A photo of vibrant, bushy catnip plants growing in a garden

How to Grow Your Own Catnip from Seed: A Complete Guide

Key Takeaways
– Catnip is a herb that belongs to the mint family and has a compound called nepetalactone that attracts and affects cats.
– Growing catnip from seed is easy, fun, rewarding, and beneficial for you and your cats. You can save money, have fresh and organic catnip, attract bees and other pollinators, repel insects, make herbal tea, and use it as a homeopathic remedy.
– To grow catnip from seed, you need to choose high-quality and organic catnip seeds, prepare well-drained and fertile soil, sow the seeds indoors or outdoors depending on your climate and season, germinate the seeds by stratifying them if needed, transplant the seedlings to their final location, care for the plants by watering, fertilizing, pruning, and protecting them from pests and diseases, and harvest and dry the leaves when they are mature and ready.

Did you know that you can grow your own catnip from seed and enjoy its many benefits for yourself and your feline friends? Catnip is a herb that belongs to the mint family and has a compound called nepetalactone that attracts and affects cats. When cats smell or eat catnip, they experience euphoria, relaxation, playfulness, or even aggression. Some cats may also roll over, drool, meow, or purr.

But catnip is not only for cats. It also has many benefits for humans. You can grow your own catnip from seed and use it for various purposes. For example, you can:

  • Save money by not buying catnip products from stores or online.
  • Have fresh and organic catnip that is free of pesticides and diseases.
  • Attract bees and other pollinators to your garden with catnip flowers.
  • Repel insects such as mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ants, etc. with catnip leaves.
  • Make herbal tea with catnip leaves to relax, soothe, heal, or flavor your drinks.
  • Use catnip as a homeopathic remedy for headaches, insomnia, anxiety, colds, fever, etc.

Growing catnip from seed is easy, fun, rewarding, and beneficial. In this article, we will show you how to grow catnip from seed in simple steps. You will learn how to choose the right catnip seeds, prepare the soil for planting them, sow them indoors or outdoors depending on your climate and season, germinate them by stratifying them if needed, transplant them to their final location, care for them by watering, fertilizing, pruning, and protecting them from pests and diseases, and harvest and dry them when they are mature and ready.

Let’s dive into the details of how to grow catnip from seed and turn your garden into a cat paradise.

Choosing the Right Catnip Seeds

A close up photo of some organic catnip seeds in a jar

The first step to grow catnip from seed is to choose high-quality and organic catnip seeds that are free of pesticides and diseases. This will ensure that your catnip plants will grow healthy and strong.

There are many sources or brands of catnip seeds that you can find online or offline. However, not all of them are reliable or trustworthy. You need to do some research before buying any catnip seeds.

Here are some tips on how to find and buy catnip seeds:

  • Check the reviews, ratings, and feedback of the sellers or products. Look for positive comments, testimonials, or pictures from previous customers.
  • Compare the prices, shipping costs, and delivery times of different sellers or products. Look for reasonable prices, low or free shipping costs, and fast or guaranteed delivery times.
  • Look for guarantees, refunds, or customer service from the sellers or products. Look for money-back guarantees, easy returns or exchanges, or responsive customer service in case of any problems or issues.
  • Ask for germination rates or expiration dates of the seeds. Look for high germination rates (above 80%) or fresh seeds (less than a year old).
  • Choose seeds that are suitable for your climate or growing conditions. Look for seeds that are adapted to your zone, temperature, sunlight, or soil type.

Preparing the Soil for Catnip Seeds

A photo of a hand using a soil tester probe in a garden bed

The second step to grow catnip from seed is to prepare well-drained and fertile soil for planting them. Catnip seeds need a soil that is loamy, slightly acidic (pH 6.1 to 7.8), and rich in organic matter.

