Catnip Growing Guide
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Catnip Growing Guide

What is Catnip?

Catnip is great for more than just your cats! Catnip is a short-lived perennial plant that grows to be 20-40 inches tall and wide and has flowering heads that bloom from late spring to autumn. The name “catnip” comes from the fact that about 2 in 3 domestic cats are attracted to it. In addition to its uses with cats, it is an ingredient in some herbal teas and is valued for its sedative/relaxant properties. The plant is tolerant to dry conditions and is resistant to deer. It can be a repellent for certain insects, including aphids and squash bugs. It is best grown in full sunlight. Nepeta cataria.

How to Start Growing Catnip

Plant catnip in the spring after the threat of frost has passed in your area. Start catnip seeds indoors around six weeks prior to your projected last frost date. The ideal garden location for catnip will get lots of sunlight and have well-drained soil. Make sure no taller plants nearby are creating too much shade for the catnip throughout the day. However, if you live in a hot climate, catnip will appreciate some afternoon shade. Catnip also grows well in containers. In fact, a planting site with some kind of boundary, such as a pot, raised garden bed, or stone wall will help to contain catnip’s spread. You can also grow an indoor catnip plant. All you need is a sunny sill with direct light. Lightly cover seeds with soil.

Did You Know?

The chemical compound in catnip is called Nepetalactone which in the wild is for insect prevention, but also causes cats to get “high” for about 10-20 minutes when inhaled or ingested. The effects cannot be repeated until about 30 minutes to an hour after it has worn off.

Our Favorite Catnip to Grow

Catnip Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Plant Spacing - 10 to 18 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Plant Spacing - 10 to 18 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Catnip Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Catnip

  • Dry, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 8.0
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Catnip Irrigation Requirements

Catnip plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 8.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 8.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

1/4 cup of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

Catnip Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetles, Whiteflies, Moths, Armyworms

Monterey BT
Caterpillars, Cabbage Loppers

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Moths

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms, Ants, Slugs

Sluggo Plus
Slugs

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Complete Disease Control
Gray Mold, Leaf Spots, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Catnip

When & How To Harvest Catnip

Cut a series of stalks away from the base of your plant, or cut the entire plant above the base using a sharp tool. You can pluck individual catnip leaves and flowers but the stems will grow back more quickly. If you harvested a whole bouquet of catnip, you can tie the stems together and hang the plant upside down in a cool, dry location. If you only harvested a couple of stalks, pluck the leaves and flowers from each and let them air-dry on a tray by a sunny windowsill for two to three days. Make sure to keep the leaves away from any cats who will be attracted to the scent.

Storing & Keeping Catnip

Store your dried leaves and flowers in a sealed glass container or burlap bag and keep them in a cool, dark place. You can also store the sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer, to extend shelf-life. Dried catnip will last for several months, at a minimum, before the smell in the oils begins to fade.

Come See Our Catnip!

Catnip Growing Tips & Tricks

Natural Repellent

Catnip also works as an excellent insect repellent. Mosquitos, cockroaches, flies, termites and deer ticks hate the smell, so it’s a great plant to have in your garden but be aware that it spreads very quickly as it is part of the mint family.

"Deadheading"

As it grows, you may want to pinch off the tips of the shoots, especially the dead or dying blooms. This will encourage a “bushier” plant and more growth overall.

Cat Attraction

As you may expect, planting catnip has the possibility of drawing cats to your yard, so if this is a concern for you, exercise caution in deciding where to plant your catnip or keep plants indoors.

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