Catnip plants (Nepeta cataria) are a member of the mint family and is often found in gardens as an annual herb. It’s also a hardy perennial herb but can be grown indoors as well. Catnip is the most popular cat-attracting plant, one of the many cat toys, with a pungent odor that cats love.
Catnip is a culinary herb that also acts as a stimulant for cats and drives them wild with excitement. This article will show you how to growing tips for catnips in your own garden that your feline friends will go crazy for!
Quick Facts About Catnip Plants
- Scientific name: Nepeta cataria
- Type of plant: herbaceous perennial plant
- Native to: Europe, Asia and Africa
- Light requirement: up to five hours a day of strong sunlight on a bright windowsill
- Water requirement: twice a week for the first two weeks, and reduce watering to every other week
- Preferred temperature: between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit; hot climates; sunny area
- Size upon maturity: 12 to 18 inches tall
- Type of soil: Loamy, sandy, well-drained
- soil pH level: 6 (mildly acidic) to 7.5 (mildly alkaline)
- Word meaning: the intense attraction about two-thirds of indoor cats have toward it
- Family: mints
- Lifespan: more than two years
- Growing Season: spring
What exactly are space catnip plants?
Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, grows up to 3 feet tall and has green leaves with white or purple flowers. The color of the flowers depends on where you live — in North America, for example, they tend to be white or pink. In Europe and Asia, however, they are usually purple or blue. The flowers attract bees and butterflies but have no scent until crushed by a cat’s teeth or paw.
Fresh catnip is native to Europe but has spread worldwide through human trade routes since ancient times. It was used as an herbal remedy for headaches and colds before modern medicine was invented, but now it’s mostly known for its effects on cats!
What do catnip seeds look like?
Catnip seeds are flat and oval-shaped. They’re grayish-brown to dark brown in color and about the size of a sesame seed.
They have a unique shape that can help you identify them if you find them in your garden. However, it also makes them easy for birds and rodents to eat!
Where to plant catnip?
Catnip plant prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It grows best in moist soil that has been amended with compost or other organic matter. You can also grow young plants in containers with root ball if you want to bring it indoors during winter or if you live in a zone where it dies yearly.
When to plant catnip?
Catnip seeds should be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last spring frost date so they have enough time to get established before the summer weather arrives. You can also sow seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed — just be sure not to disturb them once they begin growing because this makes them bolt and go to seed quickly instead of producing roots and stems.
How to grow catnip seeds?
Nepeta cataria is an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance herb that’s attractive to cats and humans alike. The plants are attractive with light pink flowers and grow quickly, making them a great addition to any garden or landscape. Catnip can be started from seed in the early spring.
Make sure you know these facts to encourage fast growth and better yields:
Several plants can tolerate both full sun and partial shade. If you live where summers are hot, it’s best to plant your catnip in a sunny window or shady spot where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. If you live in a colder climate, it may be best to place your catnip in the sunny windowsill to ensure that the plant gets enough light for photosynthesis, which is how plants turn carbon dioxide into food energy through photosynthesis.
Catnip grows on differnt soil types but grows best in well draining soil that has plenty of organic matter. If you’re organic gardening from seed indoors, use potting soil or peat moss as your planting medium. You can mix sand or perlite into your compost or potting soil dry before planting your catnip seeds if they don’t have good drainage holes. If possible, plant the seeds outdoors in the afternoon shade to receive adequate sun exposure through their first year of growth.
Nepeta cataria requires regular watering to keep the soil moist but not soggy. The plant is drought resistant once established, so avoid overwatering if you are companion planting in containers or raised beds. If you want to grow catnip from seed indoors, water your seedlings every day until they are ready to go outside in the springtime.
The best time to plant catnip is in late spring or early summer when the weather is warm but not hot, as temperatures over 80 degrees can damage the roots of this herbaceous perennial.
Storing catnip is easy, because the plant can last forever. In fact, some people use air dried catnip leaves in the catnip tea and mix flowers placed in the freezer overnight in their cooking!
