Catmint for a summer long bloom
Updated: Aug 23
Common Name : Catmint
Science-y Name : Nepeta
A Few Other Varieties : N. sibirica (Siberian catmint), N. subsessilis (Japanese catmint ),
N. govaniana (Yellow catmint), N. nervosa (Veined Nepeta)
Native or Non : Catmint has been naturalized to North America, but it originates from parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Characteristics : Let’s look at that word “naturalized” first. A naturalized plant establishes itself without extra human attention given to fertilizing, re-seeding, splitting or weed control. The Spruce, an online home and garden site, has a great definition of naturalized: “Naturalized plants are plants that spread into the non-native environments and are able to reproduce in their new home, and eventually establish a new population there.”
For those who have introduced catmint into their yards in a soil and spot that makes the plant happy they will tell you this plant does just fine on its own.
Catmint grows in large clumps. The plant produces long stalks of small, sage green leaves that have lobed edges, so there is a lace like edge with rounded bumps. Stalks can grow up to 3 ft tall and the clumps can spread to 3 ft across.
As the days get warmer catmint will produce small lavender or white flowers along the stalk. It can bloom throughout the summer and be a welcome bit of color when everything else has gone to green.
This is a drought tolerant plant that loves the sun. Plant it near yarrow or salvia for two plants that look great together.
Fun Fact : Catmint is not catnip! The common names are often used interchangeably for catnip, that tender looking herb that cats love to munch. The leaves and stems of catnip, binomial N. cataria, are more delicate than catmint.
Leaves of the catnip plant also have more of a serrated edge, so it looks more angular or tooth like. Overall the plant is somehow messier looking, more like an herb. A little more wild.
Catnip also contains more of the compound nepetalactone. That’s the thing that makes cats, both wild and house types, act all crazy. Other nepeta don’t produce as much nepetalactone as N. cataria does.
Catmint varieties have heartier stalks and look like they could be at home in a desert as well as that dry and hot spot in your yard. Leaves have gently lobed edges, and both leaves and stems have fine white hairs giving it a fuzzy appearance.
Care Considerations : Catmint loves to spread itself around once it has found a happy home. RAG Thyme gardeners will split catmint plants when they get too large and can transfer parts of a large plants to other areas of the yard if desired. Or those extra plant bits can just go away into the yard waste pile. Yard waste can also be bagged for pickup by the town if that’s best for your property.
Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.