Growing catnip is primarily thought to be an exercise in providing amusement for the cat population but it is a primary ingredient in many traditional Chinese herbal recipes.
If you want to drive your cat nuts – then crush some of the leaves of a healthy plant.
If the leaves remain uncrushed then cats will ignore the plant. It is the oil/fragrance that drives them nuts.
Having said that – once a cat learns where the patch is, it will crush its own leaves by lying in the patch.
How To Make Your Own Cat Toys
Note you can harvest your catnip, dry it and then stuff it into an old sock to make your own cat toys.
Simple to do! If you keep the excess dried herb in a glass jar, you can empty and refill the sock to keep your feline friend happy all winter.
Our cat Friday enjoying his catnip patch. He was one blissed-out cat for sure!
Mice Don’t Like Catnip
While cats love the stuff, I’m told that mice and rats hate it (so would you if you were a mouse and knew that a big fat cat was likely to be hanging around in the patch waiting for a snack).
All of the mint family (and catnip is a mint) love cool moist areas with full sunlight. This plant will, however, grow in part shade. And like all the rest of the mint family, this is described in garden books as a “vigorous” plant. This means it may take over the garden if left unchecked.
Luckily you can deadhead the flowers to prevent it from setting seed – and cut off spreading rhizomes in the spring with a shovel to stop it from invading other plants.
Growing Catnip in Winter
You can keep your cat quite happy in the winter if you dig up some roots in the fall, pot them up and grow at 60F in the full sunlight. Your feline friend will think it has died and gone to heaven with its own source of growing catnip. Note this plant will not thank you for this – and if you try to replant it in the spring, it may simply die off (it wants to go dormant and when you bring it indoors, you prevent this) So only take a small offshoot for your cat.
Germinating Catnip Seed Indoors
- Seed is easy to germinate, sow the seed a half-inch apart and barely cover.
- Soil temperature is fine for 65F meaning normal room temperature will suffice to keep this seed warm enough.
- Sow in April for an outdoor transplanting after all danger of frost has disappeared.
Starting This Herb Outdoors
- You can direct sow this plant where you want it to grow. Sow the seed outdoors in early May and barely cover it with soil or start indoors.
- Water daily with a fine nozzle until you see seedlings. Keep soil dampish until the plants have four to six full sized leaves and then prepare to fight off its spreading nature by ignoring it except for a weekly watering.
- Full sunshine for best results!
Growing catnip isn’t all that difficult and your cat will thank you for your efforts.
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