Catnip affects both humans and cats, although quite differently. As you probably know, your little feline pet probably goes a little crazy when exposed to catnip, and is specifically reacting to the oils found within the plant. This same oil also has medicinal properties that can help humans with a variety of ailments. Generally catnip is known as a sedative and an antispasmodic used to assuage coughs, colds, gastrointestinal problems such as a cramps or diarrhea. Catnip is actually a very gentle herb, safe enough to give to children. It looks similar to sage and is part of the mint family. The best part is that growing catnip is easy.
Like other types of mints, catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a perennial plant and grows quite well throughout the world, particularly in the Northern hemispheres. Planting catnip is a great idea for yourself and your kitties and is easy to accomplish if you have a garden, a front yard, or a space that receives a lot of light where you can set up a small container garden.
To start, you can begin with catnip seeds, or a small starter plant. Generally fresh catnip is hard to find unless you have a great nursery in your area. The most common way is to start from scratch and use a pack of seeds. Catnip seeds can be purchased cheaply online if not available locally or at a seed saver group. Like any plant, certain conditions will enable the plant to flourish, without added effort or synthetic fertilizers (which Innovation Diaries never endorses because plants are meant to flourish naturally). Aim to grow organic catnip, ultimately growing organically will be best for you, your cat and for the soil and other plants in your garden.
Here’s what catnip plants like: Lots of sun, or some partial shade. Specifically a sandy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.4. However, because catnip is such a hearty plant, it can still thrive in slightly different conditions.
If planting with seeds, scatter them lightly over the top of your soil. Then cover with another thin layer of soil, so they are covered but not deep. Water the seeds thoroughly and then let nature do the rest of the work. The seeds are ready to germinate and will eventually sprout.
Give it a try, but know that catnip does grow fast and as a perennial it will continue to do so.
Keep cats away
The biggest challenge of growing catnip is simply keeping the cats away! Even a small baby plant can attract your cat or the neighbors’. Cats may sit on the plant, eat it or otherwise hinder its growth. You may want to protect your baby catnip plant with some wire or plastic bottle with the top cut off until it gets large enough to not be damaged fatally by felines.
This plant will grow from 1-3 feet! Harvest the catnip when it flowers, which is typically in from June to September. You can use immediately for catnip tea, adding 4 teaspoons of fresh catnip leaves to hot water. When making a tea from dried leaves, only use 1 teaspoon. Drying catnip will enable you to use catnip in the wintertime months. Remove the leaves from the stem once the plant is fully dried. Just keep it away from the cats!