Catnip: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about catnip

Catnip is a short-lived herbaceous perennial of the Lamiaceae or mint family. This plant sends up square, erect and branched stems, 2 to 3 feet high, which are very leafy and covered with a mealy down. The heart shaped, toothed leaves are also covered with a soft, close down, especially on the under sides, which are quite white with it, so that the whole plant has a hoary, grayish appearance, as though it had had dust blown over it.

The flowers grow on short footstalks in dense whorls, which towards the summit of the stem are so close as almost to form a spike. They are in bloom from July to September. The individual flowers are small, the corollas two-lipped, and the upper lip straight, of a whitish or pale pink color, dotted with red spots, the anthers a deep red color. The calyx tube has fifteen ribs, a distinguishing feature of the genus Nepeta, to which this species belongs.

common names & nomenclature
The common name catnip comes from the fascination that cats have for this plant; they eat the leaves and are attracted to the scent.

Also known as:
catnip leaf, catnip, catswort, catmint, catnep

Catnip, the happy-making mint
Catnip: Where in the World
habitat and range for catnip

Catnip is native to Europe and southwestern to central Asia, and is widely naturalized in many parts of the world

Catnip: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting catnip

Catnip grows in cultivated gardens, in hedgerows, borders of fields and on dry banks and waste ground in part to full sun.

Catnip is easily grown in any garden soil, and does not require moisture in the same way as the other mints.

Propagate catnip by dividing the plants in spring, or by sowing seeds at the same period. Sow in rows, about 20 inches apart, thinning out the seedlings to about the same distance apart as the plants attain a considerable size. They require no attention, and will last for several years if the ground is kept free from weeds. The germinating power of the seeds lasts five years.

Harvest leaves anytime during the growing season and the flowers when the plant is in full bloom.

Dry the flowers and leaves, and then cut into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Catnip: The Rest of the Story
catnip history, folklore, literature & more

catnip—it’s not just for cats
Catnip is named after its ability to enrapture feline friends. It gives cats a feeling of pleasure and even euphoria when they inhale it. It can also help to aid their digestive system. In the wild, they eat it regularly. But catnip isn’t only for cats.

Catnip can also be enjoyed at mealtimes. Adding fresh catnip leaves to your salad will help give it a mint-flavored kick. You can even chew on catnip leaves after a meal to freshen your breath as well.

If you’re trying to keep bugs at bay, catnip can also be used as an insect repellent. In fact, laboratory studies show that catnip oil can work better than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. The oil can be diluted and sprayed on plants and outdoor areas where you want to keep free from insects.

While some people enjoy growing catnip, using dried catnip leaves is just as effective for making teas. You may also want to keep dried catnip around if you do have a furry feline friend. You can use it to make your own cat toys and help to calm an anxious cat. While cats aren’t the only ones who enjoy catnip, they certainly benefit from it.