Catmint or Catnip for
and Bees: Growing, Harvesting, Using
are 2 kinds of catmint,
from the mint family and often confused; catnip and catmint.
They grow the same way, they are great spreaders that like full sun and
For the cat, there is only one type of mint and that is the mint called
catnip - Nepeta Cataria, that
grows 2 - 4
feet tall. This is the one that makes cats go crazy for. It has
gray-green, downy leaves and either lavender or white flowers in
This catnip is the perennial herb that is attractive to most cats and
known as Pussy's
To confuse matters further, it is also known as Cataria, Catnep, Catrup, Cat's Heal All, Cat's-play, Cat's Wort, Catswort, Catwort, Chi Hsueh Tsao, Field Balm, Garden Nep, Herba Cataria, Herba Catti, Nebada, Nep.
Catnip and Cats
Cats not only eat it, but they rub themselves against it, roll in it,
and purr with delight while doing it. Kitty's answer to Prozac!
Although having said that it has different affects on cats.
I have seen some cats going absolutely gaga over catnip and being very
chilled out, others being very hyped up by it, and others still being
very aggressive after their encounter and wanting to fight with all and
sundry. However, this probably based on the type of interaction with
Cats that just sniff this type of mint are hyped up, those that
actually eat the leaves are calmed by it as it acts as a sedative. For
those cats that become aggressive you probably find that they have
eaten some of the root as it is said that those that do, even humans,
end up feeling aggressive and acting with aggression.
The word "catmint" used to mean both types of catnip; more recently it
is used as the common name for N. faassenii only. Nepeta faassenii, a.k.a. N.
also has grey-green leaves and bee-attracting, lavender blue flowers in
It is much more ornamental and your kitty will not go crazy
this type of mint like the first type. Also, deer don't seem to like
this plant either. It is drought resistant once it gets established,
and is perfect for zones 5-9. Finally, the butterflies love this type
of catmint as do the bees, so ideal if you want to attract both to your
garden, especially if you are into beekeeping.
Moses Quinby, the famous American beekeeper, is said to have stated
that if he were to grow any plant intensively for the honey it produces
that plant would be catnip. As a result the Nepeta faassenii
plant or "Faassen'sCatnip" is
often planted in waste
areas for this purpose.
Description of Catmint
Its erect, square, branching stems, from 18 to 36 inches
notched oval or heart-shaped leaves, whitish below, and during late
summer terminal clusters of white flowers in small heads, far apart
below, but crowded close above.
The fruits are small, brown, oval, smooth and with three clearly
definite angles. An ounce contains about 3,400 seeds. Viability lasts
for five years.
Growing Catmint and Catnip
Before you grow your
catnip you will need to make sure that your little
plants are protected from your cats until they get established. If you
don't they will roll on them and damage
them before they can come to
Catnip of catmint can either be grown from seed, by cutting or by
sub-dividing larger plants.
Catmint and catnip will grow
with very little attention on any fairly
dry soil, although will do just as well on fertile soil that is
protected from cold winds. Although they prefer to be planted in full
sun, they will also grow in partial shade. If you plant your catnip or
catmint in sandy soil you will get a stronger flavor from the leaves
than if you plant it in clay soils.
The herb seed
is sown in autumn or spring once the soil has warmed up,
either in situ or for subsequent transplanting. If the catnip is kept
in a garden bed they should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart each way.
Nothing is needed except to keep down the weeds in order to have them
succeed for several years on the same spot.
Harvesting Catmint and Catnip
Harvest your catmint or catnip when the mint is in full bloom. Cut the
tops off the plants and tie bunches together and dry upside down high
up and away from your pussy cat. You can also dry the mint in the oven.
Remove the leaves, place on a single layer on a baking sheet and bake
at 110° F until dry and crumbly. You can use these for stuffing little
felt balls or mice for your cat to play with.
As a condiment the
be used in sauces; but the taste can be a bit strong. Still, the French
use catnip to a considerable extent.
The plant has been consumed as a tea, juice, tincture, infusion or
poultice, and has also been smoked. Catmint oil is also good for getting rid of cockroaches, flies
If you plant catmint in your borders and among your vegetables for companion
planting it will deter flea
beetles. When inter planted with potatoes and capsicums
also reduces aphids in your veggie patch.
Catmint leaves in herbal
tea recipes, either fresh or dried, is an excellent remedy
for menstrual problems,
however, if you
are pregnant avoid taking catmint.
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