The Benefits of Growing Catnip in Your Garden

Catnip is awesomeOur cats are such wonderful and amazing creatures, and many of us want to give them a special treat now and then. If you haven’t already thought of it, why not grow some catnip in your garden or your catio?

Most of us have heard of the euphoric effects of catnip on cats, and may have even witnessed this with our own cats. It’s true that catnip brings on a happy feeling in 75% of cats, large or small.

But are there any other tricks that catnip can do? If you’re into herbs or gardening, you probably know that most plants have many uses, and the same is true for catnip. West Park Animal Hospital thought it would be fun to explore this topic, seeing as the summer is prime time for this blooming herb.

The Benefits of Catnip (Catmint)

Catnip, also known as Catmint (Nepeta cataria), is a member of the mint family. Aside from causing euphoria in cats, it is also beloved by bees and is a prolific bloomer, with pretty white or near white flowers with purple spots, and leaves covered with soft hairs that contain the volatile oils that give catnip it’s distinctive scent.

Other benefits of catnip in your garden include:

Catnip makes a yummy tea – this herb is delicious in tea when dried in a warm spot or after being placed in a dehydrator. It combines well with lemon balm, chamomile or other mints. It is said that these combinations help to reduce stress and promote relaxation and sleep.

Catnip repels mosquitoes, flies, and other biting bugs – some gardeners say that if you rub a handful of plants on your skin, the oils will repel pests for several hours.  

Catnip has medicinal properties – it is thought that the water soluble compounds in catnip are antibacterial in nature, lending merit to the age old remedy of washing and cleaning wounds with it.

Catnip In Your Garden

Now that we’ve convinced you that you need to add catnip to your garden, here are some tips for growing it and enjoying it along with your cat.

Catnip grows into a floppy mound three feet wide, and is a hardy perennial that prefers open, dry places. It grows easily and doesn’t mind being cut back severely to harvest the leaves  – for your cats and you – in early summer. You can harvest again in late summer if you wish.

Catnip is easy to grow, and although it doesn’t send out runners like other plants of the mint family, catnip sheds significant seeds as it grows. These easily turn into volunteer seedlings which can be either composted or moved to a desired location.

Another great idea for catnip in your garden is to use it as a deterrent.  If your or a neighborhood cat is bothering your garden, plant catnip as a border and this may distract them away from the rest of your garden. Interestingly, it is reported that rats and mice are also repelled by catnip in your garden – how’s that for irony!

We hope this has given you some great ideas for using catnip in your garden, and that you enjoy it as much as your cats will. If you already grow catnip for your cats (or yourself), give us a call and let us know!