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  How To Grow Catnip

PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nepeta cataria
MATURE PLANT SIZE: 12 to 36 inches high - width varies due to spreading.
LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade
FLOWERING PERIOD: June to September
SOIL TYPE: Average, sandy, well-drained soil.
pH RANGE: 6.4


Catnip is a hardy perennial plant that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. The heart-shaped leaves are green above and gray below. The plant has purple flowers.

Catnip leaves are used for tea and seasoning and also are attractive to cats. I do not recommend planting catnip in or near your garden. If you want to grow this herb, plant in a flower box or pot away from your garden.

Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep in warm, dry, well drained sandy soil. Thin to 12 inches apart. Catnip spreads rapidly so provide it with adequate space. The plants should be cut back each year to avoid a straggly appearance. Protect small plants from cats until well established. Take cuttings in spring only. Self-sows freely. Harvest young leaves and flowering tops when fully open, before they turn brown.


Seeds or cuttings in spring. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep in warm, dry, well drained sandy soil. Thin to 12 inches apart.


Bees and butterflies are attracted to catnip, so plant it where pollination is needed.


Plant seeds or transplant seedlings in full sun or partial shade, thinning to 12 inches apart. Cut back in autumn. Since catnip spreads rapidly, it is wise to give it space. Another species, N. mussunii, reaches 12 to 18 inches in height and does well as a border plant. Since N. cataria can reach 36 inches in height, it is best used as a border plant in taller plantings or as a background plant for shorter plantings.


Aromatic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal. Dried leaves add fragrance to potpourris. The leaves are also used in salads and tea. Fresh leaves can be rubbed on raw meat as a tenderizer or mixed with olive oil and seasonings for a marinade. Catnip is used to make light yellow dye. The dried leaves are used in cat toys. The plant can be grown as an ornamental in lightly shaded areas or in containers. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.


The most common use for catnip is as a recreational herb for cats. Dry catnip by hanging it upside down in bags, then crumble and sew into cotton bags.

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