Growing Catnip

If one of your cats loves catnip, you're probably hooked on this easy-to-grow perennial. Catnip (Nepeta cataria as well as other Nepeta species) is actually part of the mint family. It grows like a weed in some areas, and has an untidy habit, spreading quickly to take up any available space. Most catnip varieties grow to a height of about three to four feet, and plants can get top-heavy with large serrated leaves, toppling over in an untidy heap when it rains or when the wind blows.

Give catnip rich, well-drained soil. It tolerates most soil conditions (pH 6.1 to 7.8) but does like regular watering and partial to full sun. Catnip can have an aroma that's a cross between peppermint and skunk. It isn't to everyone's taste so keep plants away from your deck or patio.

Propagating Catnip

Start seeds indoors in spring. New plants can be small and delicate. Keep seedlings uniformly moist, and keep them away from the family cat. If cats in the garden are a problem, keep young plants under a protective mesh screen. Plant seedlings 12 to 15 inches apart in an area that's protected from the wind but still receives good airflow.

Catnip Diseases and Pests

Catnip is prone to mildew. Make sure to keep plants pruned and keep the center of the plant open so that the air can circulate freely. Catnip can also have problems with whitefly and spider mites.

Growing Catnip Indoors

If you have a window that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day, catnip can grow indoors for you year round. Just make sure to keep it moist at all times, and pinch off flowers to encourage leaf growth. Catnip also works well in an indoor hydroponic garden.

Although your plans for indoor catnip may center on the family cat, remember that the plant will be an aromatic addition to your plant collection. Catnip, as nice as it is, also smells like skunk to some people.

Harvesting Catnip

Harvest leaves when the plant reaches eight inches. You can take leaves throughout the summer and dry them in the oven or a dehydrator. Pinch back flowers as they appear to stimulate leaf growth. Never take more than half the plant in a single cutting. In fall, cut stems, tie small bunches with a rubber band, and hang them upside down to dry in a dark spot that gets plenty of air flow.

Harvesting Note: Wait to harvest catnip until late morning after the dew has evaporated.

Keep dried catnip in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot until you're ready to use it.

Cats aren't the only critters affected by catnip. There's evidence that catnip repels fleas and termites. For more information on how catnip oil may help in the fight against termites visit my post: Catnip and Termites


  1. Anonymous9:58:00 PM


  2. Anonymous3:40:00 PM

    how can you get rid of whitefly on catnip plants?

  3. There are a few options you can try: If you want a prepared, mild insecticide, try Neem oil.

    If you'd like a mild, organic approach, I have some herbal recipes on this site.

    For a quick DIY solution, add three tablespoons of dishwashing liquid to a gallon of water and spray your catnip with it (thoroughly) every couple of days for two weeks (replenish as needed and don't forget to spray the undersides of the leaves).

    Spraying once or twice won't be effective. You'll kill the adult whiteflies, but the next generation will hatch shortly and the problem will come back. The long term solution is to keep spraying until the adults -- and their offspring have been eliminated.

    Good luck.

  4. My plant has only 3 weeks but it has fallen because of the weight of the leaves (the stem is too thin). Is it gonna be ok or should I do something? Thank you!

  5. My catnip plant is only 3 weeks old but it has fallen because of the weight of the leaves and because the slim is too thin. Is it normal or should i do something?

  6. That's unusual, but the plant may have been weighed down from water from a recent rain. Try staking to provide the stem some support.

  7. . Nice post! #ThankSmles #CatLove ... [;)]

  8. usually when growing tall plants indoors you've gotta stress or strengthen them so they dont just fall over when you water like my Dumb Cane just did, didnt expect that lol anyway a 3 setting fan should do em some good

  9. If your growing indoors, I've used a fine mist spray bottle, it works better spraying the leaves with a fine mist, just a quick misting over and watering the soil separately under the leaves to prevent drooping.

  10. I am over-run with catnip! That's okay, though because I make catnip toys. I've always heard that I should wait until the fall to harvest to get maximum potency, but I'm out of dried catnip from last fall. If I harvest a few leaves now to meet my demand will it still be "cat-alicious?"
    We're in Upstate New York if that matters.

  11. I have found it best to harvest it at different times depending on what the purpose of the harvest is. All year is fine for some quick fresh catnip for cats, but taking the tips of the plants may encourage them to topple when auxin causes two more shoots to grow. To harvest for human consumption: I have found it best to harvest primarily flowers- before seeds are produced and dry them gently and not necessarily bone dry. This harvesting method is great for our feline friends! For best results and continual growth harvest most, but not all of the flowers. This also leaves some flowers for the bees and for a seed harvest. For seed harvesting, wait until all the flowers die off, but harvest as soon as this happens otherwise you may have catnip growing in unwanted places(though I want it to grow everywhere). Dry the harvested buds, that are intended for seed output, in a cool, dark place until it is thoroughly dry. Take care to remove the ovaries from the stems to fully expose them and place them in a large enough container that you can shake it freely. Do this periodically for a week. Gently shake this remaining seed and catnip in a colander or sieve made of screen from a hardware store. The seeds that fall will have some powdery catnip mixed in. It is ok to store it this way, but if you want to isolate the seeds- try shaking it back and forth in a bowl with quick, small shakes and gently remove the catnip on the surface by either using a piece of paper or index card(or you can use a fan or your own lungs to gently blow the rest out if you don't mind losing a little catnip). Store seeds in a cool, dark location; as you would catnip (I recommend sealed glass containers; refrigeration not required, but for long-term storage of catnip it will help). This is still a working progress for my horticultural studies of catnip, but I have been working on this for many years and this is what I have found to work best. I wish you all the best in your catnip adventures!

  12. I find it helps to prune the plant after it has set it's first branches and again a few more times as it grows.This produces a bushier plant and allows for more 'heads' or buds to grow. As good as the leaves are the dried buds, or flowers are stronger smelling and attract cats even more. As well I don't allow the buds to actually flower, just to grow an inch or so and then trim them, The leaves I use for tea. It cams both nerves and stomachs as well as helping during women's menstuation cycles.

  13. You mentioned in the article that catnip is known to repel termites and fleas, but my grandmother grew it for years because it helped repel mosquitoes too. Now I am growing it for the same reason.

  14. I have thriving catnip plants. Anyone know if there is a way I can thin them out and maybe put some in other pots or give some to friends? It's funny how some things at my house just wither and die and others just explode everywhere.

    1. I am wondering the same thing, is there a way to divide the plant? Mine is huge, but seems to be one stalk. Id like to plant in other placez

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