Catnip Plant

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) may be a common herb that thrives in much of North America and is extremely easy to grow. While you’ve probably heard that catnip makes cats tipsy, you would possibly not know that this effect is an inherited trait and it doesn’t affect all cats.1

Catnip grows to a height of three to 4 feet and has featherlike, light green foliage and little clusters of lavender flowers that grow on spikes. A member of the Labiatae , catnip is additionally utilized in food and herbal remedies. for instance , tea made up of the leaves and flowers of catmint is claimed to alleviate coughs. The oil extracted from catnip plants is even utilized in natural mosquito repellents.

Catnip plants have naturalized in various parts of North America, and even where they’re not perennial, they’re going to likely reseed. In fact, many gardeners find catnip to be too weedy and too aggressive to grow it in their landscapes. This herbaceous perennial are often planted in spring or fall. it’s a quick grower and may reach 2 to three feet tall during a single season.

If you’re getting to grow catnip, for your cat or yourself, confine mind that there are differing types of catnip which all common types are invasive. this suggests they will take over your garden—even if they don’t take over your cat’s mind.2

Botanical NameNepeta cataria
Common NameCatnip, catmint
Plant TypeHerbaceous perennial herb
Mature Size2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeModerately rich loam or sandy, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic to alkaline (6.1 to 7.8)
Bloom TimeSummer and fall
Flower ColorWhite, lavender
Hardiness Zones3 to 9 (USDA)
Native AreaEurasia; widely naturalized elsewhere
ToxicityToxic to cats

How to Plant Catnip

Catnip is often planted in your garden in spring or fall, from seed or plants. it’ll sprout in two to 3 weeks if started from seed. curtailing the plants after the primary bloom set will allow enough time for it to completely regrow and bloom again.

Some species of Nepeta will opened up of control unless you’re taking measures to stay them from doing so.2 To contain and shape catnip plants, pinch them often while they’re growing to get dense, well-shaped plants. The plants also will reseed everywhere your property if you allow them to and you’ll have new plants arising in unexpected places for years to return to stop the plant from blooming, simply pinch off the highest of the plant when flowers start to make .

closeup of catnip blooming

To avoid damage from unwelcome neighborhood cats, consider protecting your catnip with some sort of enclosure. Insects and rodents aren’t a drag , and catnip doesn’t tend to suffer diseases.

catnip leaf detail

Catnip Care

Catnip plants do best full sun to partial shade and are drought-tolerant ground covers, making them an honest choice for sunny, dry areas where many other plants would struggle.


Like numerous herbs, this perennial thrives in poor soil that’s well-drained. Catnip plants aren’t very fussy about the bottom during which they grow, as long as their roots aren’t constantly sitting in water.2


Water catnip plants regularly, but take care to not overwater. Allow the soil to travel almost dry between waterings, then soak thoroughly.

Temperature and Humidity

Plant catnip in soil that registers a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. it’ll grow best in daily temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In hot, humid climates, it’s going to need some afternoon shade.


You do not get to feed catnip.

Is Catnip Toxic?

Most people associate catnip with its psychoactive effect on cats. The effect occurs when the leaves are eaten or when the plant’s fragrance is inhaled by cats. In fact, simply smelling catnip is usually enough to cause cats to react thereto , which is why you sometimes see them rolling in it. The resulting “drug trip” may be a reaction to the chemical nepetalactone. An inherited trait, just some cats have nepetalactone reactions. Likewise, it’s possible for cats to possess adverse reactions to catnip, possibly causing diarrhea or vomiting. this is often why the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists catnip as a toxic plant for cats.

Catnip vs. Catmint

Plant taxonomy classifies catnip plants as catmint . Note that the common name “catmint” is preferred within the U.K. it’s going to be tempting to use the 2 names interchangeably, but within the U.S., “catmint” typically refers to at least one of the decorative relatives of N. cataria. Fewer cats are interested in ornamental types. In any case, search for the scientific or botanical name when buying plants to make certain you get the proper sort of catnip.

Nepeta cataria: Preferred by cats; deer-resistant but attracts butterflies
Nepeta mussinii: Attractive ornamental plant that grows to about 1 foot tall; often used as a ground cover and also attracts butterflies
Nepeta x faassenii: Producesoval, intricately veined, gray-green leaves and abundant lavender flowers, from spring through autumn; not as invasive as other Nepeta species

Catmint / Catnip, Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' - II


Harvest catnip upon flowering, on a dry, sunny day. Late morning may be a blast to reap after the dew has dried but before the day heats up. stop the entire plant at the bottom, and hang it the wrong way up, as soon as possible, in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place, like an attic.

Store dried leaves, stems, and flowers in freezer bags to preserve the potency of the oil inside them. These steps help minimize the loss of the oil, which is that the stuff that creates your cat go wild.

How to Grow Catnip From Seed

Catnip seeds have tough coats, and you’ll improve the prospect of success by first stratifying the seeds. Place the seeds in a bag and keep them within the freezer for a month. Take them out and allow them to thaw, then freeze them again for an additional month. before planting, thaw the seeds in warm water overnight.

Sow the stratified seeds in pots one to 2 months before the last spring frost. Plant them about 1/4 inch deep within the seed-starting mix, and set them ahead of a sunny window. they ought to sprout in two to 3 weeks. Harden off the seedlings before planting them within the garden, spacing them 18 to twenty inches apart. you’ll also keep them in pots to grow indoors.

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