Sunday 8 June 2008

Growing catnip

growing catnip
Growing seeds (these are tomato seeds) photo Lucy Crosbie.

Growing catnip from seed is easy and buying the seeds is easy too. A quick search of the internet tells me that in the USA you can buy catnip seed from Roguelands Seed Company. Seed are of course ideal for sending in the post, small, light and durable, so I'd buy online. RoguelandsUSD and GBP so they must ship abroad. Their catnip seeds sell at $1.99 or £1.08 per packet. There must be many outlets in most countries. Or you can go to a garden center. They are probably more likely to stock it in the spring but see below.

Make sure that you buy common catnip Nepenta cataria (as opposed to the ornamental variety).

Catnip is a perennial herb and part of the mint family of plants. A perennial plant is one which lives for more than 2 years and it does this buy growing back from its roots in the spring, having died the the previous winter. An annual plant is one which seeds itself annually and regenerates that way.

Trees are also perennials. So they can have short lives of a few years or extraordinarily long lives of many thousands of years in extreme cases.

Catnip grows to a maximum of about 2-3 feet. The leaves are fragrant and mint like in appearance. Catnip is an herbaceous perennial (not woody).

As catnip is found in Europe and the Mediterranean regions (and is a weed in America) it doesn't mind dry conditions or wetter conditions. In fact you are not to cosset a perennial too much and growing catnip is easy. The don't need much attention in the growing season and they are happy in poor ground. They are hardy plants.

If you buy catnip pre-grown in a container, then plant it as you would any other containerized plant. Dig a hole deep enough to take the plant and the compost and water well once planted.

For seeds, the simple answer is, you'll find out how to do it on the back of the packet! You can grow seeds indoors or out. You should sow perennial seeds in the autumn to see them grow in the following spring. If you sow them in the spring you are likely to see them the following spring. However, apparently if they are planted about 2 months before the last frost they'll come up that year.

Use fresh compost, either specialist compost for seeds (sterile compost) or multipurpose but ensure the pots are clean - hygiene is important. You moisten the mix slightly and then press in the seed. Add more compost to cover it and then keep warm and covered with plastic. Anywhere that it warm in the home will do. A fridge works by heat exchange so the back of a fridge is warm as the fridge fluid passes through cooling pipes there. These pipes give off heat so the top of a fridge is a decent spot. Or you can buy a heated propagator. This is like a little incubator providing a cover for the plants and heating from below. You only want the best quality catnip for your cat now don't you.....!

Once the seeds come through the compost sun is required for the catnip to grow. Keep the compost moist and then plant outside when the plants are sufficiently mature. Once the growing catnip is about a foot in height it can be picked. The cut stems are then left to dry out in a suitably dry and airy place. Once dry you can break off the leaves and crush them to make the catnip for placing in a suitable container for your cat to play with.

Of course your cat probably will play in or around the catnip that is growing in the garden if you planted them there. You can see growing catnip in the garden in the top link above.

For more information you can visit any garden center and as I said information should be on the packet.

- Links -

As catnip is a common weed in the USA try tracking it down and pick it!

Growing catnip to what catnip looks like

1 comment:

  1. I've been told to look for Nepeta cataria at greenhouses and (plant) nurseries. I don't know if that's the same as the one you mentioned - Nepenta cataria - or not.

    ~ Chris


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