How to Grow Catmint Nepeta
How to grow Nepeta common name Cat Mint
Very widely known only as Catmint, rather than by the Latin name Nepeta, it is so easy to grow hardly any advice needed which makes it a very handy and reliable perennial. Catmint produces clouds of soft blue in a garden and is a viable alternative to Lavender where the growing conditions will not suit Lavender. To grow lavender successfully it needs much drier conditions than Catmint. Lavender will struggle on heavier wet ground as a mediterranean plant it needs to be dry, well drained and sunny; contrast Catmint which will grow almost anywhere. Nepeta is native to a number of habitats and so is not fussy where it grows. Catmint will grow in sun or partial shade and in both moist and dry soils. If you are looking for a similar colour scheme to Lavender, but conditions are too wet, Nepeta is a very good alternative,
The larger species Nepeta faassenii 'Six Hills Giant' will sprawl and can go a bit thin in the middle, and to avoid this Catmint responds well to the Chelsea Chop. In late May or early June, depending on the spring, cut the plant back by about a third. This will delay flowering slightly and make for a more compact shrub.
Catmint blends well with so many plants because of its soft blues. It sits well with many garden plants like Hemerocallis (Day Lilly) centre image and contrasts well with Alchemilla (lady's Mantle,) and like lavender, looks good repeated in the border. The image left is from Birmingham Botanical gardens where Nepeta was used to good effect in many parts of the garden. The intensity of the blue fades after flowering and its worth shearing off the dead heads as it will often throw up some new flower shoots. The foliage on Catmint can go a bit yellow later in the season so if its starts to look tatty, chop flower stems and foliage as it will also produce new foliage for the rest of the summer and usually a few flowers as well. It is a very tough plant.
A really easy garden plant which rewards year after year and minimal maintenance. Nepeta benefits from having the old flowering spikes cut off at the end of the season /late winter to make room for the new growth.
It's a great border plant in its own right but also a good substitute for Lavender where conditions are wetter and colder.