If you're looking to work a catnip plant into your garden or yard, whether for landscaping or a friendly feline, you're fortunate, because catnip is an easy plant to take care of. First, it's important to point out two different types: Nepata cataria is the most commonly known, as it is the type to which cats are primarily attracted. A second varietal, Nepata mussinnii, is sometimes referred to as catmint, and it is not as appealing to cats. Below is some good information to know for catnip care and maintenance.
1. Characteristics of the Plant
Catnip is what is known as a herbaceous, perennial plant grown in North America. In other words, it is a plant that lives more than two years and has stems and leaves that die or fall down to soil level at the end of growing season. It can reach a size of about 3x3 feet, producing small white flowers from stems that are largely square, resembling many plants in the mint and weed families. Catnip is considered an invasive plant. Nepata mussinnii in particular is known for its spreading, and makes great groundcover. Catnip is not just pleasing to cats, as it effuses a pleasant fragrance to the human nose, too.
2. Sun, Moisture, and Planting
Catnip is such a versatile plant that it is drought resistant. Grow the plant in spring or early summer. You may plant it directly in the sun or in a partially shaded area. It thrives most in alkaline soil, or soil with a pH level over seven, but in general it manages in poor soil. This said, if you have a heavy, clay soil, add limestone to it to increase its alkalinity. To plant, dig a hole that is just as deep as the plant container is wide. Make sure the hole is twice as wide or more, however. Next, simply take the plant from its container, put the plant roots in the hole and refill it with soil.
3. Water and Fertilizing
Water the plant thoroughly right after planting it, and keep doing so two times a week for the first couple of weeks. After, draw back to watering once every two weeks, varying on temperatures. You may adjust if it is very high or hot.
Catnip requires little fertilizer. If you do use fertilizer, use a water-soluble flower fertilizer over two weeks. During the fall and winter, do not fertilize it, as it will be useless to the plant and wasted.
4. Upkeep and Harvesting
To get the best structured and shaped plants, clip them off while growing, and they will become more dense. If you are wary of cats damaging the plant, it is best to get a fence or partition to protect it. For harvesting, you need to wait until flowering. Late morning or midday is the best time to harvest, as a dry sunny day is best, and the dew will have dried. Simply cut the plant at its base, turn it upside down, and hang it in a dark and clear space, preferably dry.
Catnip can be grown in zones three through nine.