down the red tips and leland cypress, as well as the 2 Savannah hollies and 15 ft cleyera which the kudzu has overrun along my property line, get rid of a chunk of lawn and ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a non-native lucky bamboo plant
July 05, 2014 - I have gotten a lucky bamboo plant which is kinda large and want to transplant but don't know how can you help me?
view the full question and answer

Invasiveness of non-native Asian jasmine
June 18, 2007 - I have a lot of Asian Jasmine planted as groundcover in various beds. The last year or so it has become unruly and is now invading my St. Augustine, working its way into the lawn itself. Is there an...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock for non-native Plumbago auriculata
May 19, 2008 - I planted some full plumbago plants that were in containers, in a partially shaded area, they had beautiful flowers when I purchased them, but have since lost them all and the plant is looking very wi...
view the full question and answer

Care of a sedum indoors
December 16, 2007 - I have a coworker who has trusted her Sedum Burrito plant into my care because it is not doing well in her office. It appears to need repotting, as it is very crowded in the pot it came in and is dif...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.