Catnip

(Nepeta cataria)

Plant catnip for your favorite feline. This member of the mint family evokes an enthusiastic reaction from most cats. They go wild for it, rolling around and purring and rubbing against the plant. However, it has no scent for humans. A hardy plant that looks similar to mint, it is very easy to grow. In summer, catnip will produce clusters of white flowers accented with purple dots. The leaves are used for teas, but catnip is mostly known for the dramatic effect its scent has on cats.

  • Type Perennial in zones 4 to 10
  • Planting time Spring
  • Features Aromatic leaves are a favorite among cats
  • Light Part shade
  • Soil Well drained
  • Spacing 18 to 24 inches
  • Plant size 18 to 36 inches tall, 1 foot wide
  • Garden use Containers, herb and flower beds
  • Culinary use Fresh for cats and dried for cat sachets; also good in herbal tea

Some Bonnie Plants varieties may not be available in your local area, due to different variables in certain regions. Also, if any variety is a limited, regional variety it will be noted on the pertinent variety page.

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At a glance
Nutrition Information

Light requirements: Full sun to part shade.

Planting: Space 18 to 24 inches apart.

Soil requirements: Plants grow in any type of soil, although clay soils can cause crown rot in winter. An ideal soil would be rich, moist but well-drained soil with a pH of 6.1 to 7.8.

Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist until plants are established. After that, catnip should survive on rainfall. Plan to water during times of drought. Consider using a pebble mulch to increase drainage, especially in humid regions.

Frost-fighting plan: Catnip is perennial in zones 4 to 10. Established plants can withstand the first light frosts (28º F to 32º F) in autumn. Use a frost blanket to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts.

Common issues: Be on the lookout for whitefly and spider mites. Catnip can get powdery mildew, so prune plants regularly (especially in the center) to promote air flow. Flowers set seed and sow prolifically; remove faded flowers quickly help curb spreading.

Growing tips: Pinch plants in spring to promote branching and bushiness. Remove flower buds as soon as they form to encourage leaf formation.

Harvesting: Pick leaves at any point in the growing season, and flowers just after they open. To harvest, pinch off individual leaves or blooms, or snip leafy stems to the length you desire. Flower petals (not the entire flowerhead) are edible; they’re usually used to brew tea, but can be sprinkled on salads. If intending to dry flowers, pick just before they open.

Storage: Cut stems and place in water like a fresh bouquet. They’ll last for at least a week, provided you remove any leaves below the water line and change water regularly. To save, wrap fresh leaves and flowers in a barely damp paper towel and tuck into a closed plastic bag or container. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2 days. Dry both leaves and flowers for use in teas, potpourri and sachets.

For more information, visit the Catnip page in our How to Grow section.

 

Nutrition Facts

2 tablespoons, fresh:
  • Calories: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Dietary fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Vitamin A: 3% DV
  • Vitamin C: 2%
  • Vitamin K: 0%
  • Vitamin B6: 0%
  • Folate: 1%
  • Potassium: 1%
  • Manganese: 2%

Nutritional Information

Commonly used as a flavoring in beverages and foods, mint is also believed to have medicinal purposes—both as a leaf and as an oil. Peppermint oil is often applied to the skin as a treatment for headaches, muscle and nerve pain, inflammation, and even for repelling mosquitoes. A good source of Vitamins A and C, mint helps with vision and immune functions. The herb is also packed with antioxidants that protect against cell damage, boost the immune system, and form collagen in the body.