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How to Grow Nepeta — Catmint

Nepeta Catmint

Nepeta–commonly called Catmint–has spikes of lilac-purple flowers, irresistible to bees, from summer to fall. Catmint is a bushy perennial with grayish-green aromatic leaves. Plant catmint at the front of cottage beds or as path edging. Cut the plant back between flushes to repeat flowering.

Grower taller Nepetas in mixed herbaceous borders and the shorter ones in rock gardens. Some species attract cats; most attract bees.

Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of perennials; most are native to high mountains in non-tropical parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Blue Nepeta flower
Blue Nepeta flower

Get to Know Nepeta

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 4-9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -35°F (-37°C)
  • Height and width: 12 to 36 inches (30-91cm) tall; 12 to 48 inches (30-120cm) wide
  • Foliage: Ovate to lance-shaped aromatic leaves; some are hairy producing a silvery-gray or grayish-green effect.
  • Flowers: Tubular, irregularely 2-lipped flowers on spike like racemes or panicles
  • Flower colors: Blue
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Edging near patios, walkways, and rock walls; plant near yellow and pink flowers
  • Common name: Catmint
  • Botanical name: Nepeta x faassenii
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Origin: Most are native to high mountains in non-tropical parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Where to Plant Nepeta

  • Plant Nepeta in full sun; catmint tolerates light shade.
  • Grow Nepeta in sandy, well-drained soil—does not grow well in clay or wet spots.

Nepeta Uses and Companions

  • Use Nepeta in mixed or herbaceous borders; smaller varieties can be used in rock gardens.
  • Nepeta is a classic edging for rose gardens. Use Nepeta in formal gardens.
  • Nepeta combines we’ll with red, purple, pink, pale yellow, and white.
  • Good garden companions for Nepeta include Asclepias tuberosa, Belamcanad chinensis, Centranthus rubber, Coreopsis, Euphorbia, Iris, Limonium latifolium, Verbena.
Catmint, Nepeta racemosa
Catmint, Nepeta racemosa

When to Plant Nepeta

  • Set Nepetain the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Also set plants in the garden in fall.

Planting and Spacing Nepeta

  • Space Nepeta 1 to 4 feet apart.

How to Water and Feed Nepeta

  • Nepeta needs moderate to light moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Nepeta does not need fertilizing.

Catmint Care

  • Mulch around Nepeta to conserve soil moisture.
  • Shear Nepeta back by one-third after flowering to promote fresh growth and new blooms.
  • Divide Nepeta in spring every 3 to 4 years as need.
  • Nepeta is usually pest and disease-free. Cats will roll on plants.

Nepeta Pests and Diseases

  • Nepeta is sometimes affected by leaf spots.
Springtime Nepeta
Springtime Nepeta

Nepeta Propagation

  • Nepta seeds germinate in 8 to 12 days at 68° to 86°F (20°-30°C).
  • Sow seed in a seedbed or in containers in a cold frame in autumn.
  • Divide Nepeta in spring or autumn.
  • Take softwood cuttings in early summer.

Nepeta Varieties to Grow

  • Nepeta cataria, catnip: Grows 2 to 3 feet tall with downy gray-green leaves and clustered lavender or white flowers at branch tips; blooms in late spring or early summer; sprinkle dried leaves over cat bedding.
  • N. x faassenii is catmint: grows to 18 inches tall forming soft gray-green undulating mounds; bears loose spikes of blue flowers in late spring or early summer; often sold as N. mussinni; cultivars includes ‘Six Hills Giant’ is large and spreads to 4 feet with violet-blue flowers, and ‘Walker’s Low’ is low growing and cascading.
  • N. sibirica, forms dark-green clump to 24 inches tall; bears spikes of bright blue flowers in early suymmer.

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