Four Tips for a Thriving Catnip Garden

Posted: October 3, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Growing Catnip
Grow common catnip almost anywhere and provide your cat with a treat.
We all know cats love catnip, but if you are like me you have a hard time keeping it alive. I went to the experts who grow catnip commercially to learn the secret of how to grow catnip successfully for your cats.

First off, there are different types of catnip. The most common catnip is Nepeta cataria, suitably called “common catnip.” Another is “Catmint.” Some people use the terms interchangeably, however, I heard that Catmint can be harder to grow. Let’s make it easy and focus on the common ‘nip. After all, we just want to give our cat a treat from our own garden.

Tip 1: Location
Catnip, a member of the mint family, is a perennial plant that can be grown indoors and out.

“The plants are hardy to Growing Zone 4, so summers don't necessarily have to be long in order to harvest a crop,” according to Jean Fritz of KittyVista LLC in Indianapolis.  

Catherine Hoffman, co-founder of Bell Rock Growers Inc. in San Marcos, Calif., adds that it prefers alkaline, neutral to slightly acidic soils with good drainage; it can be in full or partial sun as long as you water accordingly.

The Consensus seems to be that it grows better outside. The hardest part? Picking a location where your cats (or the stray neighborhood cats) can’t reach it. Otherwise, your catnip garden will quickly fall prey to kitties before it can even grow!

Tip 2: Tending
The part your kitty likes best is the leaf. Hoffman suggests a lot of pruning, which will help the catnip grow denser and more lush. If you don’t do this, the catnip will end up growing on a single tall stalk. After the flowering season, cut back the catnip by trimming the stalk at a low point where a shoot splits off.

“During the winter, I mulch my plants with about 6 inches of shredded leaves; any snow cover protects them as well,” Fritz adds. “I haven't lost any plants to cold weather, but I have had losses when we've had drowning rains.”

Tip 3: Fertilizer
Fertilize your catnip like you would any other plant you want to grow. Fritz has a fun suggestion for an added treat: Fertilize your catnip with a foliar fertilization with fish emulsion — it will give your catnip a fish flavor your cat will love.

Tip 4: Soil
It is possible too overwater catnip, so plant catnip in well-draining soil. If you have heavy clay soil, you can do what Fritz suggests and use rocks to help drain the water. She also mentions watering every three to four days, no more, to keep from overwatering. You do not want your catnip “sitting” in water. Maybe that’s why cats like it so much — it dislikes water as much as they do.

These tips should help you grow a thriving catnip garden for your feline. We would love to see pictures of your unique and creative catnip gardens, send them to us here.
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Four Tips for a Thriving Catnip Garden

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Reader Comments

Aly    Highland, MI

10/15/2011 10:37:17 PM


Amy    Spartanburg, SC

10/15/2011 1:40:44 PM

Great info!!

aa    hollister, CA

10/13/2011 7:14:41 PM


Anon    City, CA

10/13/2011 6:20:42 PM

Great info!

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