NEPETA

FAMILY: Lamiaceae

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Moderate Water
  • Regular Water

Plant Details

Vigorous, spreading members of the mint family, with aromatic foliage. With the exception of catnip (Nepeta cataria), these plants are valuable for their spikes of two-lipped blue or blue-violet (or sometimes pink, white, or yellow) flowers. As soon as blossoms fade, shear plants back by half, or cut faded flower stems to the ground to encourage rebloom. (Most species seed freely and can become invasive if spent flowers are not removed.) Plants make attractive, informal low hedges or edgings. Deer don't usually eat them.

In winter or early spring, cut out last year's growth to make way for new stems. At that time, you can also divide clumps for increase, though it's easy to start new plants from cuttings (take them before flower buds form). When buying named selections, be sure to obtain cutting-grown plants; seedlings vary in flower color and habit. Flowering is spotty in the Tropical South. Provide good drainage.

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  • Blue Dragon.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Named for the dragonlike appearance of individual flowers, this bright blue-violet selection grows upright, unlike others, reaching 2 feet tall and wide.

catnip

nepeta cataria

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • From the Mediterranean and western Asia.
  • To 23 feet high and wide, with downy, heart-shaped, tooth-edged gray-green leaves.
  • Spikes of small (14- to 12 inches.) whitish or pinkish flowers in late spring, early summer.
  • Not very ornamental but worthy of a place in the herb garden.
  • Grows easily in light soil and self-sows readily.
  • Common name refers to stimulant effect on cats.
  • Their susceptibility to the herb varies, though: Some felines fall into a rapturous frenzy, rolling wildly on the plant, but others ignore it.
  • If necessary, protect crown of plant with an inverted wire basket; stems will grow through.
  • The same tactic also helps preserve potted plants grown outdoors and brought indoors occasionally for cats to enjoy.
  • You can also sprinkle dried leaves over your cat's food or use them to stuff cloth toys.
  • Some people use catnip to flavor tea.
  • Citriodora has lemon-scented foliage.

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  • Dropmore.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Grows to 1 feet high and 3 feet wide, can bloom from late spring to fall with lavender-blue flowers.

catmint

N.x faassenii

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Sterile hybrid of Nepeta racemosa and a European species; often sold as Nepeta mussinii.
  • Soft, silvery gray-green, spreading mound grows to 1 feet high, 1122 feet wide.
  • Scallop-edged, heart-shaped leaves to 1 inches long.
  • Attractive to some cats, who enjoy nibbling on and rolling in plantings; insert short, blunt-tipped sticks in the ground among the leaves to discourage cats and prevent destruction.
  • Loose, lax spikes of 12 inches lavender-blue flowers in late spring, early summer.
  • Set plants 11 feet apart for ground cover.
  • Limelight grows only 10 inches tall and 2 feet wide, the lime-green foliage makes an energetic backdrop for the blue-lavender flowers.
  • Less robust than other selections.
  • Kit Cat (Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7) is shorter, reaching 15 inches with blue-purple flowers on gray-green foliage.
  • Select Blue has darker flowers than the species; 'Snowflake' has pure white blooms.
  • Cats Meow forms a dense, rounded mound with sky-blue flowers.

giant catmint

nepeta grandiflora

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to Europe, Caucasus.
  • Open clump to 24 feet tall, 35 feet wide.
  • Gray-green, hairless or sparsely hairy, scallop-edged, egg-shaped leaves to 4 inches long.
  • Violet-blue, 34 inches flowers in late spring, early summer.
  • Bramdean has lavender-blue blossoms with purple calyxes; 'Dawn to Dusk' has lilac-pink blooms, smoky violet calyxes.
  • Wild Cat has purplish red calyxes.
  • Calyxes of all these selections persist after flowers have faded.

nepeta nervosa

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native to Kashmir.
  • Grows to 12 feet tall but may spread into a mound 12 feet wide.
  • Bright green, conspicuously veined, tooth-edged leaves are lance shaped, 24 inches long.
  • Brilliant violet-blue (rarely yellow), 12 inches flowers bloom from midsummer to early fall.
  • Afternoon shade is helpful.
  • Blue Carpet and 'Pink Cat' grow to 1 feet.

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  • Purple Haze.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • At only 10 inches tall, this vigorous selection grows into a mound 4 feet across.
  • The showy flowers are held in spikes.

PERSIAN CATMINT

nepeta racemosa(Nepeta mussinii)

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Native to the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran.
  • Sprawling plant grows from 6 inches to 1 feet tall and about 2 feet or more wide.
  • Roundish, scallop-edged, 12- to 1 14 inches-long leaves range in color from medium green to gray-green; they are covered with fine hairs.
  • The typical form produces 13 inches-long lavender flowers for a short period in mid-summer; may rebloom if sheared.
  • Reseeds wildly.
  • Inferior to its hybrid N.xfaassenii, but there are several worthwhile selections that are more compact than the species and bloom over a longer period.
  • Blue Ice has dense, gray-green foliage and pale blue flowers that fade to near-white.
  • Superba has a dense, matlike habit and gray-green leaves that are smaller than those of the species; it bears lavender-blue blossoms from spring through fall.
  • Violet-blue flowers of 'Walker's Low' grows 23 feet tall and has vivid lavender-blue flowers.

SIBERIAN CATNIP

nepeta sibirica(Nepeta macrantha)

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Native to Siberia.
  • Sturdy, upright habit to 23 feet tall and 1122 feet wide.
  • Dark green, oblong to lance-shaped, 3 inches-long leaves are softly hairy beneath.
  • Spikes of large (112 inches.) violet-blue blossoms appear for about a month, beginning in early summer.
  • Souvenir dAndr Chaudron' ('Blue Beauty') is similar but grows only 1 feet high and blooms for a longer period, with season extending into late summer.

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  • Six Hills Giant.
  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Possibly a hybrid of Nepeta xfaassenii and similar to itbut grows taller (reaches 212 3 feet high and as wide), has greener foliage, and bears deeper blue flowers.
  • More tolerant of damp climates than other nepetas.

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