Nepeta cataria - Catnip or Catmint

Nepeta cataria, Catnip or Catmint

Nepeta cataria is a hardy perennial plant native to Eurasia and naturalized in most parts of the world. The plants will reach about 3 feet (~1 m) in height with an equal spread. Ovate leaves will reach up to 3 inches (7.7 cm) long, acute, cordate at the base, crenate or serrate and gray tomentose beneath. Plants are attractive to cats and can be used to make a tea. They are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 6-10.

Blooming: In early to mid summer, the plants bloom with a spike-like inflorescence bearing small 0.25 inch (7 mm) white flowers with pale purple spots. They are very showy when in bloom.

Culture: Nepeta cataria need full sun to partial shade, with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. After flowering, plant are cut back to keep them flowering and to help keep them manageable in containers. During the winter months, plants are moved to the cool rooms and are kept at 48°F (9°C) for the winter. After the foliage dies back, old stems are removed to the top of the containers and water is restricted to about once a month during this period. Re-potting is done in spring as new growth emerges.

Propagation: Nepeta cataria are easily propagated from cuttings, division of large plants and from seed.

Nepeta cataria was featured as Plant of the Week November 25-December 1, 2005.

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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.