Catnip Growing Guide

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is an aromatic herb member of the mint family native to Europe and Asia. It has been used medicinally by humans for centuries and is now widely used by pet owners to make their cats happy. 

Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which acts as a stimulant for cats when inhaled or eaten. There are two types of catnip: the leafy green variety commonly found in pet stores and the more potent dried version that comes in a small pouch. 

Both types contain nepetalactone and are equally effective at triggering a response from cats, although some cats may be more responsive to one type than another. For best results, fresh catnip should be grown at home so that it is always ready to use whenever your cat needs extra stimulation. 

When to Plant Catnip?

Catnip is a hardy perennial herb and can be planted in the late spring or early summer as soon as the soil temperature reaches around 70°F (21°C) in North America. This typically occurs in May or June, so you should wait until then to sow seeds. In the summer months, small white flowers will emerge from the plant.

You can also propagate catnip seedlings indoors earlier in the year, giving them plenty of sunshine and warmth and transplanting them later when the frost has passed, and the outdoor temperatures are suitable. 

Where to Plant Catnip?

The ideal location for catnip plants is somewhere with full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade as well. Pay attention to soil type when looking for a spot for your catnip. Catnip seeds are easy to grow in well-drained soil that is moderately fertile and slightly acidic, such as loamy soil. 

Spacing and Depth

Once you have chosen a location for your catnip plants, always remember to space them out accordingly—they should be placed 12-18 inches apart (30-45 cm). As far as depth goes, seeds should only be sown shallowly at 1/8 inches (3 mm) deep into the soil. 

Once your plant grows taller than one foot (30 cm), consider providing it with some kind of support structure, such as bamboo sticks or a trellis, so it doesn’t topple over because of its weight.

How to Grow Catnip in a Pot?

Growing catnip in pots can be a great way to bring nature indoors for those without access to garden space or living in an apartment. The key to successful potted catnip cultivation is using the correct pot size, choosing the right potting mix, and ensuring that your plants get enough light and water. 

Choose a pot at least 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) in diameter and has drainage holes at the bottom. The potting mix should be slightly acidic and contain organic matter such as compost or manure. You also want to ensure your catnip gets enough light; 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is ideal for potted plants. 

The amount of water you give your potted catnip should be based on the soil—water whenever the top inch (2.5 cm) of dirt feels dry. Careful monitoring is essential as catnip cannot tolerate soggy roots, so be sure not to overwater your plants. You can also add fertilizer or mulch around the base of your catnip every few weeks for extra nutrition.

Caring for Catnip Plants

Once your catnip is planted, it’s time to take care of it. Here are some tips on how to keep your plants healthy, happy, and productive all season long:

  • Watering

Catnip plants thrive in moist soil and should be watered regularly. Aim to water your catnip twice a week, soaking the roots thoroughly each time. Water it early in the morning so the sun can dry out wet leaves and help prevent fungal diseases.

  • Protection

Catnip needs protection from cats rolling or scratching it and from pests like slugs, mites, and aphids. To protect your catnip from cats, you can use barriers like wooden lattices or trellises that they cannot get through. Pest control involves using natural remedies such as insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, or neem oil.

  • Temperature and Humidity Control

Catnip thrives best in temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). The humidity levels should also be kept low – around 40-50%, if possible—to discourage fungal growth on your plant’s leaves. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep the air optimal for your catnip plants.

  • Pruning 

Cut off any dead or diseased branches and remove any spent flowers before they go to seed; otherwise, you’ll have an abundance of new plants. When pruning, always use clean tools, so you don’t spread any diseases.

Harvesting Catnip

The leaves of catnip plants can be harvested from early summer until fall. Keep in mind that the more you pick, the faster your plant will grow back—so harvest often! 

Fresh green leaves and flowers can be stuffed into toys and placed around your home to stimulate cats through scent play that they naturally crave. 


Create a Stunning Pet-Friendly Garden 

Growing catnip is a rewarding experience for cats and their owners, plus it’s a great way to make your garden more pet-friendly. With the proper care and attention, you can have a lush and vibrant crop of catnip that will entertain your kitties.

For all your garden needs, trust HomesNGardens—the go-to source for helpful tips and information on everything related to homes and gardening.

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