The only thing you have to do is keep it away from pets and children who might eat it. You also need to make sure that the new plant doesn’t dry out completely before watering again. Here’s how:
When to harvest fresh catnip?
Catnip is ready for harvesting from the time the catnip flowers appear. The bushier growth of petals are a good indicator of when you should harvest your catnip. Petals should be bright green and fresh looking, not yellowed or wilted.
You can also check the stems for a sticky substance called “nectar”. Nectar is a clear liquid that comes from glands in the base of the flower petals. This liquid is attractive to bees and butterflies, but it also attracts cats!
Catnips that have been exposed to too much sun may produce less nectar than their more shaded counterparts, so if you want to attract as many cats as possible, try placing existing plant in partial shade instead of full sun.
Managing Pests and Diseases
Many plants are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. Some can be managed with preventive measures, such as proper irrigation, garden fencing, and fertilization. Here are some you should know about:
Squash bugs are the bane of gardeners’ existence. They are the size of a small ladybug, brown with three black stripes and they eat your squash plants. They lay eggs in the soil, which hatch into white grubs that look like maggots. The grubs live in the poor soil, eating roots and damaging plants as they grow.
You can use insecticides or spray them directly with water from your hose until they fall off their host plant onto the ground below where they will die if left there for more than 24 hours without food or water; Or you can handpick them off your plants by placing an overturned bucket over the plant and shaking it gently to dislodge them from leaves and flowers onto paper towels.
Cercospora, or leaf spot disease, is a common problem on all types of bamboo. It can cause yellowing and browning of fresh leaves, with black or brown spots on the leaves. You can treat it by removing dead or dried leaves as soon as you see them. If you see new spots forming on the leaves, spray with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil or mancozeb or both. Use a product that contains both chemicals if possible because they work together to fight Cercospora leaf spot.
Powdery mildew is a fungus that causes white, powdery spots on many plants’ leaves. It is most commonly seen on cucumbers, squash, melons, and tomatoes. Powdery mildew can also be found on gardenias, roses, and other plants that are susceptible to this fungal disease.
The best way to prevent powdery mildew from affecting your plants is to avoid overwatering them. If your plant does come down with powdery mildew, there are several things you can do to treat it:
- Remove infected foliage as soon as you see signs of the disease. They can also come from underground runners. Prevent further spread by washing your hands after handling infected plants or tools.
- Apply neem oil or horticultural oil to control powdery mildew on roses and other woody plants. Repeat applications every two weeks until symptoms disappear.
- Apply sulfur fungicide according to label directions when symptoms first appear on cucumbers and squash plants.
Propagation of Mature Plants
Propagation of catnip is relatively easy. The herb grows well from seed and the young shoots are also edible. It can be grown in a container as a house plant or outdoors in your garden.
Propagation by Seed
The best time to sow catnip seeds is early spring, when the soil has warmed up but is still cold enough to germinate the seeds. Sow seeds directly into your garden or into containers for indoor growing. Seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch deep in the soil. Space seeds about 2 inches apart from each other when planting them in containers or directly into the garden bed.
Keep the soil moist until you see new growth emerging from the seedlings, which should take 2 to 3 weeks. Once they emerge, water regularly but avoid overwatering as wet soil can lead to root rot and plant death.
Propagation by Cuttings
Catnip can be propagated by taking softwood cuttings in summer or early autumn. Cuttings should be taken with soft stems and leaves, as well as some roots. Cut them into 4-inch pieces, dip the end in hormone rooting powder and place them in a well-drained rooting medium such as perlite or vermiculite. Keep the medium moist but not wet and place the containers in a warm indoor location out of direct sunlight until the cuttings develop roots; this may take two weeks to several months, depending on temperature, humidity, and other factors. After rooting, remove the cuttings from their container and plant them in pots or directly into garden beds where they will flower within two years of planting.
