Last Saturday, while out and about, I came across a Catmint called ‘Walker’s Low’ (Nepeta faassinii). Considering how often I’ve gushed about the virtues of Nepeta, you won’t be surprised to learn that I recently acquired a bottle. The new perennial was put in our front sidewalk garden the other day.
The minty scent is released simply by rubbing the leaves between your fingers. It’s a beautiful plant, but my catmint is a little leggy right now. An easy fix for legginess is regular trimming that encourages a bushier growth habit.
This is called “Walker’s Low.” An English garden, not the plant’s real growing behavior, is the inspiration for Catmint’s name. This catmint may reach a height of 24 inches and a width of 18 inches when fully grown.
If you’ve read any of my previous entries on Growing The Home Garden, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of plant propagation. My new catmint seedlings have been successfully propagated. In fact, I trimmed the catmint the day after I purchased it.
Let me introduce you to catmint (or Nepeta), a long-blooming perennial that can withstand heat, is resistant to pests and diseases, and is easy to grow. My “must have” list of plants includes this one, even after years of experimentation with drought-resistant and/or deer-resistant plantings. It is a key feature of my decorative garden and gives interest throughout the year. In April, it forms orderly mounds of lovely gray-green foliage. During the month of May, the plant really explodes with a gentle lavender-blue cloud of blossoms. Late summer or early fall is a great time to catch a glimpse of the plant’s vibrant display of color. Even after the blooms have faded, the floral arrangement is enhanced with colorful calyces that match the flowers’ hues. During the winter, the foliage turns a light silvery gray tint if it is left in place.
Lavender, rosemary, thyme, bee balm, and giant hyssop are all members of the mint family (Lamiaceae), which also includes this herbaceous perennial. Additionally, these plants have two-lipped blooms, square stems, and opposing leaves, all of which are common characteristics. Catmint and catnip are frequently confused by the general public (Nepeta cataria). Catnip is more fragrant than catmint, although it has a lower decorative value than catmint.
Catmint plays well with others. If you love the classic combination of lavender and roses but find lavender too finicky to grow in this area, catmint is a good substitute. Just like lavender, catmint can be used to cover the bare “limbs” of rose bushes. It’s cool-toned foliage and flowers offer a pleasing counterpoint to the vivid tones of the roses.
As a group, Catmint is easy to work with. Catmint is a fantastic replacement for lavender if you can’t produce lavender in your location because it is too fussy. It’s possible to cover rose bushes with catmint, just as you do with lavender. The roses’ vibrant colors are balanced out by the plant’s cool-toned foliage and blossoms.
Nepeta x faassenii is the most commonly planted catmint cultivar commercially in this country. The nurseryman, J. H. Faassen, whose nursery this hybrid originally appeared, gave the plants its name to the plants. No need to deadhead N. x Faassenii’s blossoms to prevent them from self-sowing.
The following species, while closely related to the N. X faassenii family, are productive and may require deadheading to prevent reseeding:
- Upright, two- to three-foot-tall Siberian catmint (N. sibirica) features huge, green leaves and deep blue blooms.
- Unlike other kinds of catmint, Japanese catmint (N. subsessilis) prefers damp soil. Partial shade is preferred, despite the fact that it can handle full sun.
- Native to the Himalayas, the yellow catmint (N. govaniana) bears yellow blooms that blossom later in the season.
- Nepeta nervosa (N. nervosa) with veins – This plant, which is native to India, grows to a height of one to two feet and has leaves that are three to four inches long with prominent veins.
- An astounding four to six feet tall and wide, the Greek catmint (N. parnassica) is more prevalent in European gardens than we have here in the United States.
Catmints were examined by the Chicago Botanic Garden in order to find the best examples for ornamental features, disease and pest resistance, adaptability to cultural conditions and winter hardiness in a study that spanned the years 1999-2006. (the botanical garden is located in zone 5b). Five-star exceptional ratings for large flower output throughout a prolonged bloom period were given to the following four out of 22 catmints that had been highly rated:
- On plants that are 24 inches tall and 48 inches broad, ‘Joanna Reed’ has lavender blue flowers. It bears the name of the late Pennsylvania gardener who first stumbled across it.
- “Six Hills Giant” — Lavender-blue flowers on 30-inch-tall by 48-inch broad plants.
- 14-inch-tall by 30-inch-wide ‘Select Blue’ — Lavender blooms on 14-inch plants.
