Connecticut Garden Journal: Catmint | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Catmint

Jun 7, 2019

Nepeta, or catmint, is a tough, long blooming perennial that bees and butterflies love. Of course, one of its members, catnip, is a particular favorite of cats. Unfortunately, catnip isn't the most attractive plant, but kitties love to roll, munch and sleep on the plant.

If you’re having trouble keeping your catnip plants alive, consider the old saying, “If you set it, the cats will eat it. If you sow it, the cats won’t know it.” Cats seem to dismiss seeded catnip, but love the transplants. But enough about Garfield, let’s talk about catmint!

Catmint is easy to grow and it’s deer and rabbit proof. The grey-green leaves yield white, pink, or lavender blue colored flowers in early summer. If you snip back the plant after blooming it will have another flush of flowers later in summer. Catmint isn't the tidiest plant in the garden. The 2-foot tall plant’s habit can be wild and floppy, especially if you grow larger varieties such as Six Hills Giant and Walker's Low. So, it's best grow catmint cascading over a wall, sprawling under a rose or filling in between other more well-mannered perennials.

Some newer varieties, such as Cats’ Meow, only grow 12- to 18-inches tall, stay more upright and have sterile seeds so they are less likely to become a weed in your garden.

Catmint thrives on neglect. Adding too much water, compost, or fertilizer will result in lots of long, flimsy stems with few flowers. Catmint will flower happily each year and slowly increase in size over time. Divide plants in early spring to make more catmints.