How to Grow Catnip

Known in antiquity as “catswort.” Bees seem to prefer its flowers over most others, but a common plant pest in gardens, the flea beetle, is deterred by it. The universal appeal of this species to cats is underscored by the fact that the herb’s common name in every Western language contains some variation of the word “cat.” Follow along with this handy How to Grow Catnip from seeds guide and give your cats some fun!

Latin
Nepeta cataria
Family: Lamiaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 3-9

Timing
Sow seeds indoors in February and March, and transplant or direct sow in April and May. Can also be direct sown where it is to grow in September. Bottom heat will speed germination. Ideal temperature for germination: 21-27°C (70-80°F). Seeds should sprout in 10-20 days.

Starting
Sow on the soil surface or barely covered with perlite. Thin plants or transplant to 30cm (12″) apart. Keep seedlings well protected from cats!

Growing
Catnip does very well in containers, raised beds, or borders in full sun to partial shade. The main challenge to growing it is protecting it from cats. After the main bloom, plants should be cut back hard to encourage a second bloom and tidy shape.

Harvest
To save the summer catmint bounty, harvest when fully grown, and keep the plant picked regularly.

Seed Info
Usual seed life: 5 years.

Companion Planting
Attracts pollinators (and cats!), but repels aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, ants, weevils, and squash bugs.

More on Companion Planting.

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