- ‘Walker’s Low’ – Lavender-blue flowers on 30-inch tall by 36-inch wide plants. However, the name is not based on its length, but rather on a garden in Ireland. ‘Six Hills Giant’ is only a few feet shorter. Walker’s Low was named Perennial of the Year in 2007 by the Perennial Plant Association.
There are many more varieties of catmint available at your local garden center if you feel forced to look for it. You may also find several more wonderful cultivars including “Dropmore,” “Blue Wonder,” and “Junior Walker,” which is a shorter variant of “Walker’s Low,” standing at 16 inches tall.
HOW TO CARE FOR CATMINT
- Catmint spreads wider than it grows tall, so allow plenty of room for it to thrive.
- Despite its preference for full sun, catmint can survive in a shady spot in the afternoons.
- Water new plants and transplants until they are able to do it on their own. Drought and heat tolerance is built in after that.
- It doesn’t need any fertilizer. Catmint thrives in soil that is both well-drained and low in fertility. In fact, rich soil can cause the plant to fall over or split apart. If this happens, simply shear the plant back to get it in order. A little compost in the fall or spring will keep the plant healthy.
- After the first flush of bloom has faded, cut down the plants by a third or more. As a result, the plants will be more orderly, smaller in stature, and more likely to experience a second blooming period later in the summer. Even if the plant is not shorn, it will continue to bloom and remain appealing throughout the sweltering summer.
- Over the winter, leave the spent leaf in situ to aid in the protection of the crown. Cut it back in the early spring.
- Catmint should be divided every three to four years in the spring or early fall in order to keep it healthy and strong. During the first growing season, keep it thoroughly watered until the plants are established.
- Catmint cultivars can get rather huge, depending on the variety. After a few inches of development, pinch back the plant’s stems to encourage a more compact growth habit.
HOW TO PROPAGATE CATMINT
- In spring, cut a vertical portion of an established clump of catmint to propagate it. A healthy root system and multiple new shoots are a must for a successful division. Keep the plant adequately watered until it has a chance to grow.
- Catmint can be grown from cuttings as well. In the spring, before the flower buds appear, take three-inch long cuttings of healthy plants. The cuttings should be placed in a wet medium, like sand or a peat-perlite mixture. With any luck, they’ll take root in two to three weeks.
Other considerations include pests, pollinators, and vectors of transmission of disease.
- Catmint is typically unaffected by pests and illnesses. This is the only issue that can arise. Control measures are not necessary for this fungal illness.
- Catmint is a favorite of some cats, according to my own observations. If you’re worried about your cat eating or rolling in your catmint, you can protect it with chicken wire.
- Bees and butterflies flock to this plant in droves. In addition, hummingbirds enjoy it.
- You’ll enjoy this plant if you have a problem with four-legged critters other than cats in your garden. Deer, rabbits, and voles avoid it because of its minty, pungent foliage. Isn’t THIS a plant that pays for itself?
In 2008, Allan M. Armitage published “Herbaceous Perennial Plants,” Third Edition.
There are a lot of deer-resistant plants out there, but these are the ones that are the most beautiful and the ones that the deer won’t eat.
The American Horticultural Society’s editors-in-chief Christopher Brickell and H. Marc Cathey released “A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants” in 2004.
How I Took Catmint Cuttings
A dab of rooting hormone (which isn’t necessary) was applied to three little stem-tip cuttings before they were buried in my sandbox. (It’s never too late to have some fun in the sandbox, isn’t it? My sandbox consists of a couple aluminum baking pans filled with sterilized playground sand. For plant propagation, you don’t need sand but it doesn’t harbor disease as soil does. Catmint cuttings can still be effectively rooted in soil, however.
Watch the video to see how these cuttings fared!
The three little catmints are depicted in the photo to the right. Three more cuttings from my initial plant have been successful, so I now have four new plants in my garden to plant the catmint. Planting catmint in large quantities is easy because it grows so quickly from cuttings.
It only took a few days for the catmint to begin establishing itself. You may get a lot of cuttings from a single plant because it’s so easy to root. Because of this, every time a cutting is made, the plant produces new branches from the nodes. When it blooms, the plant will be covered in more blooms and have more cutting material available.
There is some evidence that Catmint (a relative of catnip) does not lure cats as much as catnip does.
