DuaneBarry
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Growing mint

Hello fellow gardeners,

I'm new at gardening and trying to grow mint is my first experience ever. I transplanted two small mint seedlings to a vase and I'm trying to grow it at home. I've a small apartment in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, there's no balcony or anything like that, but I've plenty of sunlight in the morning. So I keep the vase near the window and hope for the best.

The seedlings I transplanted had some black leaves and branches which I figured were from the plant not getting any water for the whole day in which they were bought. I trimmed some of the black leaves before transplanting, but not all. The vase I transplanted them to has one layer of expanded clay, one layer of sand and one layer of fertilized black dirt.

Now, about a week after being transplanted, they still have some black leaves. They look dehydrated, burnt even. I've no idea what that could be and if it's harmful to the healthy leaves. I've one hypothesis, though: when everybody's out of the apartment, the windows usually stay completely shut and it gets very hot inside, almost like a greenhouse. Could that cause the black dehydrated leaves?

Also, this morning when I was watering I noticed that whenever I watered or turned the dirt, some very small, almost microscopical, translucid, fly-like insects would come out of the dirt. And although they had small wings, they wouldn't fly, but would run very fast to find a place to hide. Do you guys have any idea of what they could be? And are they harmful to plants or human beings?

I'm sorry for the long text. Any response will be greatly appreciated.

PS: Here's a photo of the black leaves.

[img]https://img31.imageshack.us/img31/4678/foto0007pn.jpg[/img]

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GardenRN
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Well to start, the parts of the leaves that have died will not come back to life. You can trim those the rest of the way off. They aren't helping the plant. The heat shouldn't really bother them. I have very hot summers here in Va and all of my mint did fine, and I have 4 different kinds. I don't know what type of bugs you were talking about but something tells me they're not the culprit. I have a sneaking suspicion you may be watering too often. Being inside they probably only need to be watered every few days or so. How often are you watering? How much? How much fertilizer did you use? Maybe you burnt some of the roots by accidentally using too much.

Overall the plant doesn't look that bad. I think you may just be guilty of babying it a little too much. :) something we're all guilty of from time to time. If you could get a picture, or find one on the web of the insects you are talking about that might help. Welcome to the forum!

Sorry I couldn't offer more help!
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

DuaneBarry
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So, should I trim all the leaves with black bits? I'm watering them everyday, in the morning. I wouldn't be able to quantify how much water I'm using, though. Enough to get the dirt pretty wet, almost a bit drenched, I'd say. How much should I use? About the fertilizer, I've no idea. I've bought the dirt ready to go, with fertilizer already mixed in and there's no specification of quantity in the package. :(

I'm probably babying it too much, as you said. I'm constantly checking over to see if there have been any changes. :)

What are some general guidelines I could follow to have my mint growing healthy?

Thanks so much for answering so quickly. Any help is appreciated. I'm sure I can learn a lot from you and maybe someday have 4 different kinds of mint myself :D

PS: I'll try to take pictures of those sneaky bugs. Tried an online search but it got me all kinds of results but the one I was looking for.

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rainbowgardener
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The little bugs would be fungus gnats. If you type that into the Search the Forum Keyword box you will find lots of information here about them and what to do about them. As Jeff noted, the presence of the fungus gnats is probably a sign of too much moisture and not enough air circulation. Every day watering is too much. Give the soil a chance to dry out a little in between. If you are drenching it so that the water runs out the bottom (you do have drainage holes, right?), once a week watering is probably plenty.

Your mint does look pretty ok. In my experience at the best of times mint tends to get some discolored leaves like that, but it doesn't really harm the plant as long as most of the leaves are ok.

Mint doesn't need much fertilizer. If it is in potting soil with added fertilizer, it shouldn't need anything else for at least the first three months. Too much water and fertilizer will result in lots of big lush growth with very little flavor/ fragrance. If you want it to be more minty, you need to keep it a bit lean. You will have a smaller, but much more fragrant plant.
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DuaneBarry
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Thanks for the reply. I'll read about the fungus gnats, as you suggested. So, if the problem is moisture, merely watering them less would solve it? How much water would you suggest I use on a 13 inches rectangular vase?

DuaneBarry
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So I probably should change my vase. It's only 4'' deep and with the layer of expanded clay and the layer of sand, the dirt layer is only about 2'' deep. I'll see if I can transplant it to a deeper vase soon. What should be my concerns when transplanting it?

I do have drainage holes on the vase but the water never got so bad as to start leaking from it. As a matter of fact, I've never seen it come out. Is that bad?

Should I trim all the leaves with black bits when transplanting it?

Thanks everyone for the replies!

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GardenRN
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Trim off the dead and dying leaves. Water it with the same quantity you have been, just wait longer in between waterings. If the plant even starts to wilt just a little from drying out that's ok. It'll perk right back up when you water it again. Too much water leads to bugs, fungus, rotted roots and unhappy plants. Back off to watering once a week and see how she does. You could try the old toothpick trick. Stick a wooden toothpick in the dirt. If soil sticks to the toothpick when you pull it out, it's still moist enough. Just like baking a cake.
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

DuaneBarry
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Loved the toothpick trick, Jeff! I'll do that from now on, thanks for the help. Do you think I should transplant it to a deeper vase? Here's a picture of the current vase, alongside a 12'' ruler:

[img]https://img202.imageshack.us/img202/6017/foto0005ve.jpg[/img]

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GardenRN
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That looks like a lot of mint for that small planter. Mint plants get fairly large. I think b the end of the summer mine were about 2 feet tall and 18" wide each. I would separate them, each into their own pot. Try to find pots about 12" tall and maybe 10" wide at the top. I don't know how things are done downthere in Rio, but here, a lot of nurseries have a plastic pot recycling bin where you can also take from the pile. Just ask at your garden center and they may have some for you.

Just curious, are you in Rio with the military? (probably marines) Or are you originally from Brazil? Judging by your typing, I would guess Portugese is not your first language.
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

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PunkRotten
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As long as the roots are still healthy the plant will live. Even if you cut all the branches and leaves off. My experience with mint is it needs to have its roots moist but not saturated with water. Try not to let it completely dry out, if a day goes by it is ok but don't let it go long periods like that.


Mint can grow in shadier locations. I have one that only gets like 2 hours morning sun and rest of the day shade and it grows fine. Also you need a bigger pot. Mint has a huge rootball and needs lots of space. In the set up you have now the plant will grow stunted and maybe even die.

DuaneBarry
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Thanks again for all the replies. I'll see to it that the plants are transplanted to bigger, deeper pots, separately. Is there any advice you'd give me on how to properly transplant them? Should I keep the layers of expanded clay and sand beneath the dirt?

As to your curiosity, Jeff: I am originally from Brazil. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. "Carioca da gema", as we say here. Even though I started learning English early on (at age 10, if memory serves) Portuguese really is my first language. So, I'll take your comment as a compliment! :D

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GardenRN
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DuaneBarry wrote:As to your curiosity, Jeff: I am originally from Brazil. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. "Carioca da gema", as we say here. Even though I started learning English early on (at age 10, if memory serves) Portuguese really is my first language. So, I'll take your comment as a compliment! :D
It would only be a compliment! :wink: My ex father-in-law was there with the marines for a few years, that's what made me curious.
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

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