Grow Your Own Catnip

26 08 2007

This is your cat on drugs., originally uploaded by jocieposse.

Growing your own catnip, is simple, cheap and kitties go crazy for it. While organic nip is available there is nothing greener than growing your own and once you’ve given Fluffy her portion you can snip a bit for your own delicious cup of catnip tea. These days catnip seeds, Nepeta cataria, can be purchased at just about any home and garden center and with the proper conditions can blossom into a fragrant plant with clusters of small white or blue flowers.

What You’ll Need

  • A medium or large size flower pot or seed starter. (A garden or flower bed is great too.)
  • Organic potting soil.
  • Catnip seeds
  • A sunny location
  • Water

While catnip can be grown year round, it is recommended to plant it in the late winter/early spring so you can bring it outside after the last frost or if you’re planting it in an outdoor garden sow you seeds in the late fall for spring germination. Catnip is inexpensive and easy to grow so don’t stress too much about the time of year. Fill the pot or seed starter with soil and wet until it is quite moist. Add a few seeds to the pot or one per seed starter pod and push the seeds down just about 1/8″ and cover with just a tiny bit of soil. If you are planting catnip in your garden spread the plants out quite a bit more, about 18″ apart as they are capable of growing large and spreading within the bed. Cover the pot or seed starter with plastic wrap until it germinates locating the pot in full sun or partial shade. Once the seedlings reach about 2″ they are usually safe to acclimate to the outdoors. Be sure to keep the soil moist, especially while the plant is young and growing. Catnip is a perennial that grows large and blooms readily with little care. Cutting the plant back with encourage a second bloom.

To harvest, cut off the largest stems including the top leaves and flowers and lay them out, away from kitties, where they can dry. The dried leaves can be stored all winter and brought out whenever you’d like. Homegrown catnip is more potent then the store bought stuff and completely safe for cats. You’ll notice the difference without a doubt. A few fresh leaves can be given to cats as well but don’t be surprised if they quickly eat them up. The oils from the fresh leaves are equally as potent as the plant itself. Rub fresh leaves on kitty toys or cat beds to achieve a similar spazoid effect.

Catnip Tea

To make catnip tea heat water just shy of boiling and add 1 teaspoon of loose, dry catnip to the water for about 90 seconds or until desired strength is achieved. Strain out catnip and serve with lemon or honey. Catnip is a member of the mint family and has a flavor reminiscent of mint. Catnip tea is great for insomnia or to calm an excited mind.