(Updates and observations) Ginger mint; Chinese kale; tea tree; butterwort; pitcher plant

First off, I’ll talk about growing plants permanently in semi-hydroponics and such, using my tea tree (and chocolate mint) as examples.

What I’ve noticed if one plants a plant using any sort of hydroponics method is that over time, the plant shows sign of deterioration, even though the roots can absorb minerals and water easily. While my chocolate mint planted in semi-hydro showed very lush growth for a few months, after that, a large part of the leaves constantly yellowed and dropped off. Stalks turned limp and brown for no reason (that I could discern). After a while, the plant started looking bad. Since the roots had grown down the twine and ended in a mass at the bottom of the bottle, I ensured that they got to breathe by not filling by the whole bottle with the solution. However, the roots started breaking off on their own like brittle hair.

The corn mint I planted in semi-hydro showed the same symptoms more quickly than the chocolate mint. This prompted me to quickly transferred all of them back to soil.

I suspect the reasons are these: 1) that the constant soaking in liquid to ensure the plant doesn’t dry out does more harm than good over the long term. Maybe it causes the roots to really rot (even though I don’t see them rotting); 2) that roots might need something firm to grip upon (like LECA bits or soil) to be healthy.

So, my conclusion: I’ll recommend hydroponics/semi-hydroponics for plants which you plan to grow on a short term basis before harvesting (like vegetables; not those like rocket which you can pluck and they continue growing, but those which you have to harvest the whole plant), and not on a long-term (say, more than six continuous months) basis.

Currently, my tea tree plantlets are growing healthy and strong in semi-hydro. However, I’m keeping a very close eye on them. In fact, I might just plant them into soil very soon.

Ginger mint

The only survivor out of the six. How sad. I transplanted the plug into a more well-draining mix of Tref potting mix with vermiculite, giving it adequate water and the morning sun. It’s looking good now, I hope.

Chinese kale

Seeds from SJ. Finally sowed them last week. I don’t know why, but there are weird things growing on the soil in all the pots. Don’t seem to be harming the seedlings yet. But will monitor.

Butterwort has been catching small insects lurking in my room. Good job!

Pitcher plant from May 2009 gathering being pudgy and cute.


Why and how should you prune your mint’s roots?

I offer this quote from a user named “sagedavis” from the Helpful Gardener Gardening Forum: “It did, somehow, make my potted mint grow way faster than I expected it to, and the roots basically strangled it out before I realized what was causing the death of the the mint, and obviously, before I decided it was time to transplant it.”
Do a CTRL + F and search for “mint”.

So anyway, I have a habit of pruning my plants’ roots anyway, especially for those that don’t mind major root pruning (such as mints), but I thought it’d be nice to explain why one should prune their plants’ roots anyway, especially if they’re grown in pots.

From what I understand, in pot-grown mints, there are two main kinds of roots: feeder roots, which draw nutrients upwards throughout the plant; and tap roots, to stablize the plant. In a pot, the roots are constrained, but they still continue to grow in the constrained area. Both types of roots grow, and over a period of more than a year, can fill up the whole pot so much that the root mass starts growing out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. In the pot itself, there is an extremely high chance that because it’s a total mess without any space to expand, so the roots become so tight and they “strangle themselves.” Nutrients and water are likely unable to reach the feeder roots easily, and the plant might die from dehydration and also nutrient deficiency also.

Since people are quite worried about harming their plants, I offer a simple pictorial guide in this post to show how I do it:

Step one:
Grab hold of all the stalks of your plant into one bunch. Hold them as close to their base as possible. Pull the whole clump gently out of the pot. Technically, your root ball should look much tighter and messier than the one shown in my picture before you prune it. But I prune my mints every nine months or so to encourage more vigorous growth, and to do a soil change for them.

Step two:
Take a pair of clean secateurs and cut between 30 to 40% of the lower root mass off (the part farthest from the stalks). I usually do a 50% cut, but for others who are not sure, I recommend a 30% prune.

(Step two-point-five):
Here are how each half looks like:

The bottom of the lower half.

Step three:
Fill your pot with fresh soil mix:

Step four:
Place your pruned plant gently onto the fresh soil, and firm it down. Fill up any gaps between the root mass and the pot, water your plant, and place it in an area with bright shade (not full sun) for a few days until you see the leaves perk up again, which shows that it has gotten over the shock to its roots.

(Mints) Some surviving

Some are growing new green shoots.

(Update) New mints

After a few days of really tender care, the two mojito mints have started putting out tiny new green shoots from the base of the main, dying stalk. Too early to rejoice, but at least there is some semblance of hope for these two.

The corscian mint is left with two miniscule stalks of green, so fragile. That’s a touch and go.

As for the rest…the thick stems in the soil still have quite some green in them. So I’m just hoping for the best and preparing for the worst with them…


I hope they survive. They’re all now sitting in a big tub with about three inches of water to replenish their thirst, and also placed in a shaded area for now.

(Mints) Slowly transferring

Washing my mints regularly now to get rid of the spider mites, and also snipping the strongest stalks for propagation, then planting them permanantly in semi-hydroponics like my chocolate mint is.

Now, my “moroccan” mint.

(Updates) Mints: a comparison

This post will be a pictorial comparison of how well (or badly) my mints have been growing for the past two to three months since April 2009.

Some new mints have been added recently. As such, those will have no comparison pictures.

(FYI: I’ve never excelled in my designing of templates or stuff. So the comparison pictures design is really rudimentary at best.)

Apple mint from Paragon

The apple mint still looks a little sad now because I’d just washed it (and all other mints) with soap suds and then rinsed it.

Basil mints

Growing like weeds. I’ve only been feeding them water and sunlight, honest. And the daily spray of diluted seaweed extract.

Chocolate mint

I love you, choc mint.

Eu de cologne mint

My original planter box of EDCs were given to my guy. Then my pot got infested with mites and died. The new one was given to me by my guy who rooted them.

Grapefruit mint

Still as weird as ever, this one.

Lavender mints

Growing VERY well. The one on the farthest left is grown in the semi-hydroponics system/water reservoir system.

(Supposed) Moroccan mint


Orange mints

These two pots bounced back very well from previous RSM attacks. Now, no RSMs bother them.

Variegated peppermint

No variegation at all. But growing pretty well.

Swiss mints

Another potential weed. XD

This is the type of typical mint you can find outside anywhere, at supermarkets or markets. People think it’s spearmint, but upon further research with a fellow friend, we have come to suspect it might be tashkentmint (spelling) instead. One of its leaves is growing almost as big as two of my fingers.

(Suspected) Black peppermint

From YK. I cleared his original one of RSMs and then propagated this pot back for him late last year, I think.

Various mints

From YK too. Think there’s the Isetan apple mint, EDC mint…

Unknown mints

Exchanges with someone.

Oh Chin Huat “peppermint”

Lemon mint from MCC during gathering.


My lemon eucalyptus now.

Previous Older Entries