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Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

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Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Growing Information:

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)


SOWING TIME: Spring or Fall






Habitat and Description

Growing Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

As with most herbs, full sun, adequate moisture, and reasonable soil are all that is needed. Catnip will grow happily in patio pots or as a part of the vegetable or flower garden. Nearly pest-free, the worst damage usually comes from outside cats that discover the plants before they get well established. If your pet is allowed outdoors, by all means show him the plants. After the initial delight wears off, they usually leave the plants alone to grow strong and tall. Catnip can survive long periods of drought once it is growing well. In fact, this often intensifies the aroma by concentrating the essential elements that kitty loves.


You can begin harvesting catnip as soon as the stems get to about one foot tall, and continue cutting all summer. In mild climates, the plant will maintain a low rosette of leaves and can be picked through the winter. During the summer, you can cut a few sprigs of fresh catnip for kitty whenever you want to give him a treat. Don't be alarmed if kitty eats all the leaves.

Cut the stems when the leaves are dry of morning dew and hang upside down in an airy, shaded place to cure. When completely dried and crunchy, crumble the leaves into a paper bag and discard the stems. Store in plastic bags under lock and key. It has been my experience that many cats are able to open cupboards and remove bags of catnip. Most cats will have no trouble tearing open a plastic bag to get at the catnip inside.

When you give your cat toys filled with catnip, remember to keep a few extras inside the bag for later. Pom-poms of yarn are very nice toys that can be purchased at craft stores.


The benefits of Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

  • This herb is often used for seasoning and meat tenderizing
  • Catnip has a diaphoretic effect (increasing perspiration without raising body temperature) and antipyretic (anti-fever) effects. This leads to its uses to treat colds and and as an herbal remedy for symptoms of the flu (influenza).
  • A mild tea made of catnip may be effective in treating colic, restlessness, and nervousness in children.
  • The tonic and antispasmodic qualities of this herb help to relieve many gastrointestinal disorders and cramping.
  • A poultice of the leaves and flowers of catmint can be applied to reduce swelling from rheumatism, soft-tissue injuries and other inflammatory conditions.
  • A mixture of catnip tea and saffron has shown promise in treating scarlet-fever and small-pox.
  • Catnip is also used as a muscle relaxant and mild sedative, which is why it is often used to relieve the pain of headaches (especially tension headaches.) This also explains its use to combat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  • This plant has also been used to bring about the menses in delayed menstruation and increase tone in the uterus.
  • The essential oil, nepetalactone, found in catnip, has been shown to be at least as effective as DEET as an insect repellant. This also works as a flea treatment in animals or on carpets.

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