Catnip questions and tips

jerem(5b)April 17, 2009

Hi i had a few questions, i was looking to grow some catnip for my cat just for fun to try and i have a couple questions if anyone would help me :).

1- Is catnip hard?

2- How many seeds will i need to grow an average pot full

3- Do cats like the stems/leaves/flowers of the plant or just the leaves.

4- If i wanted to use some for tea also is it only the leaves or the stems/flowers too.

5- Does catnip grow keep growing back each year or do i need to replant each year?

6- If i buy catnip seeds have have leftovers can i save them for next year or do they expire?

Im new to growing stuff so these are most likely stupid questions.

Thanks! Great forum.

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noinwi

It's been a long while since I started any from seed, but I thought they took quite a while to germinate(I may be wrong). The seeds are very small, so just sprinkle some in a pot of moist soil or seed starter and after they start to grow you can thin them as needed. Be sure to plant them in a hanging pot(well out of the cat's reach)or place a chicken wire cage over the area where they are growing or your cat and/or the neighborhood cats will destroy the small plants by chewing them and rolling on them. They will usually survive cat attacks after they get larger. Cats like the whole plant. I just snap off a small branch and throw it on the floor for mine. You'll have to keep them trimmed if in a pot, as they can get big. For drying(for cats and for tea), hang bunches of stems upside down in an airy spot inside or shady spot outside. When the leaves are dry, strip them off the stems and store them in a jar or other cat proof container. My cats also like playing with the stripped stems. Toward the end of the season leave some flowers on the plant to reseed and you'll have new plants plus the original ones next year(they should survive your winters...they do here). Or, you could shake dried flower stalks into a bag to save the seed.
I don't know how long the seeds are viable. I found some old ones and sowed them in a container inside and they haven't sprouted after a couple of weeks...they may be dead, but catnip grows wild in these parts, so soon I will be harvesting the fresh stuff for my cats.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:38AM
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noinwi

Catnip likes full sun, so it probably won't do well indoors unless you have a really sunny window. And to be more clear about their surviving the winter, they will die to the ground, but will re-sprout in the spring.HTH

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:49AM
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leira(6 MA)

The seeds will last for a while, but exactly how many years is hard to say. I keep my leftover seeds in a ziploc bag in the fridge, which is probably better than letting them get too hot.

I have to second what others have said about protecting young plants from neighborhood cats. I've had my plants decimated by one of the local wanderers!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 11:43AM
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jerem(5b)

Thanks for the help also i was wondering if catnip needs a deep type of pot or is shallow ok? I have some shallow containers with alot of surface area which would give alot more catnip than my deeper pots.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 12:43PM
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noinwi

I would do one of each type to see what works best in your conditions, but I'm thinking the deeper pot would hold more moisture so you wouldn't have to water as often.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:29PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Isn't catnip part of the mint family? That would mean it could get out of control in a garden. Don't know. I've got one plant to put in a pot, and plenty of seeds. I read somewhere that cats are attracted to the roots, and the roots can actually make a person hyperactive, but the leaves are best used in teas for people. Could be wrong on this, check it out.
since i'm planting seeds, so glad to see this post! it'll help. Doesn't catnip grow tall? Maybe deep pots are best.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:47AM
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noinwi

Catnip is in the mint family, but it is not as aggressive. It is perennial, and it re-seeds, so you will end up with patches of it in your garden area, but I've never seen it spread by runners like the mints do.
Jerem doesn't specify the depth of the containers, but I've grown it in a regular sized hanging pot and just kept it trimmed, hanging the trimmings to dry.
I've never heard about root usage...maybe Daisy has. Cats are attracted to the nepelactone in the stems, leaves, and flowers. Catnip leaf tea is calming and helps to soothe digestive problems.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:25AM
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maifleur01

The catnip I find at the nurseries in my area is not a perennial but a biennial. It comes up one year and blooms the second then dies. May be my soil but it happens to me.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 2:10AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

For my $.02....

1- Is catnip hard?

No. Very easy. It grows wild all about my place - old farms have a bit of this and that every where. Here is grows full sun and part-shade, in heavy clay and in well composted garden soil. Self-sows readily.

2- How many seeds will i need to grow an average pot full

Start your seeds in a flat and prick them out to individual pots when big enough. As far as size, the mature plants around my place get 2' to 3' tall (second year size). Doesn't take much at that size to fill any pot.

