The catnip plant is best known for its popularity among our feline friends. Today’s cat lovers will often go to great lengths to make their pets happy, and this includes providing their furry companions with home-grown catnip. The plant also appeals to humans because it adds plenty of long-lasting curb appeal to gardens.
Native to Europe, Asia and Africa, it is also cultivated in North America and can be either perennial or annual. It has heart-shaped green or grayish-green leaves with serrated edges and small purple, blue, white or pink tubular blooms on long stalks. Here’s we’ll discuss how to grow this popular plant.
What Is Catnip and How Is It Used?
Catnip, an herb known under its Latin name as nepeta cataria, is a type of catmint. In fact, you may find that cats will often respond to mint leaves as they would catnip.
The herb exudes nepeta, an oil that releases pheromones in felines with resultant euphoria. Think of it as having the same effect on a cat as a mild cocktail would in humans. Cats feel stimulated, excited and happy. In herbal medicine, the plant has a sedative effect on humans and certain varieties are used in herbal tea infusions.
Catnip can be grown outside in the garden, or you can even grow it indoors. You can cultivate it as you would any other herb. It is a plant that can be classified as low maintenance, and is easy to nurture.
Main Varieties of Catnip
Catnip plants come in four varieties, Greek, lemon, mint or common catnip, and camphor. They differ in the following ways.
The Greek catnip plant has green or grayish green leaves and tiny lavender flowers on tall stems. Common in Europe, it adds beauty to domestic gardens.
This variety has the hallmark green to grayish-green leaves but sports tiny blue flowers. It adds visual appeal to your garden, and its flowers are abundant in the nectar that attracts honeybees and butterflies. It also adds a light lemon scent to your outdoor environment.
Mint or Common Catnip
The mint variety of catnip plant is the one most alluring to felines. It can grow fairly tall (up to 18 inches in height) and is distinguished by white flowers.
This variety gets its name from its signature scent. It grows a little smaller than other varieties, but can be lush. It can help fill barren spaces in your garden.
How to Grow the Catnip Plant in Your Garden
You can begin to grow your own catnip plant for your garden in a couple of ways. You can begin the process with seeds or cuttings indoors or outside.
- Outdoors sow your seeds when the weather warms in late spring. Distribute the seeds on top of the soil and cover with an additional layer of earth. Keep the soil moderately moist. You don’t want to overwater. The plants will sprout in about two weeks. As they grow, you may space the plants further apart and pinch the leaves to help them grow outward.
- If you start your catnip plant inside, begin by depositing seeds in a container so they are about ¼-inch deep and cover with soil. Water the soil so it is moderately wet and make sure not to overwater. In about two weeks, you’ll see the catnip start to sprout. At this point, you can move your container(s) to a sunny spot. After about a month, you can transplant the catnip if weather permits. You can also continue to grow the plant indoors.
This herb is resistant to drought. When watering, make sure to allow the soil to become almost dry before replenishing moisture. If too much humidity/moisture is given, the catnip plant can be susceptible to mildew and spider mites.
With its ease of growth and low maintenance, you can enjoy the catnip plant for years to come. Dry it for your feline friends. They will love it. As a gardener, you’ll be rewarded with a lovely, fragrant and attractive addition to your garden. You’ll also help environmentally friendly insects like honeybees and butterflies.
Image from pixabay.com.