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NEPETA cataria

Image of Nepeta cataria

Jessie Keith

Family

Lamiaceae

Botanical Name

NEPETA cataria

Plant Common Name

Cat Nip, Catnip

General Description

There are several Nepeta species that attract cats, but the aptly named Nepeta cataria is the true catmint that sends felines into an unmistakable state of gleeful madness. This hardy perennial originates from Europe and Asia but has become naturalized in many other parts of the world.

Catnip is a member of the mint family, so its fuzzy, oval, gray-green leaves are highly aromatic. In summer, it produces marginally showy spikes of small, white, tubular, two-lipped flowers. The blooms are followed by lots of small brown fruits that produce tons of viable seed.

Culture is simple and straight forward. Catnip is both heat and drought tolerant and thrives in full to partial sun and well-drained average soil. The only problem is that it self-sows aggressively, so the spent flowers of garden specimens should be cut back before they can produce seed. Otherwise, you will be weeding out seedlings for years to come.

Catnip is suitable as a container plant, if kept well trimmed. Its tall habit also gives it a subtly pleasing presence in sunny mixed borders as well as herb gardens. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and the foliage really attracts cats. As a matter of fact, the plants often need protection from these pointy eared pets.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    32'-3' / 9.8m - 0.9m

  • Width

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Europe, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Lavender

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes