Growing catnip seeds is an easy way to add this delightful plant to your garden. A relative of mint, catnip is best known for it's effect on cats. However, it is also an excellent insect repellant, tasty in cooking, and makes a tea that is good for insomnia and fevers. Catnip is a hardy perennial that grows well in partial shade or sun. Below are the steps to grow catnip for your garden from seed.
Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Step 1 - Start Before It's Warm
If you intend to plant your seedlings outside, then begin the germination a few weeks before you expect the weather to warm. If the seedlings are for inside, you can begin at any time as long as you have enough sunlight. Prepare trays or small pots of moist potting soil. Anything with a slightly acidic or slightly alkali pH will be acceptable.
Step 2 - Plant
Sow the seeds in the containers. You can sprinkle them over the surface of the soil, trying to aim for 1/2 to 1 inch of spacing between seeds. Alternately, press a pencil into the soil creating holes about 1/8 inch deep and at least 1 inch apart. Sprinkle seeds into each hole. In either case, cover the seeds with a light layer of soil.
Step 3 - Germinate
Cover the containers, trays, or pots, with a layer of plastic and place them in a dark place. Monitor the soil moisture regularly and add more water as needed, though the plastic should help keep moisture levels constant. The soil must stay moist until the seeds germinate. It will be 10 to 14 days before small green seedlings will begin to appear above the soil.
Step 4 - Transplant
Move your new seedlings to a sunny window and continue to keep the soil moist. They will need to continue to grow for another 2 to 5 weeks before being transplanted outside. If you want them in pots inside, divide and transplant into bigger pots once they have more than 6 mature leaves.
Starting Your Seeds Outdoors
Step 1 - Wait for Spring
Wait until the weather has turned warm and winter is truly over. Clear the space in which you want to plant your catnip. Be prepared to contain it, since catnip like other mints, will spread rapidly.
Step 2 - Plant
Moisten the soil and then sprinkle the seeds over the surface. Cover them with a thin layer of soil.
Step 3 - Water
Spray the area lightly with a nozzle set to disperse a fine mist of water on a daily basis. This will keep the soil moist and prevent the water from washing the seeds away. The plants should appear in 10 to 14 days.
Step 4 - Care
Keep the soil damp until the plants have four to six mature leaves. At this point, thin the plants to a spacing of 20 inches and resist watering more than once a week. Less water will help keep your catnip from spreading too far.