Catnip and Catmint

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Nepeta faassenii, N. cataria, N. grandiflora, N. subsessilis, N. nervosa

 

History

Native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Some members in this group are known as catmint and some as catnip (N. cataria). 

There are about 250 species in this Genus. The name of which is reported to refer to the ancient Etruscan city of Nepete.

Most of the species are Herbaceous perennials, some are annuals. Most commonly flowers come in a range of blue / lilac shades but some are pink or white. Leaves are usually heart shaped green to grey/green. Heights of the different species range between 20 to 80 cm.

Growing

Nepeta are easy care ground covers preferring well drained soils in a sunny spot. They will grow easily from seed and once plants are established they can be easily divided in spring. They are useful as a border plant.

Maintenance

A prune in late summer will encourage plants to bush up and produce fresh flowers.

Fun Facts

The nepetalactone contained in some species binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria.

Problems and Pests

Take care when cutting large amounts of these plants as the strong aromatics can cause Hayfever symptoms such puffy eyes, runny nose etc.

Uses

Leaves of N. faassenii species can be used as a calming tea.

N. Cataria is the species grown for cats.

All species are useful for attracting bees.