Welcome to the fascinating world of the Catnip plant (Nepeta cataria)! This remarkable – and invasive – herbaceous perennial, originating from Europe and Asia, has captured the attention of humans and feline friends alike. While it may seem like an ordinary plant to some, its extraordinary effects on cats have made it a subject of curiosity and intrigue. SPOILER ALERT! –> Unfortunately, it is toxic to cats.
Though, don’t let its popularity fool you, as caring for Catnip can be quite a breeze. This resilient plant thrives in various climates and soil conditions, making it relatively easy to grow in your garden or indoors.
Common Catnip varieties:
- “Grog” (Nepeta racemose)
- “Dawn to Dusk” (Nepeta grandiflora)
- “Blue Danube” (Nepeta grandiflora)
- “Odeur Citron” (Nepeta racemose)
Catnip plants, although not particularly difficult to care for, require attention to a few key factors.
- Light: they thrive in full sun, needing at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. In hot climates, providing some shade from the intense afternoon sun is beneficial.
- Soil: The soil should have good drainage and can range from poor and rocky to dry, with a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH.
- Water: Catnip is drought-tolerant, so avoid overwatering, keep the soil lightly moist for seedlings and provide deep watering if the foliage wilts during prolonged drought.
- Temperature: the plant prefers a range of 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and may struggle in hot and humid environments, necessitating good air circulation to prevent fungal growth.
Adding compost during planting offers a nutritional boost, while mature plants generally don’t require additional feeding. Lastly, catnip is a self-pollinating plant that attracts beneficial pollinators like bees to the garden.
Catnip readily spreads, but you can propagate it through cuttings or division.
For cuttings, take a 4-6″ stem, remove lower leaves, and place it in water or moist soilless mix. Roots will form within a week.
Division involves digging up the plant, dividing it, and replanting at the same depth.
To grow from seed, stratify them in the freezer, soak in water, then plant in moist seed-starting mix. Germination occurs within two weeks. Plant seedlings outdoors after frost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Historically, catnip has been utilized for its medicinal properties, aiding in treating various conditions such as intestinal cramps, indigestion, sweating, menstrual induction, sedation, and appetite stimulation. It has also been employed to address ailments like diarrhea, colic, the common cold, and even cancer.
Is catnip easy to grow?
As Catnip is an invasive plant, it is very easy to grow through self-propagation, cuttings, or division. It prefers a range of 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and may struggle in hot and humid environments, necessitating good air circulation to prevent fungal growth.
Can humans eat catnip?
It is safe for adult humans in small quantities (eating), but it is harmful when smoked.
Can you grow catnip in the house?
Catnip thrives on a sunny windowsill, making it an ideal low-maintenance houseplant for beginners. Include it in your indoor herb garden for a delightful addition.
What does catnip smell like?
Catnip has a distinct aroma that is often described as a combination of mint and earthy notes. It emits a herbal fragrance with hints of citrus and freshness. The scent is known to be highly attractive to cats, eliciting a variety of playful and euphoric behaviors.