Nepeta cataria is the true catnip that is loved by house cats.
Although native to Europe and Asia, it has over time naturalized in many areas around the world, including much of southern Canada and the U. S.
Catnip typically grows in a spreading clump to 60-90 cm tall. Erect, branched, square, grayish stems are clad with aromatic, opposite, coarsely-toothed, triangular to ovate, gray-green leaves. Small, two-lipped, white (with pale purple spotting) flowers bloom in spike-like terminal clusters at the stem ends from late spring well into summer.
As a medicinal herb, catnip leaves have been used (fresh or dried) for making an herbal tea that reportedly helps reduce anxiety, induce sleep, promote perspiration (fever/cold relief), soothe sore throats (cough suppressant) and comfort upset stomachs. As a culinary herb, fresh leaves (minty flavor) may be chopped and added to soups, stews, sauces, vegetables, or pasta.
As a garden plant, catnip acts as a repellant for certain insects, including aphids and squash bugs. Nepetalactone is the active ingredient that affects most cats.
To harvest catnip, cut stems to the ground and hang them upside down to cure in a warm location with good air circulation. When leaves are totally dry, crumble them into bags for storage or use immediately for a variety of purposes including herbal teas, potpourris and cat toy fill.
Catnip is a vigorous and weedy mint family member that is easy-to-grow, but spreads easily and is not particularly noted for its ornamental qualities in the garden.
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Thrives in dry soils and is very tolerant of drought. Site plants in full sun in northern areas. Plants are somewhat intolerant of the heat and humidity of the deep South where they generally appreciate some afternoon shade.
Shear flower spikes after initial flowering to promote continued bloom. Easily propagated by division of established plants.
Wet soils in winter can be fatal. Easily grown from seed. Plants will self-seed in the garden, often profusely.
Information source: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org.
Genus - Nepeta
Species - Cataria
Common name - Catmint
Pre-Treatment - Not-required
Hardiness zones - 3 - 7
Height - 2-3' / 0,60 - 1 m
Spread - 2-3' / 0,60 - 0,90 m
Plant type - Perennial Herb
Exposure - Full Sun, partial shade
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Acid, neutral and basic (alkaline)
Soil type - Clay, loam, sand, well drained
Water requirements - Average, drought tolerant
Landscape uses - Borders, path edging, cottage gardens or herb gardens. Good for dry areas. Containers. Grow as an ornamental, for herbal use and/or for your cat.
Bloom season - May to September
Leaf / Flower color - Green / White with pale purple spotting
1. Sow from January to April in trays of moist compost.
2. Sow thinly and cover with a fine layer of compost. Cover with glass, polythene or propagator lid.
3. Keep at 20+C. Seedlings appear in 14-28 days.
4. Remove cover when seedlings appear. Grow in small groups in separate pots.
1. Sow from April to June in a prepared seed bed.
2. Sow thinly in rows 15 cm apart. Cover lightly with fine soil.Keep moist.
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