- Cats and Garden Mint
- Catnip and Catmint
- Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Cats? What Are The Dangers Of It?
- What is Peppermint?
- Peppermint and Fleas
- Why Peppermint is Bad for Your Cat
- Alternatives to Peppermint
- In Conclusion
- Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Cats?
- Will peppermint hurt cats?
- Does peppermint oil keep fleas away?
- What essential oils are safe to diffuse around cats?
- Catmint Vs. Catnip: SPICEography Showdown
- How does catmint differ from catnip?
- Can you use catmint in place of catnip and vice versa?
- When should you use catmint and when should you use catnip?
- So what’s the difference between catnip and catmint?
- Catmint the cat’s meow
Has it always been difficult for you to differentiate between the catnip and catmint plants? Also, many of us have often wondered which one of them sends our priceless felines on a euphoric trip? I created a Catmint vs. Catnip guide to help everyone bell the right cat.
Let’s begin with the history
The catmint (“Nepeta Mussina,”) and catnip (Nepeta cataria) are herbs of perennial origin and have an aromatic identity. They both come from the family of Labiate, a clan of classy mint. The Roman town of Napeti, was the first one to grow Catmint, hence the name Napeta.
The herbs though the natives of Europe, Africa, and Asia have traveled far and beyond. Today they can be easily found in North America. The Catnip plant has a stronger pungent fragrance compared to the milder aroma of catmint.
What are the popular types of Labiates family?
The family of Labiates has around 250 members. There is Napeta camphorata (Camphor Catnip) with purple dotted flowers, Napeta parnassica (Greek Catnip) with white & pale pink flowers. The Napeta Cataria Citrodora (Lemon Catnip) which exudes a lemony fragrance.
- The catnip has heart-shaped leaves which are scalloped at edges. The leaves are green or gray in color. You will find that the stalk of catnip is hairy and square. The flowers of catnip grow in spikes. The catnip plant has less ornamental value than catmint.
- The catmint also has a square stem with the heart-shaped, toothed leaves. You would find that they bloom best between July and September. The catmint flowers bloom on the short stalk in the whorls type format.
Where can we grow the catnip and catmint plant?
The weedy-looking catnip grows to the height of 1-5 feet. The width of the stem extends between 1-3 feet. Their fragrance attracts pollinators in hoards making it a boon for the environment.
- The catnip grows best in the outdoor environment. You can start sowing seeds around spring time. However, if you live in the hotter part of the world, then it is best to plant the seeds or young seedlings in an area which has a shade shelter.
- The catmint is the suitable herb for landscaping purposes. The plant attains a maximum height of 2-3 feet and has lavender blue flower flocks. They are heat tolerant and regrow quickly flowering many times in the year.
You can grow the catmint through plant propagation techniques. The propagation refers to using existing catmint plant which has oodles of nodes. The juicy stem is sectioned, grafted or divided for new plant growth.
Let’s prepare soil for catnip & catmint
- Catnip is easy on growth and quickly proliferates. However, you are required to keep the soil well drained till the seeds germinate. In humid regions, it is important that we maintain adequate drainage conditions with the help of pebbles.
- Catmint thrives in the compost-amended soil. You need to create a ground bed that is humus rich and well drained. If grown in sandy soil, catmint exhales more fragrance than normal. A distance of 1-2 feet between two saplings is good. It helps the plant to grow to its full extent.
How can we take care of catnip & catmint?
- The catnip seeds require excessive watering during the sowing process. To get a dense bloom, you will need to clip the stem in an early growth phase. It is important that you protect the plant with a right sized fence or partition that will save it from a cat attack.
- The catmint plant needs to be surrounded by mulch to retain moisture and restrict weeds. A regulated water supply is necessary to reap the bloom. The plants need to be pinched to induce bushier growth. The deadheading technique avoids reseeding requirement for catmint.
What about the nutrient composition of catmint and catnip?
You will notice that the Catnip vs. Catmint comparison pales when it comes to the chemistry of these plants. Both contain volatile oils, sterols, acids, and tannins. Some common constituents being citronellal, carvacrol, pulegone, thymol and nepetalic acid.
What are the benefits?
Catnip herb tea
- The catnip can spell a sedative effect on cats as well as humans. Its medicinal usage includes treating nausea, anxiety, headaches or sleep disorders. Catnip stores an essential oil called nepetalactone in its leaves and stems. It is this oil that sends our cats into a dreamy state.