3- Do cats like the stems/leaves/flowers of the plant or just the leaves.

Any part if your cat likes catnip - not all react to it. Mine does not react strongly to any catnip and then only dried catnip.

4- If i wanted to use some for tea also is it only the leaves or the stems/flowers too.

Leaves for best quality, in my opinion.

5- Does catnip grow keep growing back each year or do i need to replant each year?

Self-sows like mad. Plus it is a perennial but in my experience not a long-lived one.

6- If i buy catnip seeds have have leftovers can i save them for next year or do they expire?

Most seeds are good for 2-3 years before the germination rates fall off too much. There are notable exceptions to the rule, corn, parsnips, etc. but 2-3 years holds for many plants.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 2:25PM
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reversethong

Catnip use to be used as a seasoning. Does anyone cook with it? Care to share some uses? Also what part to you use to make tea out of?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 2:48AM
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jerem(5b)

Thanks for all the tips and such but it looks like i wont be growing any anytime soon, i bought some seeds on ebay and they came all crushed and the seller wont even respond to me. Ugh.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 4:01PM
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noinwi

The seeds are pretty small...are you sure it isn't just the pods that are crushed? Put it all in a fine sieve and rub gently. The pod material should separate from the seed.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 7:10PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Jerem-

Too bad I took most of my herb seeds to a seed swap in january I'd send you some catnip. Just so you know, some of the commercial seed sellers have very good prices and reasonable shipping - for example, I checked Nichols Garden Nursery and they sell catnip for $1.65 and have $3.95 shipping. I don't know what you paid at Ebay, but it can't be a lot lower. I've always had good service from Nichols. Here's their links and some others:

Richters
Horizon Herbs
Nichols Garden Nursery
Pinetree Seeds
Johnny Seeds

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 9:30PM
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noinwi

In addition to seeds, the big box stores, Lowes, Home Depot, and even Walmart, usually have catnip plants included in their nursery sections.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:06PM
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meghan_kazmi_hotmail_com

I have a pot of Catnip that I bought at Publix.
It's a healthy plant, and I potted it in a 5" deep pot.
The leaves do not stand up like most plants (mints) do.
Why do they tend to fall to the ground? The plant is continuing to grow, yet it won't stand up right on it's own.
Why is that? is that natural? and if not, what can I do to fix it so it's a healthy plant.
Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:48PM
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noinwi

Catnip can get a little top heavy and fall over. Try pinching or trimming the tips of the plant, up to several inches, depending on how tall your plant is, so it will 'bush' out a bit. Give it full sun, moist soil, and hold off on fertilizing.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 12:11AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

My catnip gets tall, maybe 3'. It will flop over if 1.) you don't keep it clipped shorter or 2.) it isn't growing amongst other stiffer plants - which it prefers to do in my garden.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 7:52AM
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MadamMozart

1.) no it isn't hard at all, along w/ my basil it was the only herb to really wow me.

2.) i dumped an entire packet of burpee catnip in a 6-8" pot i ended up w/ a mini splotch of living shag carpet in there, it stunted the growth so that after 4 months the plants were 3-4 inches tall, in short a packet will give you OODLES of plants a little goes a long way.

3.) diffrent cats will eat more or less of the plant, we have a kitten that will mow it down, and i have a 7yr old who only eats perfect leaves.

4.) use the leaves, i make mine w/ a bit of fresh nip leaves and a few leaves of sweet basil. it's a mild tasting tea, no hint of bitterness as w/ some herbs, though the smell is intimidating.

very nice for a sore throat, i first made some in desperation as i had spent the day coughing and miserable, it worked instantly, it did a better job of soothing my throat than an analgesic spray, and it's calming effects are stronger then chamomile imo.

5.) catnip is a perenial in zones 3-9 and should be planted in a container like other mints, or as so i've read

6.) the seeds should be good for later plantings. the rule of thumb is 3yrs before seed quality goes south

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:12PM
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kissingfrogs2003

Here is my catnip plant...

at what point should I pick off leaves for my *not so little* cat Lucy to play with? Also, when I am picking off leaves...does it matter which (i.e. new growth vs. bigger leaves)?

Lucy likes to play with catnip, but also spiders on the window...

Lucy thanks you for your help, and wants to be sure your responses don't disturb her slumber :)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 5:20PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If you pinch out the terminal bud and first 1 or 2 leaf pairs of your catnip, you'll make it bushier.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 7:27AM
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