Plants I am Planning on Planting: Nepeta (Catmint)

If you don't like kitty cats then perhaps you should not read further! If you can at least mildly tolerate those wayfaring strays, then this plant that I plan on planting this year might be good for you too! It has some profound benefits that don't necessarily involve fraternizing with your feline friends. The plant in question is catmint. Its botanical name is Nepeta nervosa and is a member of the mint family along with catnip (Nepeta cataria). Catmint tends to not evoke as intense of a reaction in cats as catnip does.

Maureen Gilmore of the DIY network wrote a very interesting article that explained the benefits of the species. To sum it up it repels some dastardly devilish bugs, namely termites, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. Now who in their right mind would not like to repel those bugs? Maybe the birds and bats who like to munch on them but most people would love to repel these insects. According to Gilmore, the insects are repelled by a chemical called nepetalactone which apparently has been found to be many times more effective against the aforementioned bugs than DEET. The nepetalactone is also the same substance that attracts your friendly neighborhood felines. You know what cats around your garden means: fewer mice and rodents! Of course cats like to lay down and roll in it to release more of the oils into the air which can flatten your plants. Some sacrifices for the good of the garden must be made!

There are several varieties of catmint on the market now. The one most companies seem to be pushing is 'Walker's Low' which does not seem to be available from seed. I think the one we will start with will be the Nepeta nervosa 'Blue Carpet' since it is available as a seed. According to the description at Park Seed it grows easily and prolifically. They say that it will "spread readily in any soil" which probably means it could take over a garden bed quickly. That doesn't bother me as I can envision a bed of mostly catmint surrounding our raised bed vegetable garden (not built yet). It should attract bees and other pollinators to the garden area and provide a moat around the garden from cockroaches, termites, and those blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Perhaps around the edge of the catmint bed we could put alyssum or another white flowering low growing annual to define the border. One other point of interest is that nepeta is a perennial that should come back year after year, so once it's established I won't need to reseed the area. Park's also says that it blooms in the first year which makes this perennial very attractive!

Anyone have any experiences or ideas with your catmint you would like to share?

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