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If your existing soil is not ideal for catnip seeds, you can improve or amend it by adding some materials depending on the soil type and pH level. For example, you can:

  • Add compost, manure, peat moss, or vermiculite to improve the drainage, fertility, and moisture retention of clayey or sandy soil.
  • Add perlite, sand, or lime to improve the drainage, aeration, and alkalinity of heavy or acidic soil.
  • Add sulfur, pine needles, or coffee grounds to improve the acidity and nutrient availability of alkaline or poor soil.

You can use a soil tester kit or meter to check the pH level and nutrient content of your soil. You can also send a soil sample to a local extension service or laboratory for a more accurate analysis.

To prepare the soil for catnip seeds, you will need some tools or equipment, such as:

  • A shovel, a rake, a hoe, or a trowel to dig, loosen, level, or mix the soil.
  • A bucket or a wheelbarrow to transport the soil or the amendments.
  • A soil tester kit or meter to measure the pH level and nutrient content of the soil.
  • A pair of gloves to protect your hands from dirt or injuries.

Now that you have your soil ready, it’s time to sow your catnip seeds.

Sowing Catnip Seeds

how to grow catnip from seed

The third step to grow catnip from seed is to sow them indoors or outdoors depending on your climate and season. Catnip seeds can be sown directly in the garden or in pots or trays indoors.

The best time to sow catnip seeds outdoors is in spring after the last frost date. This will give them enough time to germinate, grow, and flower before the winter. The best time to sow catnip seeds indoors is in late winter or early spring. This will give them a head start and allow you to transplant them outdoors after the frost danger has passed.

To sow catnip seeds properly, you need to follow these steps:

  • If you are sowing them indoors, use clean and sterilized pots or trays with drainage holes. Fill them with moist potting mix that is suitable for herbs or seeds.
  • If you are sowing them outdoors, choose a sunny and well-drained spot in your garden. Loosen the soil with a rake or a hoe and remove any weeds or rocks.
  • Sprinkle the seeds lightly over the surface of the soil or potting mix. Do not bury them too deep as they need light to germinate. A thin layer of soil (about 1/4 inch) is enough to cover them.
  • Water them gently with a fine spray or a misting bottle. Do not overwater them as they may rot or drown. Keep them moist but not soggy until they sprout.
  • Place them in a warm and sunny spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day. If you are sowing them indoors, you can use a heat mat or a sunny windowsill to provide warmth and light.
  • Thin out or transplant the seedlings when they have two sets of true leaves. Leave only the strongest and healthiest ones and discard or relocate the rest. Space them 18 to 24 inches apart if you are planting them in rows or beds.

Sowing catnip seeds is easy and fun, but you may face some problems or challenges along the way. Here are some of them and how to avoid or solve them:

ProblemSolution
Low germination ratesUse fresh and high-quality seeds; stratify the seeds by refrigerating them for two weeks before sowing; soak the seeds overnight in water before sowing; scarify the seeds by nicking or scratching their coats with a knife or sandpaper before sowing.
Damping-off diseaseUse clean and sterilized pots or trays; use well-drained and sterile potting mix; avoid overwatering or overcrowding the seeds; provide good air circulation and ventilation; use fungicides if necessary.
Birds or rodentsCover the seeds or seedlings with netting, mesh, wire, or plastic; use repellents, deterrents, or traps; scare away the pests with noise, motion, or scarecrows.
CatsProtect the seeds or seedlings from your own cats or stray cats by fencing, covering, or spraying them with water, vinegar, citrus, pepper, or other substances that cats dislike; provide your cats with their own catnip toys, pillows, sachets, or treats to distract them from your plants; plant catnip in containers that you can move around or hang from hooks.

Once your catnip seeds have sprouted and grown into healthy seedlings, it’s time to transplant them to their final location.

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Transplanting Catnip Seedlings

A photo of a hand transplanting a catnip seedling into a garden bed

The fourth step to grow catnip from seed is to transplant your catnip seedlings to their final location if you started them indoors or in pots. Transplanting your catnip seedlings will give them more space, nutrients, and sunlight to grow faster, stronger, and bigger.

