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Friday, January 4, 2008

Cat Mint

The catmint adds blue color to any garden. Works well in hot dry conditiions. Blue Wonder catmint prefers full sun. Another name for the catmint is Nepeta x faassenii.

A fragrant, ornamental herb that prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Common Name: Catmint
Botanical Name: Nepeta
Type: Deciduous Perennial
Soil Preference: This plant tolerates drought and will also grow in moist soils but prefers moist, well-drained or loamy soils with a netural pH. 'Walker's Low' is sensitive to humidity.
Light Requirements: Full sun, partial sun, partial shade
Attributes: Attracts butterflies, good for naturalizing
Pests: Leafhoppers
Diseases: Black root rot, wilt, powdery mildew
Good Companion Plants: Beardtongue, Bee Balm, Hollyhock Mallow, Pincushion Flower, Shasta Daisy, Yarrow
Care: Prune back older foliage on the outside after blooming to encourage new growth and a denser plant. Division can be done in the spring if necessary.
Planting Instructions: Perennials
Water & Fertilizer Schedule

The many blue flowers each plant produces grows to a height of 12 to 15 inches. Each plant should be spaced 18 inches apart. Recommend you put the plant in well drained soil. It is a perfect plant to place in those dry areas you always forget to water. Catmint is easy to propagate, easy to trim, and equally easy to rip out if you get sick of it. It does flower well in autumn if it's been trimmed back.The catmint blooms in June and July. Its recommended as ground cover for planting below shrubs. Or it also works as a sunny blue border plant. It is an aromatic plant.


I got some "cat mint" from a swap last year. Is this the same as cat nip? It certainly looks like it's in the mint family.
Chuck R. from Grand Rapids, MI

Catnip and Catmint are not the same (although the two are often lumped together) but you're right, Catmint (Nepeta mussinii) is related to Catnip (Nepeta cataria). Botanically, both are in the genus Nepeta. To make things even more confusing, there is also Lesser Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta) a subspecies of catnip and several other varieties and hybrids in the Nepeta genus.

Many cats are attracted to both plants, but their response tends to be more intense to Catnip. The chemical responsible for their crazy behavior is called nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves, stems and flowers. The amount of this chemical found in each plant varies a bit by species. It seems that catnip has larger amounts of it and so attracts more felines. Incidentally, all members of the cat family (Felidae) are supposed to be attracted to it, so take care when giving it to lions and tigers. As for telling the two plants apart, Catnip generally has a taller, more upright growing habit, and Catmint tends to mound and has more pronounced purple/pink flowers.

You can remove spent flowers to produce a second bloom. Trim unwanted growth to keep it looking well groomed. The flowers of the catmint tend to be a lavendar color. The leaves are gray-green.