The buzz on catnip

Catmint

Nepeta faassenii ‘Cats Meow’ catmint
Photo: Tonya McCahon

One of my old gardening books, circa 1978, had this withering comment about catnip–”favourite of cats, not very ornamental and best grown in inconspicuous corner”. But catnip is going on my plant shopping list despite the fact that my kitty died a couple of years ago (at the ripe old age of 23). This spring, Proven Winners is introducing a new catnip (or catmint) called, aptly, ‘Cat’s Meow’ that will turn heads–and not just of the feline variety. Here’s why.

1. First, Nepeta faassenii ‘Cat’s Meow’ has a more refined habit than other catmints. It grows into a dense bloom-covered mound up to 18″ high and wide that doesn’t flop–something catnip is notorious for doing.

2. Catnip is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. ‘Cat’s Meow’ is hardy to Canadian zone 4 and it’s heat and drought resistant which may come in handy given that forecasters are predicting a super-heated summer.

3. Because it’s relatively petite, ‘Cat’s Meow’ makes an excellent container plant (see more about that in Reason #5). And it can also work well as a filler in a border. Plant a few of them towards the front mixed in with ornamental grasses for a soft and breezy combo even Monet would be proud of. Either way, be sure to plant in full sun.

4. Catnip is good for the garden. It’s fragrant flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Catmint and lavender

Cat’s Meow catmint planted with Sweet Romance lavender–heavenly!

5. Catnip contains nepetalactone, the essential oil found in the plant’s leaves and stems that gives cats that high. Research has revealed that it makes a good mosquito repellent so try potting up a few containers of the plant to edge a patio. Try adding Lavandula angustifolia ‘Sweet Romance’ which grows to the same height, blooms at the same time and prefers the same soil and light requirements as ‘Cat’s Meow’. Natural alternative folks like to tout lavender as a natural insect repellent as well. I couldn’t find any science to back up that claim. But who cares. The combo is brilliant in the looks and fragrance department.

Both photos: Courtesy of Proven Winners

2 thoughts on “The buzz on catnip

  1. Pingback: Ministry of the fence 10 hottest and oddest 2017 gardening trends

  2. Pingback: Help for the hive-nots: a solo bee primer | Rhymes with Linnaeus

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