Nutrients Found in Catnip Plants
The following nutrients are found in catnip:
- Fiber: The leaves and seeds contain a significant amount of fiber, about 5 grams per 100-gram serving. Fiber is important for digestion and helps control blood sugar levels.
- Vitamin A: The plant contains more than half the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and vision.
- Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth, but most people do not get enough of this mineral from their diet. Cats can obtain calcium from catnip because it provides about 1 milligram per 100-gram serving.
- Manganese helps form connective tissues that support your skin, tendons and ligaments. It also helps prevent bone loss by keeping your bones strong and healthy.
How to grow catnip from seed without a green thumb?
Growing catnip from seed is easy as long as you follow these steps:
1) Start indoors approximately four weeks before your last frost date.
2) Plant seeds directly into prepared soil surface once all danger of frost has passed in your area (generally late spring).
3) Water well throughout the growing season, especially during dry spells. Catnips need moist soil to produce large yields of fresh plants and flowers.
Different Uses of Catnip
Catnip is an herb that many people know about because it’s used to attract cats, but not everyone knows its other uses. Here are some things you might not know about catnip:
- It can be used as a sedative for humans and good for treating headaches.
- It makes an excellent fertilizer for your garden to have bushier plants.
- To make tea. Catnip tea is said to help with menstrual cramps. Add it to boiling water to help soothe indigestion or upset stomachs. The leaves can also be made into a poultice for insect bites or minor burns.
- To repel insects. Catnip can be placed around plants as a repellant for aphids and mites, keeping them from infesting and harming your garden plants. You may also place dried catnip leaves in your garden to keep pests away from your crops during the its in season, although this isn’t recommended if you’re planning on eating those crops later on.
- As an insect repellent for dogs and horses many people have reported success with this method of using catnip as an insect repellent for their pets, especially horses who live outside year-round in warmer climates where flies are especially bad during certain times of the year.
Why are cats catnip-attracted?
Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which is similar to a pheromone that is released by female cats in heat. This can cause female cats to act aggressively toward male cats. The effect of catnip on male cats is different than on females because males have an enzyme that breaks down nepetalactone before it can have any effect on them.
The reaction usually happens when they are between 7 weeks and 6 months old, but some kittens do not respond until they are several months old.
What are the effects on humans?
Humans aren’t affected by nepetalactone because we don’t have receptors for it in our brains. But some people believe that eating or drinking tea made with catnip can help treat colds, headaches and insomnia because of its sedative properties.
Does catnip help with allergies?
Catnip has traditionally been used as an antihistamine to relieve symptoms of allergies, including sneezing, congestion and runny nose. However, there isn’t enough evidence from clinical studies to support this use of catnip leaf or its essential oils.
How long does it take to grow catnip?
These plants wont take over a decade to grow. They spring quickly and produce new leaves in just a few weeks as long as there is enough sunlight. The entire growing process can be completed within three months.
What can you not plant near catnip?
Catnip is a member of the mint family, so it will grow best with other herbs and plants in this family. Do not plant them near vegetables, flowers or shrubs that are susceptible to mint diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. These diseases can also infect other members of the family, including spearmint and peppermint.
Can catnip be planted in the same bed as mint?
Yes, but be careful if you are planting mint near catnip as this can confuse some cats into thinking they are eating real catnip when they are actually eating an imitation plant.
What fertilizer should I use on catnips?
Catnips need nitrogen-rich fertilizer for new growth . You can use a water-soluble fertilizer with high nitrogen content such as Miracle Grow, or you can mix up your own solution using 1 cup ammonium sulfate you can get from you local nursery and 2 cups water per gallon of compost tea. Apply this solution monthly during their in season.
Catnip is very easy to grow, which may make it a great choice if you’re looking to introduce your feline friends to the joy of gardening. However, keep in mind that some cats are extremely sensitive. Moreover, you may notice that fragrant catnip can be somewhat overwhelming, so keeping it away from your living area may be wise.