Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Nepeta cataria (catnip) is a plant that owes its name to the effect it causes on felines. These plants have an active substance called Neptalactone that acts as a pheromone, attracting, relaxing or stimulating most felines. This substance present in the plant causes a state of euphoria in domestic cats, as well as in some other felines such as leopards and tigers. In humans it does not cause any noticeable effect, and the young leaves and branches can be used as seasoning or as tea. Its flavor and aroma is similar to that of mint.
In this article
Plant profileCommon name: Catnip
Scientific name: Nepeta cataria
Plant type: Perennials
Habit: Mat forming
Height: 50cm - 1.5m
Spread: 50cm - 1.5m
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial shade
Soil: Chalk, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Moist but well drained, Well drained
Garden type: City & Courtyard Gardens, Informal Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Rock & Gravel Garden
Planting type: Containers & Pots, Flower borders and bedding, Ground Cover, Low Maintenance
Catmints are herbaceous plants, mostly perennial, with strong, branched stems that measure about 50cm to 1m in height. They have opposite, rough, greyish-green and very aromatic leaves. The inflorescences are terminal, in spike, with numerous flowers, tubular, blue, white or violet, that form in the spring and summer. Flowering is quite attractive to bees and butterflies.
How to plant
Catnip is suitable for planting alone or in groups, forming dense masses in borders or along paths. The spacing between the plants can be from 30 to 60 cm. It is a very versatile plant and looks good in several styles of gardens, being very popular in country style gardens or country house, Mediterranean or rocky. It also serves as ground cover and is suitable for slopes. Cat’s herbs have a natural rounded shape, are low maintenance and can also be planted in pots.
Catnip grows best in the temperature range between 4°C and 21°C, although it can withstand in lower or higher temperatures.
The cat’s herb should be grown under full sun.
It can be grown on virtually any type of soil, provided it is well drained. Ideally the soil should be fertile, light, well drained and enriched with organic matter.
Water to keep the soil moist in the first few months, but not soaked. Well-developed plants can be irrigated less frequently as they like some drought. Excess water in the soil can damage these plants.
Sow in the final place of garden or in sowing containers. Germination takes about a week or two. Transplant 1 month after germination. Seeds, which are small, should not be sown more than 0.5 cm deep in the soil. Alternatively, the seeds may be left on the surface, being covered only by a thin layer of soil.
Catweed can also be propagated by dividing well-developed plants or by cutting, using the younger branches of a well-developed plant.