For Nepeta Catmint, the name ‘Nepeta’ is derived from the Etrurian city of Neptic, where, historically, this catnip plant is thought to have grown extensively.
In France, where Nepeta Catmint is called herbe aux chats, it was used to make tea, prior to the arrival of Chinese teas.
Nowadays, the most well-known use of catnip is as a attractant for cats. It’s the nepetalactone compound that our furry friends are drawn to – it has strong behavioural effects across the cat family. It’s a little-known fact, however, that only two-thirds of cats are sensitive to catnip. The other third simply don’t enjoy those strange rubbing, rolling pawing, licking and chewing behaviours often seen in catnip-loving felines. What a pity for them!
|Latin name||Nepeta cataria|
|Plant size|| Height: 50 cm|
Width: 20 cm
|Container size|| Height: 30 cm|
Width: 30 cm
|Companion plant(s)||Mint, lemon balm, onions, garlic chives, chamomile|
|Planting outdoors||Feb to Mar|
|Germination||7 to 15 days|
|Harvesting||40 to 60 days|
|Planting||1 cm to 3 cm apart at 0.5 cm depth|
|Thinning||3 cm to 5 cm|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil||Well-drained, light and poor soil|
|Watering||Regular watering, not overdone|
|Caring||'If you set it, the cats will eat it: if you sow it, the cats won’t know it’.|
|Beneficial wildlife||Attracts bees, butterflies, cats.|
|Pests||Repels ants, aphids, beetles and cockroaches. Funnily enough, mice and rats also hate catnip! Also cats if you consider them a pest.|
|Harvesting||You can harvest catnip leaves at any time during the growing season. The oils that entrance cats so completely reach their peak, however, when the plant is in flower.|
|Eating|| Medicinal properties: Some believe that, when chewed, catnip root can make a person fierce and quarrelsome. It is also listed, however, as an effective sedative – particularly for children.|
How to eat: Young catnip leaves are edible raw. They have an aromatic, mint-like flavour and can be eaten in cold dishes. The fresh, young shoots are good in spring salads or rubbed into meat.