- The catmint is used in a fresh, dried, or frozen format for both culinary as well as other medicinal usages such as herbal tea. The tea induces sleep and helps the sickly perspire without increasing the body temperature.
The two plants with almost similar names are quite apart in their glory and benefits. Also, it is the catnip plant which has the stronger ability to bell the cat. Now you can soothe that wild cat first or cozy up with a sip of herbal tea later. It’s your choice.
The war of Catmint vs. Catnip has just begun. To get catnip or to get catmint, you now have the required intelligence. I would be happy to hear your views on this quick research. Do leave your comments, questions in the section below.
Cat’s Are Vegetarians! Just Kidding.
Cats may not be vegetarians, but everyone knows they love catnip, along with many other herb plants as well. Expert opinions are mixed when it comes to deciding the benefit of plants for cats. Some say there are no benefits whatsoever and that they chew on it because they are bored or like the way it feels. While others say it is a great source of fiber, can help improve digestion and remove any indigestible materials such as fur from grooming or feathers. Whatever your cats desire, there may be many benefits to having an indoor garden for your feline companion.
The most common type of grass you will see that is sold for cats is wheat grass or oat grass. These grasses are high in fiber and can act as a natural laxative. They also have many benefits such as folic acid and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. While these grasses could eventually grow to be 5 feet tall, if grown outdoors and left to seed, it’s important to know that the seeds from both of these plants are toxic to cats, so they must be kept short (about 1 foot) through regular clipping or mowing.
One particular favorite of mine is the mint plant. It is of the same family as catnip and contains a chemical compound that appeals to cats and can trigger a little different reaction from them. There are various types of mint plants out there, all fragrant with a fruity, aromatic taste, including the peppermint and spearmint. I do not recommend these two because EXCESSIVE intake can cause digestive upset in cats.
Parsley is more than just a garnish on you dinner plate; its bright green feather-like leaves have been used in human medicine because of the vitamins and minerals it supplies, including calcium and iron and vitamins A, C and E among others. It can be effective for supporting urinary tract health and is a known ingredient in many natural supplements for cats.
Cats also enjoy attractive edible flowers such as Marigolds and Johnny-Jump Ups and adding them to your cat garden can make for a colorful display. Marigolds give a wonderful fresh scent and as an added bonus help deter unwanted pests such as fleas. Johnny-Jump-Ups are small flowers from the violet family and come in an assortment of colors adding more variety to a feline garden. These two flowers are also commonly used in the culinary world as edible flowers and garnishes.
Catnip is a member of the mint family, its scent gives many of our adult feline friends a frisky burst of energy, although not all adult cats react to it and kittens usually never do. Dried catnip is thought to mimic the feline “happy” pheromones, giving them that burst of energy, however, eating fresh catnip has the opposite affect. Cats mellow and become calmer.
Just because it’s not a requirement in the feline diet doesn’t mean it can’t have potential benefits. A beautiful cat garden is valuable part of good cat care. Cats love to play and watch the world go by. A garden can relieve boredom especially if you are at work all day and give cats a touch of the outdoors. The best way to start is to grow your garden from the seeds as it guarantees that they are organic and that no chemicals are used, plus it gives you the ability to customize to your kitty’s liking.
Do you have a garden? If you have, chances are you caught your Fluffy chewing on some grass or plant. Culinary herbs that you may have, like rosemary or parsley can attract your cat as well. Some people think that cats know exactly what to nibble on to help their digestion or something like that. The truth is that they have no idea. While some of the plants are safe for them, others can be harmful even poisonous to our cats. Garden mint is a common plant in our gardens. If you wonder if cats can eat mint, you are at the right address.
There is no simple answer to this question as there are many different kinds of mint plants. And they contain different chemicals. So, the simple answer could be that some types are safe, while others can be toxic.
Cats and Garden Mint
Let’s start with simple facts. Garden mint is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, according to ASPCA. It is so because mint contains essential oils. When ingested, these essential oils trigger different reactions in your cat’s body. Most of them are not good. So, if your cat eats garden mint it can cause mint poisoning. Signs of mint poisoning are not specific. Vomiting, feeling nauseous and weak, and upset stomach, are the most common signs.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should freak out. Nibbling on a few leaves, probably won’t cause any discomfort. Your cat needs to eat large amounts of garden mint to reach toxic dosage. And cats are usually not very enthusiastic about eating a lot of herbs. Most of the times they will find mint fragrance repelling. But, if you have noticed that your cat has had a lot of mint, call your vet. If your cat has a liver condition or chronic disease, mint can cause liver failure. This requires immediate reaction and treatment.
