What is Catnip
Catnip is an aromatic, perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. What is catnip used for? This is the herb that cats famously go crazy for! As for humans, it is commonly used to make tea. Catnip tea has a calming or relaxing effect. It is also used in traditional medicine and may be able to treat a host of conditions and illnesses. The herb is native to Europe and Asia and now has over 250 varieties.
How to Grow Catnip
You can grow catnip easily from seed. It is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and can grow over 3 feet tall (1 meter). Catnip will do well in most soil types, but it prefers rich, loamy, and well-draining soil. Use sterilized black earth mixed with peat moss, water the soil so that it is moist but not soggy, then surface so the seeds. Catnip seeds require light to germinate, so if growing indoors just let them sit on top of the soil. When germinating the seed outdoors lightly cover the seed with soil or peat moss.
Catnip prefers moist soil with a pH of 6.1 to 7.8. It prefers full sun, but it will tolerate partial shade. The seed will germinate in 2-3 weeks. One the seedlings have at least 2 sets of leaves you can transplant them outside after the last risk of frost.
Once established, catnip requires very little maintenance. Even if you don’t own a cat, it makes a great tasting tea and a nice gift to your cat-owning friends.
Companion Planting with Catnip
What is catnip is great for? Companion planting! It is excellent at repelling aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, and squash bugs. You can use catnip to repel ants from your homes and keep away mosquitoes.
Where to Buy Catnip: If you live in Canada and are looking where to buy it, you can buy organic catnip seeds here. It’s an easy to grow herb and can be grown indoors.
Why Cats Love it
It’s the chemical nepetalactone in catnip that causes cats to go nuts for it. Catnip affects approx. 70% of cats to varying degrees. When cats are affected by it they will often paw it, lick it, hiss at it, and generally go nuts! The cat might lose interest in it after a short while, but then in a few hours repeat the ritual again. Catnip is in no way harmful for cats, and they can’t “overdose” on it. To attract cats with it, bruise and crush the leaves. Large felines such as lions and tigers are also affected by it.
This amazing herb is not just for cats! While it has a stimulating effect on them, it’s quite the opposite for humans. People often consume it by preparing a tea with the leaves and flowers. The tea has a sedative effect and is used to treat insomnia. You can also use this herb to treat gas and digestive problems, scarlet fever, cough, headaches, motion sickness, anxiety, stress, nervousness, and many other problems. Pregnant women should avoid catnip.
To Prepare Catnip Tea: Place 1-2 tablespoons of fresh catnip leaves into a cup, add boiling water, and let steep for 10-15 minutes.
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