The Best Catnip: Growing Organic Catnip for Pets and for Medicine

Growing catnip

Growing catnip in the garden can be simple. This mint is a plant for all pet lovers to grow.

Catnip. This inconspicuous member of the mint family Labiatae doesn’t look like anything special. To the gardeners who grow it and the cats who love it, catnip is a mint with a kick!

This mint is also known as Nepeta cateria, or cat mint. While cat lovers can buy cat toys with embedded catnip, cosmic catnip, and many other delights in the local pet store, those who love cats might consider growing it in the garden.

How Does Catnip Work?

The smell of catnip is what works its magic on cats. When a cat rubs against the plant, the leaves become bruised and broken. This releases a chemical called Nepetalactone, which is similar to a cat pheromone. Some cats ignore catnip, while others lick it, sniff it, or roll in it.

Why Grow Catnip?

Like any herb, the fresh or home-dried plant is a luxury not to be missed. Catnip stalks are fairly easy to grow and can be harvested and dried when they are about a foot tall, providing a steady source of catnip throughout the winter.

In some climates, catnip is hardy and maintains its leaves throughout the winter. Dry it and place it in toys as a Christmas gift for a favorite cat! Of course, homegrown catnip can also be organic and pesticide-free.

Starting Catnip from Seed

Growing catnip from seeds

Growing catnip from seed can be quite simple. The tricky part is finding the right seed. Look for Nepeta cateria, the only catnip plant that will actually attract cats. Begin growing catnip seeds about two months before the last frost.

Keep them moist, warm, and in full sun. As the spring goes on, gradually transfer the plants to the outdoors. Plant them in the garden when all danger of frost is past. This perennial plant prefers to grow in full sun, with moist soil.

Growing Catnip in the Garden

Catnip plant

Like most mint plants, catnip is fairly easy to grow. In fact, mint can be quite invasive if it is not properly contained. To keep catnip under control, grow it in a large pot above ground or buried under the ground.

Keeping the pot above ground also prevents the neighborhood cats from digging in and sitting on plants in the rest of the garden, since some cats enjoy cozying up to catnip.

Catnip as Herbal Medicine

Not all cats respond to catnip. In fact, thirty percent of cats don’t show much interest in it at all. If household cats don’t enjoy catnip, perhaps the human inhabitants can use it.

As a medicinal herb, catnip is high in iron, selenium, and potassium. It can also act as a sedative when brewed as a tea. And humans rarely feel the need to scratch on a post after taking it.

Cat mint, or catnip is a herb for a pet lover’s garden. It is simple to grow from seeds or from roots, and it’s a delight to neighborhood pets. This little mint is a worthy member of a herb garden.

Growing Organic Catnip for Pets and for Medicine


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