Favorite of cats. Green leaves are good for tea.
Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.
Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.
Life Cycle This refers to whether a plant is an annual, biennial or perennial. Annuals complete their life cycles in one year; biennials produce foliage the first year and bloom and go to seed the second year; perennials can live for more than two years.
Height The typical height of this product at maturity.
Spread The width of the plant at maturity.
Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.
Catnip may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, or directly sown into the garden.
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Sow catnip seeds indoors 4-8 weeks before the last frost in spring
- Sow seeds ¼ inches deep in seed-starting formula
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 14-21 days
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in average soil in full sun or light shade after danger of frost. In frost-free areas, sow from fall to early spring. Choose a location where vigorous plants can be easily controlled, such as in containers or a raised bed.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds evenly and cover with ¼ inches of fine soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 14-21 days.
- Thin to stand about 18 inches apart.
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For herbs, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Pinch the tops off young plants to encourage bushy growth. To encourage a flush of new growth, cut plants back by about one half after the first flush of bloom.
- Divide plants every 2 to 3 years to keep them vigorous and prevent them from spreading too much.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- Grow catnip for you feline friends, or use it yourself for a soothing tea. Leaves may be added to salads or to flavor foods.
- Catmints are marvelous as edgings for perennial beds and borders, as groundcovers under roses, or cascading over the edge of containers. They also attract numerous pollinators, and are great alongside the vegetable garden.
- Harvest leaves or whole stems as needed as soon as the plant is mature but before the leaves start turning yellow. Harvest in the morning before the heat of the day but after the dew had dried. Cut entire stems at the base of the plant. Strip leaves from stems.
- Store fresh catnip in the refrigerator for a few days.
- To dry, cut a bunch of stems on a sunny morning, tie them loosely and hang them in a dry, airy location out of the sun. Or, dry herbs in the oven for 2-3 hours on a cookie sheet at the lowest heat, leaving the over door open. Or, use a dehydrator following the manufacturer’s instructions. When plants are dry enough to store, a leaf will easily crumble between your fingers.
- When thoroughly dry, store herbs in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dry, dark location, such as a cupboard. Dried catnip can last for several months.