The best time to transplant your catnip seedlings is after the last frost date in your area. This will ensure that they will not be damaged by cold or frost. You can use a frost date calculator to find out the average last frost date for your location.

To transplant your catnip seedlings safely and successfully, you need to follow these steps:

  • Choose a sunny and well-drained spot in your garden or a large and sturdy container with drainage holes for your catnip plants. Catnip plants can grow up to 3 feet tall and wide, so they need enough room to spread out.
  • Dig holes that are twice as wide and deep as the root balls of your catnip seedlings. You can use a trowel or a shovel to dig the holes.
  • Gently remove your catnip seedlings from their pots or trays without disturbing their roots. You can use your fingers or a fork to loosen the soil around the roots.
  • Place your catnip seedlings in the holes and fill them with soil. Make sure that the soil level is the same as it was in the pots or trays. Do not bury the stems or leaves of your catnip seedlings.
  • Water your catnip seedlings thoroughly after transplanting them. You can use a watering can or a hose to water them.
  • Mulch your catnip plants with straw, grass clippings, or wood chips to retain moisture and prevent weeds. You can use a rake or your hands to spread the mulch around your plants.
  • Space your catnip plants 18 to 24 inches apart if you are planting them in rows or beds. This will allow them enough air circulation and room to grow.

Transplanting your catnip seedlings has some benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of them:

BenefitDrawback
They will grow faster, stronger, and bigger.They may become invasive or aggressive if not controlled or pruned.
They will produce more leaves, flowers, and seeds.They may compete with other plants for space, water, and nutrients.
They will attract more bees, butterflies, and cats.They may suffer from transplant shock or stress if not done properly.

After transplanting your catnip seedlings, you need to take good care of them to ensure their optimal growth and health.

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Caring for Catnip Plants

A photo of vibrant, bushy catnip plants growing in a garden

However, they still need some basic needs and requirements to thrive. Here are some of them:

  • Full sun: Catnip plants need at least six hours of sunlight a day to grow well and produce more leaves and flowers. If you are growing them in containers, you can move them around to follow the sun or place them in a sunny spot in your garden.
  • Moderate water: Catnip plants need about one inch of water per week to stay hydrated and healthy. You can use a rain gauge or a finger test to check the soil moisture. Water them deeply but infrequently, preferably in the morning or evening. Avoid overwatering or underwatering them as they may cause root rot or wilt.
  • Occasional fertilizer: Catnip plants do not need much fertilizer as they are not heavy feeders. However, you can give them a boost once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer that is suitable for herbs or flowers. You can use a liquid or granular fertilizer and follow the instructions on the label. Avoid overfertilizing them as they may cause leaf burn or reduce their potency.
  • Regular pruning: Catnip plants need regular pruning to encourage bushy growth and prevent flowering or seeding. You can use sharp scissors or pruners to cut back the stems by one-third in spring and summer. This will also stimulate new growth and keep your plants tidy and compact. You can also deadhead the flowers to prevent self-seeding or collect the seeds for future use.
  • Protection from pests and diseases: Catnip plants are generally resistant to most pests and diseases, but they may still encounter some problems such as aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, powdery mildew, root rot, etc. You can use organic or natural methods to prevent or treat these problems, such as:
    • Spraying your plants with water, soap, vinegar, neem oil, or insecticidal soap to dislodge or kill the pests.
    • Introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps to control or reduce the pests.
    • Removing or destroying any infected or damaged parts of your plants to prevent spreading or worsening of the diseases.
    • Improving the drainage, aeration, and ventilation of your soil or pots to avoid fungal or bacterial infections.
    • Using fungicides or bactericides if necessary.
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Caring for your catnip plants is simple and enjoyable, but you should avoid some common mistakes or pitfalls when doing so. Here are some of them:

MistakePitfall
Planting them in shady or soggy areasThey will not get enough sun or drainage and may become weak or sick.
Watering them too much or too littleThey will suffer from root rot or wilt and may die.
Fertilizing them too much or too oftenThey will lose their flavor or aroma and may burn their leaves.
Pruning them too hard or too lateThey will not recover or regrow and may die.
Letting them flower or seed excessivelyThey will reduce their leaf production and quality and may become invasive.
Neglecting or overindulging themThey will not grow well or healthy and may lose their appeal.

