Nepeta cataria aka catnip
C.L. Fornari is a speaker, writer, radio talk show host and gardening consultant
gardening, speaking, lectures, writer, plants, annuals, perennials, shrubs, garden advice, gardens, Cape Cod, radio, gardenlady, garden lady
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Nepeta cataria aka catnip

Nepeta cataria aka catnip

Name:   Nepeta cataria aka catnip

Type of Plant:   A generally short-lived perennial that can self-seed and naturalize in full sun gardens.

Why I Love/Hate this plant  I don’t love this plant, but I do like it. Not for its flowering or wonderful appearance, but for its willingness to grow without any effort on my part. And because it’s fun to give to my cat-loving friends. It’s drought tolerant and easy to grow from seed. If you have a cat or are interested herbal medicines, you might want to plant this in an herb garden or out-of-the-way sunny spot where it can roam about.

Catnip has long been used for making herbal tea, and some people use it as a culinary herb because of its minty flavor. You can also use catnip as an ingredient in potpourris, but beware that felines will attack that potpourris bowl if it’s where they can get it!

A Word to the Wise: I haven’t found this plant to spread profusely in my gardens, but in some areas it can seed as much as lemon balm. So use your judgement about whether you want this in your landscape. Those who want to grow catnip for their pets, but don’t have much space, might want to put a plant in a pot and then harvest it before it goes to seed.

Read more about why cats love catnip here.

I planted catnip in my trial garden about ten years ago and every year two to four plants come up in the same area. They wander a bit, and aren’t overwhelming, so I let a couple stay.

My grandson’s cat loved the sprig we gave her, although I understand that a few cats don’t respond to this herb.

Like all members of the mint family, catnip has square stems.

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