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Grow Your Own Catnip

Updated on January 2, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia has years of experience with gardening and wild pests in New Hampshire and other locales.

Catnip Nirvana

Even an older, sedentary cat gets excited by catnip.
Even an older, sedentary cat gets excited by catnip. | Source

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

Those crazy cats! Give them a little sniff of catnip and they start running and jumping and rolling around. They do love their catnip!

But what is it about catnip that makes your cat do crazy things? And more important - is it dangerous?

Catnip is an herb. It's a member of the Mint family. And no, it is not dangerous or addictive for your cat. Or your kids. Or your dog.

It does contain a chemical - nepetalactone - and that's what triggers the response in your cat's brain, if your cat is the type that's susceptible to the charms of catnip. In fact, not every cat has a reaction to catnip. Kittens and older cats often don't even notice it. So if you've noticed that your feline friend really couldn't care less if there's catnip around or not, don't worry. There's nothing wrong with your cat.

Cats don't really eat catnip. What they're trying to do when they bite it is to bruise it to release the smell. It's the smell that triggers their comical response. Sometimes if your cat eats catnip he'll actually become sedate. And if he eats too much, he might get a tummy ache or have diarrhea.

If your cat is the type who goes crazy for catnip, after a 5 to 10 minutes he'll become desensitized to the smell and walk away to find something else to do. Once his nose settles down again, which might take a couple of hours, he'll be right back for another 'catnip fix'!


Cats Just Wanna Have Fun

A cat goes wild when they get a toy filled with dried catnip. Look at this kitten playing!
A cat goes wild when they get a toy filled with dried catnip. Look at this kitten playing! | Source

How To Grow Catnip

Catnip is a perennial herb which means if you let it flower and turn to seed it will keep coming up, year after year. Common catnip (Nepeta cataria) is the variety that most cats prefer. It has white flowers and grows up to 3 feet tall.

Other varieties that your cat might enjoy include: Camphor Catnip which has white flowers and grows to 10 inches and smells like camphor, Lemon Catnip which also has white flowers and grows up to 3 feet tall and smells lemony, and Catmint which has purple flowers and grows to 15 inches high.

Catnip does best when planted in full sun but it will also grow in less sunny areas of your garden. Plant in well-drained loamy or sandy soil and water regularly. Plant late in the fall or early in the spring so the plants have plenty of time to become established.

If starting seeds indoors, start 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost and then plant 18-inches apart when you move them to your garden.

Trim back old growth in the early spring to make room for new growth.


Source

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Do TIGERS like catnip??

People Like Catnip, Too

There are some who say that catnip tea has a sedative effect on humans but since it's an herb there's no official scientific evidence to cite. And they also say it helps settle an upset stomach.

Those same folks say that if you place damp catnip leaves on a cut it will heal faster and that catnip tea will also relieve muscle aches and pains and toothaches.

And you can also dry catnip to use as an aromatic herb in sauces and salads.

Even better - Butterflies are attracted to catnip! So plant some in your garden this year and you'll have pretty butterflies to watch - along with your crazy cat!

200 Seeds, Catnip Herb

Package of 600 Seeds, Catnip Herb (Nepeta cataria) Non-GMO Seeds By Seed Needs
Package of 600 Seeds, Catnip Herb (Nepeta cataria) Non-GMO Seeds By Seed Needs

Cat-attracting perennial with gray-green leaves and white flowers.

Prefers an area of full sunlight and grows to a height of about 24 to 48 inches tall.

75-85 days to harvest when started indoors.

Complete planting and growing directions on seed packet.

 

Growing Herbs : Growing Catnip

I have planted a lot of catnip over the years. My cats went nuts when they smelled it. The flowerbed was absolutely flat! I dried the small bouquets and stuffed it into pieces of socks or just a little bag that I sew. Really nice for my darlings. I love cats.

— Irenemaria from Sweden

Put the Catnip in a Hanging Pot If Your Cat Keeps Damaging the Plants

Catnip is an herb and there's nothing about it that will harm your cat. The problem is keeping your cat from harming the catnip!

Use a Shepherd's hook to raise catnip up out of reach if you're planting outside. Just be sure to position it away from the deck or fence or anything else your cat might be able to use to help climb the pole!

This Pole Stabs Into the Ground and the Plants Hang from the Hooks

Hanging Planters To Keep Catnip Out Of Harm's Way

Hang the catnip out of the cat's reach. Then you can give small amounts at a time. If you have the plant within reach of the cat, it will destroy the plant by rolling and chewing on it.

© 2012 Virginia Allain

Tell Me about Your Experience with Cats and Catnip

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    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      I liked this lens, and especially the idea of using a hanging planter to grow the catnip. That way butterflies can get to it, but not the neighbor's cat.

      TonyB

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 5 years ago

      Good idea, but my little Foxy, doesn't like cat nip, but I have had plenty of cats that do. So growing your own is just smart.

    • gypsykitschpres profile image

      gypsykitschpres 6 years ago

      What a great idea. I never even thought to grow my own catnip. Very helpful. Cute kitties too!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Well written and informative. I wondered why my older cat doesn't seem to react to catnip.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a fun and informative article on catnip Art! Its interesting that kittens and older cats just might not be interested and that the effect of fascination wears off, guess that's probably a good thing....or they'd be rolling in it and not get anything else done. The video does indicated that many types of cats in the wild love it too...they look like they are in heaven! I was trying to figure out if Now, cats like both butterflies and catnip, I wonder if you planted it to attract butterflies, which one the cats would be most interested in getting at. I've been trying to figure out if Natasha and Willow are Bobcats or Lynx, I think Canadian Lynx because of those ear tufts.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      I want to grow some catnip! Thanks for the tips :)

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 6 years ago from Detroit

      I used to do that, its a great idea if your cat likes it

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 6 years ago

      Loved the video!

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