As for treatment, in these difficult cases, your vet will decide the best approach, besides removing the stomach content. As for healthy cats, they usually don’t need any treatment. You just have to keep an eye on your Fluffy and give her or him some love. Cat’s body will eventually get rid of the toxin and she will fully recover. You should keep in touch with your vet, just to make sure you are not misinterpreting something.
This whole story was about eating mint leaves or other parts of the herb. However, extracted essential oils are very concentrated so you shouldn’t allow your cat to get a drop of it. It will likely cause poisoning. The procedure, however, remains the same.
Catnip and Catmint
I have already mentioned that there are many types of mint. Most of them contain essential oils that are harmful to cats, but usually in smaller quantities than garden mint. But, there are two types of mint that are perfectly safe and even attractive to cats: catnip and catmint. These two herbs are almost the same, except for the fact that catmint is a bit more decorative for your garden. They have the same effect on cats so I will continue to talk about catnip, but it will all refer to catmint as well.
So, what is the secret of catnip? While cats don’t like herbs, more or less, this one turns them into frenzied furballs! It is because of the natural chemical called nepetalactone (dare to pronounce it!). It somehow triggers the cat’s ‘happy’ receptors in the brain. Cats can be funny, but it is hard to beat the sight of a cat rubbing on the plant, pawing it, rolling and flipping over!
Even though they may chew on it, it is the smell that makes a cat go wild. Fortunately, it lasts up to 15 minutes. After that, it takes between 1 and 2 hours to ‘reset’ and be able to repeat the show. It is interesting though, that two-thirds of cats can experience this cat’s ‘high’ state of mind. One-third of cats can’t experience any of it. The genes that allow enjoying the catnip are inheritable. So, if your cat doesn’t react to catnip don’t worry. It is just bad luck.
Cat people love to share with their furry companions. Actually, we have an innate need to share with our loved ones. For some of us, cats make the top of the list or close to it. However, food is not something that we can often share with our cats.
As for mint, unless it is catnip or catmint, keep it away from your Fluffy. Garden mint and most of the other types of mint have nothing that can be good for cats. And in larger amounts they are toxic. On the other hand, catnip can be great fun for both your cat and you. And a tea made of catnip has effects similar to chamomile tea! So this is the herb that you can share with your feline companion. If you have a garden plant a catnip to enrich your partnership with your furball.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Cats? What Are The Dangers Of It?
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Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.
It so happened one Christmas that the author’s dog was a little, well, the polite word is “flatulent”. He, perhaps, had more leftovers than was really good for him and holiday visitors just couldn’t resist those big brown eyes. I decided to see if feeding him a peppermint candy cane would silence this little problem. I crushed the cane up to make sure it had no pointy bits. Troubles gobbled it right up and his loud and smelly ailment was eased.
While this is good news for dog owners, cat owners must remember that a cat is not a dog. A cat’s system is very different from a dog’s. If you find peppermint fixes Fido’s flatulence and fleas, you may fancy that following fairly with Fluffy is feasible. This factor is false. If your cat has flatulence problems you should read this article about solving this problem.
What is Peppermint?
The plant known as Mentha piperita is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. And is cultivated throughout the world. It has a high menthol content and thus the oil is high in menthyl acetate. The high concentration of pulegon makes it popular as an organic pesticide.
Traditionally, it is used medicinally to treat minor ailments such as irritable bowels and topically to relieve itches and muscular aches. In aromatherapy, it’s used to enhance memory and alertness. In the language of flowers, it symbolizes hospitality and wisdom. Show wisdom and hospitality to your cat by not subjecting them to peppermint.
The menthol activates cold-sensitive receptors in the skin. Where humans might feel a slight, localized chill, a cat will feel a spine tingling freeze. Don’t subject Kitty to this. Cats don’t need peppermint and they don’t even like the smell, flavor or even touch of it. It is useless at best and deadly at worst to subject your cat to peppermint.
Peppermint and Fleas
The type of flea that feeds particularly on cats, Ctenocephalides felis, is smaller than the dog flea and may be more difficult to notice. It is also a voracious flea that can suck a kitten dry until the poor thing dies of anemia. It is also prolific, a single female laying as much as fifty eggs per day. This can quickly lead to a very itchy and uncomfortable cat.