How to Propagate Catmint from Cuttings
nodal, internodal, or the stem end
Best Times to Propagate Catmint:
During the Seasons of Spring and Summer
How to make cuttings of catmint
Cutting catmint is a simple as following the instructions provided below.
- Cut the stems into lengths of 3-4 inches.
- Remove all but a few of the leaves from the top of the stem.
- To encourage branching, pinch the tip.
- Put the rooting hormone-coated end in a rooting medium and watch it grow. A rooting hormone isn’t required, but it will speed up the process.
- Monitor the cutting for a week to two weeks and keep the cutting moist.
You may find these Plant Propagation resources useful!
How to Stop Catmint from Getting Leggy
Check out this short video I made on pinching back your catmint if you’re having issue with it getting leggy. Other plants that open from the center are also ideal for this strategy.
The Best Way How To Propagate Catmint
Catmint can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or divisions of the original plant. However, cuttings and divisions are the best means of propagating catmint.
Can you propagate catmint from seeds?
Catmint seed propagation is not popular because sterile hybrids make it unreliable. Sterilized plants aren’t necessarily a bad thing because they don’t necessitate tedious weeding with self-seeding plants. Catmint hybrids can only be propagated by cuttings or clump division, thus gardeners typically utilize them.
How to propagate catmint from divisions and cuttings?
Via clump division
Healthy plants for divisions and cuttings can be obtained by growing catmints in a greenhouse. It’s best to utilize plants that are at least three or five years old for the former. Catmints are great because their root system is clumping, which means that all of the roots develop from the same crown.
In order to divide the clump in late September or early October, the clump should be established in the spring. Using a sterile knife, cut a vertical slice out of the created cluster. You should be able to get a lot of little parts if you have a well-established crown.
However, keep in mind that each division has a strong root system and at least one growing growth eye or bump. After that, take careful to promptly transplant these clumps at the same depth as before. Also, remember to give the new plants plenty of water so they can grow established, just like you would with any other type of plant division.
Cuttings can also be used to propagate catmint. Take your cuttings from the spring’s vigorous new growth. During the early summer, you can also take three to six-inch softwood cuttings, although they are just starting to create flower buds at this point.
Water the plant the night before you plan to take cuttings so that it is well-hydrated the next morning when you go to take them. This is the best time of year for the plants to get enough water. To avoid damage and contamination, make sure to use sterilized and sharp scissors during the procedure.
A good rule of thumb is to make three cuts below a particular set of leaves. Trim off any flower buds and the bottom leaves of the cutting. In addition, you can cut back the remaining leaves till you’re left with a quarter of the amount of leaves remaining.
Plant the cuttings as soon as possible in a wet media like perlite, vermiculite, or a peat-perlite mix. Each cutting should have a 6-inch hole drilled with a 4-inch gap. Rooting hormone can be applied to the cutting and the pot is sealed in a clear plastic bag to keep it wet.
How To Grow Catmint?
When you provide your cuttings or divisions the appropriate conditions, your propagation will be a success. Once your plants are established, you’ll find that both methods necessitate watering to promote their growth. For cuttings, they need to be misted every day, and if the soil is dry, the divisions will not grow.
In spite of its low-maintenance nature, catmint still has to be provided with the ideal growing circumstances. For instance, the optimal location for a catmint rooting pot is somewhere that receives some sunlight but not direct sunlight. In addition, gardeners advise keeping the location at a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easier to do in a greenhouse.
Where do you plant catmint? Catmint prefers a well-drained and fertile soil, and the type of soil you use will vary on the type of catmint you have. In the fall, you can also add compost, but once the catmint has established, it can survive on its own.
Feeding catmints excessively might lead to fragile plants, according to experts. To that end, deadheading your plants will result in a second bloom that is much more luscious. Generally speaking, you can expect the plants to bloom in early summer and repeat throughout the growing season.
Whether you have a pet cat or not, the catmint is a fascinating plant that anybody may grow to adore. The next step if you have already established catmint plants is to understand how to grow the bright and scented herb. You can’t start a new plant from seed with most catmint hybrids because they’re all sterile.
It is therefore possible to replicate them through clump divisions or cuttings from your already established plants. Both ways are simple, and if you’ve hydrated your plants thoroughly and kept them in an environment like a greenhouse, your plants should thrive. There isn’t a lot of upkeep once the plants are established.