Cat Care 101: How to Grow Catnip

Jerry Walch By Jerry Walch, 20th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Cats

Growing catnip outdoors or in pots indoors may not be as easy as growing Cat Grass for your Fur-Faced companions, but almost any kitty parent can grow it.

A Few Things to Consider before Growing Catnip

  • Catnip will take over your yard if given the chance. Catnip grows like weeds and spreads like wildfire, so if you plant a patch in your yard for your kitty’s enjoyment, you will need to keep a close eye on it, I learned that the hard way. I now have a small area surrounded by crushed stone where I plant catnip for my kitties, the crushed stone makes it easier for me to see and chop off the shoots the plants send out in their efforts to expand.
  • Catnip is a very aromatic plant that, to some people, smells like skunk, if you are one of those people, you may not want to grow it unless you can locate the plot at a safe distance from your house. If catnip smells like skunk to you, you definitely will not want to grow it indoors; at least you won’t unless you like the smell of skunk.

Catnip Seed

Catnip seed is readily available from seed companies, online from Amazon, and found at many large pet supply outlets like Petco and PetSmart, I buy mine from Burpee Seeds. Catnip seed is relatively inexpensive, a 400 seed count package can be had for about $2 on Amazon, Burpee Seeds sells an 800 seed count package for $3.95, if you go inorganic, a 500 seed count package will cost you $4.95.

The Soil

Catnip will grow almost anywhere where the soil has good drainage and has a soil pH factor of 6.1 to 7.8, so buy a pH testing kit from your local garden center and the soil before planting you Garden of Eden for your fur-faced companions. Catnip does require regular watering and plenty of sun, so locate your catnip plot where it will get an average of 6 hours of sun every day.

How to Plant

Start your seed indoors in pots or flats, in the spring, new catnip plants are small and very delicate, and then transplant the seedlings outdoors, 12 to 15 inches apart when they are 4 or 5 inches in height. Transplant them to an area with eastern exposure so they get sunlight for at least 6 hours out of each day and the young plants need to be protected from strong winds and your kitties, I fence the area in with thin plywood and cover the enclosure with wire mesh until the plants are ready for your cats to enjoy.

Catnip Diseases and Pests

Mildew is a big concern, to prevent mildew keep the plants pruned so their centers are open to air circulation; whitefly and spider mites are the two pests that you have to keep your eyes peeled for.

Harvesting Catnip

You can begin harvesting the leaves when the plants reach 8 inches in height and continue harvesting leaves throughout the summer months, pinch off the flowers, as they appear to stimulate leaf growth. Never harvest more than one-half of the plants leaves at a time, drying the harvested leaves in your oven on a cookie tin, you can also dry them in a dehydrator, store the dried leaves in a cool, dark place in airtight containers. The best time to harvest catnip is in the late morning after the dew has evaporated. In the fall, harvest the stems, dry them by tying them in small bundles, hanging them upside down in a dry, dark place that gets plenty of airflow.

Related Articles:

Cat Care 101: All about Catnip
Cat Care 101: Why do Cats Eat Grass?
Cat Care 101: Grow Cat Grass in 4 Easy Steps
Photo Credits:

All photos Morgue File free photos except for Spider Mite photo
Spider Mite photo Wikipedia

Tags

Cat Care, Cat Care 101, Catnip, Growing Catnip, Harvesting Catnip, Spider Mites, Whitefly

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Carol Roach
21st Mar 2015 (#)

I don't have a yard and if it smells like skunk I won't grow it in the house but I will certainly buy my cats some

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
21st Mar 2015 (#)

I would worry about it attracting other cats and cougars, we buy nip for our cats.

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author avatar Retired
1st Apr 2015 (#)

Are cat mint and catnip the same plant? For some reason my entire pot of cat mint disappeared over the winter. It didn't do that last year. But some of it seems to have escaped from the pot and into the flower bed about 18 inches from the pot. Go figure.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Apr 2015 (#)

Yes. Catnip is actually a member of the mint family. Catnip sends out runners like many other plants and it will take over your garden or yard if you aren't careful.

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