Peppermint oil is often used as a natural flea killer that attacks the flea’s nervous system, subjecting them to a long and painful death. (Don’t you just weep for the little bloodsuckers?) Keep in mind “natural” doesn’t mean “safe”. Even poison ivy can be called natural.
Peppermint oil simply is not good for cats in any form. It must not be ingested, inhaled or applied topically. Many cats express dislike for the smell of peppermint and may not even want it. If your cat has a mild flea infestation, a comb through with a stiff comb dipped in water and non-toxic liquid dish detergent could fix things.
Your veterinarian can suggest medications, both topical and oral, that will help your cat. To further deter flea infestations, you can have your furry friend wear a collar treated with flumethrin and imidacloprid.
Why Peppermint is Bad for Your Cat
People love the smell of peppermint. It reminds people of merry Christmases and freshly brushed teeth. Your cat does not share your sense of smell. She has twice as many olfactory nerves as you do. The smell of peppermint is overpowering for her and with very good reason. Inhaling peppermint can cause Kitty to develop aspiration pneumonia.
They may try to rid the inhaled oil from their system by coughing and sneezing. If your cat coughs and sneezes to the point her breathing is laboured and she has a fever and increased heart rate, take her to the vet immediately.
A cat’s skin is very thin and delicate. Rubbing anything into their skin can get it easily introduced to the bloodstream. Add to this the fact that cats often lick themselves can mean anything applied topically can quickly become introduced orally. Peppermint can affect your cat’s gastrointestinal system, but not in a good way.
The liver and central nervous system can be adversely affected. If your cat is drooling, has no appetite or lethargic to unresponsive, she may be experiencing a bad reaction to peppermint and needs to go to a veterinarian right away.
Alternatives to Peppermint
Essential oils such as peppermint are high in phenols that cats cannot metabolize properly. While peppermint is not exactly toxic, a little bit can go a long way. Sometimes too long. If peppermint is used at all it should only be under a veterinarian’s observation. Even then, chances are good that your vet will recommend another more practical cure for what ails Kitty.
Listen to your veterinarian’s instructions. She will tell you what is in your cat’s best interests. Not only will cures be suggested, but you can learn how best to care for your cat so that she won’t need a cure to begin with.
Rosemary and lemon grass are natural and harmless to cats, but many cats despise the smell. If your cat wouldn’t mind being misted, mix one part water to one part apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz Kitty with that. A half teaspoon of brewer’s yeast at a mealtime can help. If your cat will tolerate the smell of eucalyptus, a bit of this can convince fleas to go elsewhere.
If Kitty is making embarrassing little toots, make sure first there’s not a more serious underlying problem. Otherwise, this minor problem can be safely treated with activated charcoal and yucca schidigera and making sure Kitty doesn’t eat what she’s not supposed to. If Kitty has a mild skin irritation or a hairball problem, a tiny bit of coconut oil might prove helpful. No more than a quarter or half teaspoon per day is recommended.
Keep in mind that what might work for yourself or a dog might not work on the more delicate system of a cat. Subjecting your cat to peppermint brings only discomfort, illness or even death. While it may be tempting to use peppermint as a natural fix for ailments such as stomach pains, skin irritations and fleas there are other viable options.
Peppermint should not be administered to cats in any form. If your cat has been exposed to peppermint (say, she got really curious about that one aromatic ornament on your Christmas tree) she needs immediate veterinary care. Take care of your cat by making sure she only eats healthy food, gets plenty of exercise and isn’t exposed to parasites. Some natural cures may be good for your cat, but peppermint most certainly is not one of them.
- Mentha piperita (peppermint). Herro E1, Jacob SE. Dermatitis. 2010 Nov-Dec;21(6):327-9.
- Final report on the safety assessment of Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf, and Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Water. Nair B1. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 3:61-73.
- The temperature sensitivity of the furred skin of cats D. R. Kenshalo J Physiol. 1964 Aug; 172(3): 439–448.
- Pneumonia Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Cats?
Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Cats. Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to cats. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.
Will peppermint hurt cats?
Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are toxic to pets. If the oil gets onto the cat’s fur (which the cat could later ingest while grooming), or the cat licks the spill, harmful toxic effects can occur.
Does peppermint oil keep fleas away?
Peppermint oil doesn’t repel fleas, it will however, kill flea larvae. It relieves skin irritation and inflammation caused by flea bites. Apply a small amount of Peppermint oil to the affected area to help your pet heal. Rosemary essential oil tends to irritate more than other oils.
