is perennial and a native to Europe and East and West Asia. The
Latin genus name, Nepeta, comes from the name of a Roman town
where it grew in profusion and the species name, cataria, comes
from the word for cat. It has been used for at least 2,000 years.
Catnip went wherever Europeans tried to settle as it was considered
an important medicinal. It is now wild throughout the US. Cat
lovers trying to establish a patch would do well to adhere to
the old proverb:
you set it, the cats will know it.
If you sow it, the cats won't know it
hang young plants in a tree to strengthen them enough to survive
the cats, and I now have a well-established patch, which is growing
well as the plants are now reseeding. It seems that cats are attracted
by the smell, which reminds them of the hormonal scent of cats
of the opposite sex. Though it is the scent that lures them, some
cats will eat the plant, probably to ingest chlorophyll, which
cleanses their system.
and Use: Leaves and tops are harvested in late summer when
in full bloom. But, if you would like a second harvest, cut the
plant back hard after the first flowering. This will also encourage
a neat compact shape. To dry, hang it upside down away from the
sun with good air circulation. Strip the leaves from the stems
and store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
has other uses besides kitty's delight. It can be picked young
and eaten in salads. It makes a good tea for digestion, calms
an upset stomach, and counters colic, gas, and diarrhea. This
should not be a surprise as it is a member of the mint family.
It is also used to soothe the nervous system. A hot
infusion is excellent for colds and flu, and for children's
infectious diseases such as measles because it causes sweating
without raising the body temperature. For feverish colds, it can
be blended with yarrow and parsley or elderflower, boneset, ground
ivy, and angelica and taken as a tea or tincture 4 times a day.
It is also one of the best herbal enemas administered for treatment
of conditions associated with excess toxins in the blood.
and Propagation: The plant is a coarse-leaved, gray-green,
square-stemmed perennial belonging to the mint family. Though
not a showy landscape plant, it does make a nice border plant.
It is hardy to zone 3. Seeds germinate
more quickly if left uncovered. Catnip grows well in most soils
in full sun. It often reaches a height of 3'. White flowers, attracting
honeybees, appear in July and last until late fall.
It is not prone to pests when grown outdoors, but can be bothered
by whiteflies indoors. Use insecticidal
soap to dislodge the flies. Wet, cold winters can cause root
rot. It has been planted near vegetables to ward off flea