Cats love catnip, and gardeners love gardening, so it males sense if you love cats and gardening, to grow your own organic catnip! Fortunately, this perennial herb is easy to grow by seed, transplant or division. It is reliably hardy to zone 3. The fragrant blossoms are attractive to bees, butterflies and even birds.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is related to the mint family. This can also be a clue as to its willingness to spread, so allow for plenty of space or excess plant removal. It prefers sun but tolerates light shade, and likes a well drained soil making catnip a plant that can be happy nearly anywhere.
Growing about 3 to 4 feet tall, plan on harvesting several times throughout the growing season to stimulate succulent, soft new growth. This new growth will have the most scent, and will be favored by your kitty. It is actually not a drug as some people would think, although it does cause a hallucinogenic feeling of euphoria. This feeling comes from the way the plant smells, causing most cats to lick, eat, roll and shred toys that are stuffed with it. When smelling catnip, it becomes like a stimulant while eating it causes a sedated effect. The roof of a cat’s mouth is where the receptor is located that enables them to get a good whiff of catnip. However, not all cats react strongly to catnip as it is an inherited trait.
Another interesting fact about cats and catnip is the age in which they become aware of it. Kittens less than two months old do not show any interest in it. Catnip is not harmful to a cat, and consider exposure to it is not harmful. However, the euphoria a cat feels will diminish if he’s around it all the time.
Drying your organic catnip can be a great way to preserve for winter use, and can also be the stuffing for hand made toys. Spread the cheer by making additional catnip filled toys for friends and family members who also share their lives with lit ties.