Nepeta - Growing Guide

Growing Nepeta

Catmint, Catnip

Nepeta are all clump forming perennials which grow in any well drained soil in sun or shade. They all have aromatic leaves and are, therefore, often a key feature in a scented or herb garden. They are however more commonly grown in a mixed or herbaceous border. Some species are attractive to cats and most are well attended by bees. The particular care requirements of different species are described below.

Like all fully hardy clump forming perennials they are most easily divided in spring or autumn when they are dormant but softwood cuttings root easily in early summer.

N. faasseni (mussinii) is a dwarfish catmint growing and spreading to around 18in. It has wrinkled silver-grey leaves and pale lavender-blue flowers with darker purple spots. These plants are best trimmed after flowering to keep them in shape and to encourage a second set of flowers.

N. grandiflora ‘Dawn to Dusk’ grows taller; up to 30in in height with pale pink flowers from purple calyxes. This variety may need plant supports.

N. racemosa ‘Snowflake’ grows to only about 10-12in and is therefore more suitable for growing in rockeries or on the edge or a border. It makes a good plant for a planted container too. The flowers are pure white.

N. racemosa ‘Walkers Low’ has violet to lilac-blue flowers and is also a groundcover plant suitable for rockeries.

N. ‘Six Hills Giant’ grows to around 3ft and will probably need plant supports if grown in a windy spot. It has light grey-green leaves and spike-like whorls of lavender blue flowers in profusion. 

N. subsessillis is a tall growing species which we took to stocking after seeing how well it was performing in seaside gardens in the Isle of Wight. It has hairless, dark green leaves and spike-like whorls of bright blue flowers from midsummer to autumn.


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