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The Elizabethan herbalist Gerard noted: "They do call it herba cataria and herba catti because cats are very much delighted herewith, for the smell of it is so pleasant unto them that they will rub themselves upon it and wallow or tumble in it and also feed on the branches and leaves very greedily."
What cats are actually fond of is a component of the mint's oil called nepetalactone (C10H14O2), a relatively simple organic compound.
Besides being grown for the enjoyment of cats, catnip has a history of use as a beverage and a medicine. Before European trade with China began bringing large quantities of fine eastern tea to Europe, catnip tea was a domestic favorite especially among tea loving residents of the British Isles.
Nepeta x faassenii
This perennial cousin of catnip forms a low-growing bush of attractive, silvery grey foliage followed by lavender-like spires of tiny purple flowers. But it does not have the same ecstasy-inducing effect on cats, so it will not get destroyed in your garden. Catmint is hardy in Zones 3-9, and grows to an eventual spread of 1m (3') or so. Very attractive to bees! Grow in full or part sun.
HR1115 A (0.1g) approximately 124 seeds
HR1115 B (1g) approximately 1240 seeds
HR1115 C (5g) approximately 6200 seeds
HR1115 D (25g) approximately 31000 seeds
Not just for cats! Tall pink and white flower spikes are great in fresh and dried arrangements. Use the leaves in salads, sauces, teas, and soups - and of course fresh or dried for the cats! Catnip is a good bee attractor that works well in containers on cat-free balconies. Protect seedlings from cats.
HR1049 A (0.25g) approximately 400 seeds
HR1049 B (2g) approximately 3200 seeds
HR1049 C (5g) approximately 8000 seeds
HR1049 D (100g) approximately 160000 seeds
HR1049 E (500g) approximately 800000 seeds