What essential oils are safe to diffuse around cats?
A few common essential oils that are SAFE to use for your cat include lavender, copaiba, helichrysum, and frankincense. If you diffuse oils in your home, it should not cause a problem for your cat, as oil used in a diffuser is highly diluted (versus direct topical application or dietary supplementation).
Catmint Vs. Catnip: SPICEography Showdown
Catmint and catnip both belong to the Lamiaceae family and have quite a few things in common as evidenced by the cat prefix that they share. The two names are also commonly confused as many people believe that they refer to a single herb. That said, catmint and catnip are two quite different herbs that possess different properties despite their commonalities. If you are trying to choose between one or the other, keep in mind that they can have very different effects so which you choose depends on the benefits you want. The catmint vs. catnip SPICEography Showdown below can help.
How does catmint differ from catnip?
Arguably the best-known property of both catmint and catnip is their appeal to members of the feline species. Some cats love these herbs. They are used as recreational drugs for cats, and cause short-lived hyperactivity and euphoria. What attracts cats is a terpene called nepetalactone that is said to mimic the female cat’s sex hormone. The big difference is that catmint has much less of the cat attractant than does catnip. It does contain some and will still interest and enthrall some cats, but not to the extent that catnip does.
Catmint has a mild minty fragrance similar to other mints like pennyroyal; catnip is musky and does not have as sweet a smell.
Catmint has bright blue flowers, which make it a more attractive plant; especially since the flowering parts are often used medicinally. Catnip is a purely medicinal plant with little visual appeal. It looks like a standard member of the mint family; however, its leaves are larger than those of most mints including catmint. Catmint leaves measure only about 1 to 2 inches in length; catnip leaves can measure up to 3 inches in length.
Catmint also differs from catnip in that it is a hybrid of two species: Nepeta racemosa and Nepeta nepetella. Catnip is not a hybrid.
Can you use catmint in place of catnip and vice versa?
Catmint is not a great substitute for catnip if you want something to appeal to your cat. Only a subset of cats is attracted to catnip, and even fewer of them will be drawn to catmint since it has a lower concentration of nepetalactone. However, catnip does have some medicinal value for humans; you can use catmint as an alternative if that value is what you want. Catmint is not as aromatic as catnip, which may make a catmint tea more enjoyable.
When should you use catmint and when should you use catnip?
Catmint is a tea herb with medicinal and culinary benefits. Use it to treat nausea, anxiety and insomnia. It is used like basil and shows up in recipes for some French soups and sauces. Catnip’s smell sometimes gets likened to a blend of thyme and oregano with skunky notes. Because of its strong scent, catnip is a less popular ingredient for cooking. Instead, you can use it to make a medicinal tea. Catnip does have many of the same therapeutic benefits as catmint — it is a cough remedy and sleep aid — but it is not as popular for human consumption. If you want treats for your cat, you will want to use catnip instead of catmint. Note that not all cats are sensitive to the nepetalactone in catnip; the sensitivity will vary.
Mr Jack, the leader of the pack.
Happy Caturday Furriends! It’s Mr Jack here, and today I feature in our Caturday Doodle blog hop, hosted by Athena Cat Goddess. Well, it features Baggy too, the brown tabby on the left, and Jimmy Fancy Feet on the right, but as you can see I’m the centre of attention. All my pals follow my lead, somewhat. You see, Baggy thinks he’s the leader, as he always powder puffs my other housemates when they’re in his path. He tried that once with me and never again! I’m also known as the social facilitator because I like to groom my friends and spread the communal scent. It’s all about keeping the peace and spreading the love. Sometimes.
Like most cats, we love catnip, but we also like sniffing the catmint plant and watching the bees and butterflies as they circle around the purple flowers. Our big lady cat likes to plant this around our tunnel too, because it looks pretty and we like to watch those fuzzy black and yellow flying things. They have a strange purr. But the catmint that we really go crazy for is the one with the white flowers. The big lady cat explains below.
So what’s the difference between catnip and catmint?
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is the most popular variety of catmint among cat lovers the world over. Nepetalactone is the organic compound found in catnip that sends our furry friends into a euphoric frenzy. I wish I could find a way to extract this oil and bottle it, but for now, I will keep harvesting the plant for kitties’ enjoyment throughout the winter. It has a more bushy, weedy appearance but redeems itself with pleasant looking white flowers. Bees and butterflies are also attracted to this plant. It is a perennial and comes back each year but I prefer to plant fresh ones in hanging baskets in the main catio.