When your catnip plants are mature and ready, you can harvest and dry their leaves for various purposes.

Harvesting and Drying Catnip Leaves

The last step to grow catnip from seed is to harvest and dry your catnip leaves for maximum potency and quality. You can use your catnip leaves fresh or dried for yourself or your cats.

The best time to harvest your catnip leaves is in the morning when the dew has dried. This will ensure that they are crisp and aromatic. The best time to harvest your catnip leaves is before they flower or after they have faded. This will ensure that they have the highest concentration of nepetalactone.

To harvest your catnip leaves properly, you need to follow these steps:

  • Use sharp scissors or pruners to cut the stems cleanly. Avoid bruising or crushing the leaves as they may lose their flavor or aroma.
  • Harvest only the top one-third of the plant at a time. Leave some leaves on the plant for future growth and harvest.
  • Wash and rinse the leaves gently under running water to remove any dirt or insects. Pat them dry with paper towels or a clean cloth.

To dry your catnip leaves properly and safely, you need to follow these steps:

  • Spread the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, a wire rack, a paper bag, or a screen. Do not overlap or crowd them as they may mold or rot.
  • Place them in a warm, dry, dark, and well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight, heat, or moisture as they may degrade or spoil the leaves.
  • Turn them occasionally to ensure even drying. Check them daily for doneness. They should be crisp but not brittle and retain their green color and pleasant smell.
  • Store them in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. Label and date the container and use the leaves within a year for best results.

Drying your catnip leaves is easy and rewarding, but you should be careful when doing so. Here are some precautions that you should take:

  • Wear gloves when handling the leaves as they may irritate your skin or eyes.
  • Keep the leaves away from your cats as they may go crazy or destroy them.
  • Keep the leaves away from children or pets as they may ingest them or choke on them.
  • Use the leaves sparingly and moderately as they may have side effects or interactions with other substances.

You can use your dried catnip leaves for various purposes for yourself or your cats. Here are some of them:

  • Make catnip toys, pillows, sachets, or treats for your cats to enjoy or reward them. You can sew or stuff some fabric with dried catnip leaves and add some bells, feathers, ribbons, or other items that your cats like. You can also bake or freeze some catnip treats with dried catnip leaves and other ingredients that your cats love.
  • Make catnip tea, tincture, oil, or vinegar for yourself to relax, soothe, heal, or flavor your drinks or dishes. You can steep some dried catnip leaves in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes and add some honey, lemon, or milk to make a soothing tea. You can also infuse some dried catnip leaves in alcohol, oil, or vinegar for a few weeks and strain them to make a tincture, oil, or vinegar that you can use as a remedy or a condiment.
  • Use dried catnip leaves as an insect repellent, a bee attractant, a homeopathic remedy, or a potpourri ingredient. You can rub some dried catnip leaves on your skin, clothes, or furniture to repel insects such as mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ants, etc. You can also plant some dried catnip leaves in your garden to attract bees and other pollinators. You can also use some dried catnip leaves as a homeopathic remedy for headaches, insomnia, anxiety, colds, fever, etc. You can also mix some dried catnip leaves with other herbs, flowers, or spices to make a potpourri that will freshen up your home.

Conclusion

Growing catnip from seed is easy, fun, rewarding, and beneficial for you and your cats. By following these simple steps, you can grow your own catnip from seed and use it for various purposes. You can save money, have fresh and organic catnip, attract bees and other pollinators, repel insects, make herbal tea, and use it as a homeopathic remedy.

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to grow catnip from seed. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please let us know in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.

Happy gardening!

About The Author

Samantha
Samantha

I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started growit.wiki to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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