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How Do I Care for a Catnip Plant?

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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Cats love catnip, but it's not just cats that can enjoy it. This plant belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family, and the edible, fragrant leaves can be used to flavor tea and food. In the garden, the fragrant leaves can help to deter some insects, including flee beetles and ants. Catnip plant grows easily with minimal care. Once properly planted, the plants can be covered to protect them from roaming cats until they're established. Otherwise, the plants are very hardy and require minimal maintenance.

Catnip plant can be planted from starts in spring in a cleared, prepared garden bed after the last frost date has passed. Starts are spaced 6 to 8 inches (about 15 to 20 cm) apart. After planting, the planting bed should be thoroughly soaked to establish the plants and settle the soil. The plants can also be started from seed in late fall indoors or in a greenhouse and planted outside the following spring. Established catnip plants can be divided in spring for propagation.

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This herb grows best in full sun but tolerates part sun and part shade conditions. Loamy soil with good drainage and a pH of 6.5 is ideal, but catnip is hardy and can grow in clay or rocky soil conditions as well. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer can be used in spring to provide nutrients for the growing season. Seasoned manure or compost, spread as a mulch layer around each plant, is an alternative way to add nutrients to the soil.

Given the love cats have for catnip, young plants can be vulnerable to the resident or wandering cat population. As such, when first planted, catnip plants should be protected. A wire cage over the plants can keep them from harm until they get established. A cat rolling in a healthy bed of established catnip will crush some plants but is unlikely to do permanent damage. Like other members of the mint family, the catnip plant is hardy and resilient.

Catnip can be harvested throughout the growing season by taking a few sprigs from each plant. In early fall, after the plants flower and die back, the stalks should be cut down at the soil line. The area above the roots can be mulched with a layer of straw, wood chips or leaf mold to insulate it through the winter. The catnip plant is hardy down to -13°F (about -25°C) when the roots are dormant. In the spring, the mulch layer should be pulled away to allow the new green growth to emerge.

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donasmrs
Post 3

@ddljohn-- If you know someone who has a catnip plant, you can just take a cutting and plant it. It grows from seeds too, it just takes longer.

If you plant it in the garden, just make sure to cover it in winter. It won't die.

fBoyle
Post 2

@ddljohn-- No, it's not difficult to grow catnip at all. It does perfectly fine in the yard and in a pot. But I must say that in the yard, catnip plants grow and spread very quickly so they could take over your garden in a fairly short amount of time. If you don't want that, it's better to just grow it in a pot inside the house, next to a window.

I grow mine in a pot in my bedroom. I don't actually give my cat access to it all the time because she goes a little crazy with it and starts biting on all the leaves and digging the dirt. I let her play with the leaves for a few minutes every once in a while. She loves it.

ddljohn
Post 1

I have three cats who love catnip and since I just bought a house with a nice garden, I'm thinking about planting a catnip plant for them. Plus, I heard that cats love fresh catnip much more than the dried one.

Is a catnip plant difficult to care for? Is it better off in the garden or in a pot inside the house?

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