This perennial flower that thrives in cool climates often features blue trumpet-shaped flower clusters and grey-green leaves with a distinctive mint scent. Even though it’s frequently called catnip, cats don’t find it to be as alluring as the real stuff. However, I’ve seen that if given the chance, our cat will indulge herself. Although the plant can reach a height of 3 feet, it frequently sprawls, creating a grey-green ground cover. In the late spring and early summer, it blooms profusely. In hot temperatures in the middle of the summer, it frequently temporarily stops flowering before starting up again in the early fall, especially if the plant is vigorously trimmed down. Catmint blooms are beloved by butterflies, hummingbirds, and other useful insects.
In our location, catmint is resilient, though certain types may require winter protection in colder climates. Despite the fact that it may be grown from seed, it is considerably simpler to buy plants from a nearby nursery or get divisions from a friend’s garden in the early spring when it first begins to grow. From early spring through early fall, sow. It is simple to divide catmint. Catmint should be planted in full or partial sun in humus-rich, compost-added soil that is well-drained. Plant where it will receive afternoon shade if you’re growing in one of our region’s warmer areas. In the garden, space plants 1 to 2 feet apart.
Water newly planted plants well. They may be resistant of drought once they have grown. To help keep weeds at bay and the soil continuously moist, mulch with bark and spread compost around the base of plants in the spring.
If you aggressively deadhead flowers and prune the plant back by two-thirds after each flush of blooms, you may keep catmint in practically constant bloom from late spring until fall. After a few years, springtime division of the plant will encourage renewed development and result in the production of more plants for friends and other plantings. Catmint doesn’t self-sow because it has few pests and sterile seeds.
The traditional cottage garden plant catmint frequently grows with peonies, roses, coreopsis, and delphiniums. It’s a fantastic filler plant to add color and green foliage between later blooming flowers because of its spreading tendency. It thrives when planted in rock gardens next to walls so that it can cascade over them. It can look a little rangy, so it’s not the best option for more formal settings.
With blue-violet flowers and a neater appearance than other types since it doesn’t spread as much, Walker’s Low is a more recent variation.
White Wonder and “Snowflake” are rare white blooming plants that only reach a height of one foot.
The enormous plant and bright blue flowers of Six Hills Giant are well recognized.
Dark blue flowers on 1 to 2 foot tall stems are produced by Blue Wonder.
Spreads catmint quickly?
Plants that grow quickly called catmints. They start out in the spring by growing neat tiny piles of tidy new leaves. This spreads widely swiftly when plants start to form their flower buds. Walker’s Low is one of the cultivars that is grown the most frequently. But despite its name, this plant is in no way low-growing. These plants grow rapidly to their full size, which is around 3 feet tall by 3 feet broad. Many of the catmints grow leggy and flop open once their impressive flowering display is over. If this is the case, giving the plants a good cutback will quickly fix the problem. If you’re lucky, this will stimulate a second set of blossoms in addition to a wonderful new flush of growth.
Catmints’ hardiness and tolerance of poor soil conditions are two of their best qualities. Look no farther if you’ve previously struggled with growing anything in dense, dry clay. Catmint can take it and continue to flourish. But it’s crucial to remember that some plants do enjoy some sunshine. Although they can tolerate some shade, they are considerably more likely to flop open. It’s also crucial to keep in mind that many catmint species have a tendency to spread like weeds in gardens. If this worries you, opt for sterile types like “Walker’s Low” that won’t spread and create any further issues. Also recognized for withstanding hard winters is catmint.
Where should catmint be placed?
- ‘Walker’s Low’ plants are 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide, with lavender-blue flowers. As a side note, the name is not short because it derives from an Irish garden. It is actually almost as tall as the “Six Hills Giant.” Walker’s Low was chosen by the Perennial Plant Association as their Perennial of the Year for 2007.
Don’t restrict yourself to just these four options if you feel driven to hunt for catmint in your neighborhood garden centers. Numerous other top-notch cultivars are also readily available, including “Dropmore,” “Blue Wonder,” and “Junior Walker,” a scaled-down variety of “Walker’s Low” that stands 16 inches tall.