Catmint (Nepeta Faassenii) is an attractive looking mint variety with beautiful lavender flowers that attracts bumblebees and butterflies. It’s a perennial ornamental and comes back each year with very little care as they are super drought tolerant. Just a nice shearing after the first blooms and they keep blooming into late Autumn. Some cats are attracted to this variety too, but not with the same fervour and excitement as they are to its catnip cousin.
What is that strange purring flying thing?
Pounce over to catnip and how to grow and harvest it so that your kitties can enjoy their own home grow supply!
Caturday Art blog hop is hosted by Athena Cat Goddess, so please hop over there to see some quirky and crazy entries. Join the fun!
Art was drawn on iPad using a stylus called Pencil.
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Catmint the cat’s meow
- catmint (Nepeta tuberosa) catmint (Nepeta tuberosa) Photo: Annie’s Annuals & Perennials
Photo: Annie’s Annuals & Perennials Image 1 of / 4
Image 1 of 4 catmint (Nepeta tuberosa) catmint (Nepeta tuberosa) Photo: Annie’s Annuals & Perennials Catmint the cat’s meow 1 / 4 Back to Gallery
For those of you with cats, it’s no secret that they love catnip. Whether they eat it or just roll around it, this herb is plain irresistible to our feline friends. We used to have to keep the pots of catnip out of the reach of our nursery cat or she’d make most of it unsalable. Cat lovers may not realize there’s another catnip cousin belonging to the same genus. Nepeta faassenii, commonly called catmint, often proves as much of an aphrodisiac to cats as its better-known species mate.
Many gardeners have discovered that the appeal of catmint isn’t restricted to tabbies and calicos. Nepeta varieties offer attractively crinkled leaves that are soft to the touch, forming a 6- to 18-inch-tall stand of mid-green, sometimes grayish, foliage. Flowering begins in the late spring and often continues through to the fall. The palette of the spike-like whorled 1 inch flowers encompasses bluish purples, lavenders, even a white flowering variety.
Nepetas can be used in many ways, most notably as a high ground cover. If you do have cats, they’ll want to hang out in your catmint patch, so be prepared to have it be flattened half the time. Fortunately, nepetas are resilient enough to take a bit of abuse. Don’t let the word “mint” scare you off. Nepetas aren’t invasive like true mints, though they will slowly colonize an area if given regular water. Though they’re generally sun lovers, nepetas can handle light shade, thus can be used as an understory planting. They root shallowly so they’re an excellent choice to plant around taller perennials or seasonal bulbs like lilies, gladiolas and dahlias. Catmint can also be grown in a container and allowed to cascade over the rim of the pot, adding soothing tones to complement brighter colors.
Cats won’t be the only fauna hanging out in your catmint. Bees love nepetas and will be frequent visitors to these plants.
Did you know?
Nepeta faassenii is a cousin to the wonderfully charming, blue flowering Dracocephalum argunense (Dracocephalum sibiricum is now classified as Nepeta sibiricum). Commonly called dragon’s head, D. argunense’s vivid cyan-blue, hooded flowers feature delicate hairs that give them a distinctive fuzzy appearance.
Most plants referred to as catmint are N. faassenii varieties or hybrids such as ‘Six Hills Giant’ and ‘Blue Wonder.’ Nepeta racemosa is noteworthy for the ‘Walker’s Low’ variety. There are, however, other interesting species in the nepeta genus. How about N. tuberosa, a taller (up to 2 feet) species with larger, felty gray leaves and, once established, stands of 4-inch-tall royal purple flower spikes. There is also a pink flowering species, the oddly named N. nuda, which can reach 3 feet tall.
Grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or part shade. Water regularly to establish, then reduce to a low to moderate schedule. Propagate by softwood cuttings. USDA zones 4-8.
Pests and diseases
Other than your cats trampling the plants, very little seems to bother catmints.
Nepeta faassenii and racemosa varieties are commonly found at your neighborhood nursery. N. tuberosa and N. nuda can be found at Annie’s Annuals (anniesannuals.com). Catmints are also easily grown from seed.
Erle Nickel is a nurseryman, gardening writer and photographer. Read his blog at normsnursery.blogs pot.com. E-mail: [email protected]