- Catmint tends to grow wider than tall, so give it lots of room.
- Even while catmint likes direct sunlight, it can also tolerate moderate afternoon shadow.
- Water new plants or transplants until they can survive on their own. Following that, established plants can withstand heat and drought.
- Never fertilize it again. Catmint prefers well-drained, somewhat fertile soil. In fact, a plant may flip over or split in half if the soil is excessively rich. In that case, trim the plant back to make it look neat. Compost added in the spring or fall will provide the plant the nutrients it needs to thrive.
- After the first blooming flush of the plants has finished, shear them back by a third or more. The plants will be more orderly, their size will be limited, and this will encourage a second rush of blossoms later in the summer. The plant will still bloom often and maintain its lovely appearance during the stifling summer months even without being sheared.
- Over the winter, keep any dead foliage in place to help protect the crown. Wait till the beginning of spring to trim it.
- Divide catmint every three to four years, preferably in the spring or early fall, to maintain it healthy. During the first growing season, until the plants take root, keep it well-watered.
- Catmint varieties can grow to be quite huge. Pinch the plant back in the spring after it has grown a few inches tall to encourage a bushier growth habit if you wish to limit the plant’s total size.
- Cut a vertical chunk off of an established clump of catmint in the spring to reproduce it. Make sure the division has a strong root system and a number of new shoots. Till the plant takes root, keep it well-watered.
- Cuttings can also be used to spread catmint. Before flower buds grow in the spring, clip healthy shoots at a length of three inches. The cuttings should be placed in a moist medium, such as sand or a peat-perlite mixture. Within two to three weeks, they should start to root.
- Catmint is typically unaffected by either pests or illnesses. The only issue that can occasionally arise is leaf spot. There is no consensus that the severity of this fungus illness justifies control measures.
- Experience has taught me that some cats are drawn to catmint. If you’re worried about this, cover newly planted or transplanted catmint with chicken wire to stop your cat from consuming it or rolling about in it.
- This plant attracts butterflies and bees like crazy. Additionally, hummingbirds adore it.
- You’ll adore this plant if your garden is plagued by four-legged animals other than cats. Deer, voles, and rabbits are deterred by the foliage’s minty aroma. THIS is a plant that pays for itself, at last!
Catmint: is it an invasive species?
They believed it would entice cats to prey on rodents hiding about the farm or house. However, current research suggests that catmint may not just be discovered around the foundations of historic European homes and barns. According to a recent USDA study, termites are unlikely to dig tunnels through soil where catmint flourishes. Naturally, a moat made of this plant would prevent these pests from penetrating the wood of a hut or cottage.
Termites, mosquitoes, and cockroaches are all repelled by the same chemical that draws cats. Nepeta cataria, also referred to as common catnip, is a plant that contains it. Nepetalactone, a terpene found in these herbs, has been shown to be several times more effective at repelling insects than harmful DEET. To influence a cat, the plants release oils that must be breathed rather than consumed. This explains why cats are so prone to rolling around in catmint plants. More volatile oils are released from the leaves when it is bruised. Cats can detect airborne odors down to one part per billion.
Not all felines react the same way to these herbs. In fact, roughly 30% of household cats might not even respond to catmint. It’s a hereditary reaction that can vary in intensity from person to person and is inherited. Strangely, until they are at least 3 months old, extremely young kittens rarely react to nepetalactone.
There are a dizzying variety of plants in the genus Nepeta. The large invasive plant known as true catmint is described above. It grows to a height of three feet and bears few white blooms. It usually only appears in herb gardens and has very nothing to recommend it in terms of aesthetics. Due to its hardiness up to Zone 3, it is a fantastic choice for gardens in the north.
Through natural cross-pollination and human breeding, numerous species have been introduced into gardens over time and transformed into new varieties. The outcome is a wide variety of garden-worthy catmints that are much better prospects for your yard than the usual kind. Keep in mind that these newcomers won’t be as resistant to the cold as the species is. The majority, but not all, are sterile, preventing plants from spreading outward in the absence of viable seed. Simply deadhead the blossoms once they are spent to stop seed formation in order to completely prevent self sowing.
The Six Hills Giant, which stands 3 feet tall, is the most impressive version. Late in the summer, foot-long spikes of dark violet blooms appear on lush, spherical plants. It is generally accessible and a superb option for novice growers.
Nepeta racemosa “Walker’s Low,” which has a shorter size, is an excellent edging plant. A gentle carpet of blue fills up the front of a border. It only grows to a height of 18 inches but produces dense clusters of vividly blue flower spikes. Walkers Low and Six Hills are resilient to Zone 5.
Catmints typically grow best in sandy, well-drained soils, although they will grow almost anywhere that isn’t moist. Late in the growing season, they can become rangy, and regular trimming is beneficial to prevent the taller forms from flopping in the rain.
Today, catmint merits another look as a natural pest deterrent for eco-friendly dwellings. wherever there is a chance of infestation, plant. Kittie won’t overdose, though, as cats all seem to have a sense of proportion.
What else could I grow next to catmint?
There are numerous different plant combinations that are effective with catmint. Consider growing verbena, agastache, lavender, and tufted hairgrass alongside catmint as companion plants.
Plant catmint in a dramatic border with irises and Siberian spurge, or add a splash of color with yarrow to the previously stated rose and catmint combination. For long-lasting blossoms and minimal upkeep, combine yarrow, catmint, agastache, and foxtail lilies.
With catmint, allium, phlox, and white flower lace, spring irises go perfectly. Combine catmint with perennial grasses for a distinct texture. Sneezeweed, catmint, and dahlias all produce magnificent flowers that endure far into the early fall.
Catmint enhances the beauty of coneflower, daylily, and black-eyed susan.
With catmint, the planting combinations are virtually endless. Just keep in mind to group similar plants together. Those that are tolerant of your region and appreciate comparable conditions to catmint, including full sun, average garden soil, and little to no water.
Catmint vs. Catnip
Which is better, catnip or catmint? Plant common names can be confusing, especially when they sound so similar. Nepeta cataria, a widespread member of the mint family with white flowers that can be found all over the United States, particularly in disturbed areas, is known as catnip. These low-growing plants are a favorite among cats, and dried leaf cat toys are known to drive cats crazy.
On the other hand, catmint, another member of the mint family, is a stunning decorative plant that is hardy and flexible but is not as well-liked by domestic cats.
Walker’s Low Catmint: Nearly Perfect
Nepeta faassenii, often known as Walker’s Low catmint, has long served as the benchmark catmint in western gardens. In May, mounds of glistening periwinkle blue flowers begin to open, continuing for one to two months.
The blooms are a haven for hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, and bees, but deer and rabbits appear to avoid them. Catmints are nearly ideal plants since they can withstand drought, bloom for a long time, and withstand our harsh weather.
That is, almost flawless, barring two aspects. The weight of the blooms eventually causes the stalks to drop, opening and flattening the plant’s core, which causes all catmints to flop out a little after blooming.
The majority of catmints found at garden centers are fertile, which means that after blooming and receiving pollinator fertilization, they set viable seeds that disperse throughout the garden and result in an abundance of seedlings growing. Free seedlings are occasionally appreciated (especially those of such a lovely plant), but they are frequently an annoyance.
One more warning: Walker’s Low isn’t actually that “low.” Walker’s Low has a height range of 24 to 30 inches, which is quite low compared to Six Hills Giant, the previous benchmark for garden catmints, which reaches a height of 3 feet. Walker’s Low is actually not as low as its name suggests considering how little it is!
Little Trudy: Compact and Not a Spreader
Try Little Trudy catmint if you want a catmint with a neater appearance, one that stays compact and is more suited for small gardens, or one that won’t seed itself.
Before being released by Plant Select in 2008, Little Trudy was found at Little Valley Wholesale Nursery in Brighton, Colorado, and tested at Colorado State University and the Denver Botanic Gardens. It begins to bloom in the late spring and will continue to softly blossom all summer long. When crushed, the tiny, grey-green leaves release a pleasant scent.
Wildlife benefits: Pollinators such as moths, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are drawn to stalks of small, purple-blue blooms.
Growing advice: If desired, prune back the first heavy flush of blooms; a second full flush will occur later in the summer.