Tales of a Novice Gardener: Indulging in Catnip

I’m a cat lover -- the type of person who won’t fetch a glass of water because a cat is on my lap. As soon as I saw catnip in the Seed Library, I excitedly checked out a packet and got to work pampering my cats through gardening. 

I quickly learned that simply placing the seeds in moist soil is not the best way to germinate catnip. After two separate applications of seed in a small pot, I had a grand total of three spindly catnip plants (see photo at right).

They took a while to get started, but once they grew beyond the seedling stage, they took off! The catnip quickly outgrew the small pot, so I transferred it to an owl-shaped pot, where the catnip served as a 70s style feathered hairdo for the owl (see below). 

Once the owl needed a haircut, I excitedly snipped some catnip and put it on the floor for the cats to go wild over. The cats seemed vaguely interested, but they soon walked away.  Undaunted, I decided to try drying it instead.

The dried catnip was a hit, and the cats were soon rolling around in it….and also maybe fighting over it (I strongly suggest making a catnip pile for each cat). Perhaps drying concentrates the essential oils?

Don’t have cats?  Catnip has other uses as well.

  • Some people use catnip tea to treat anxiety. Catnip contains nepetalactone, an herbal sedative. Source: Catnip Tea
  • Catnip plants discourage both mosquitoes and garden pests. Source: Catnip repels insects


For germination results that are far better than my initial attempt: 

  • Place the seeds in the freezer overnight.
  • The following day, soak the seeds in hot water (not boiling) -- 12 to 24 hours.
  • Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep, and keep moist until seedlings appear (about 7-9 days). Source: How to grow catnip from seed without a green thumb                              

Growing Tips

I grow my catnip in partial shade on the porch.  If your catnip plant is in a smallish container, expect to water it every day or two in the summer.  Even though my catnip looked super happy, it rarely flowered – which meant I didn’t have much opportunity for seed saving.


Rabbits and birds are not interested in catnip.  If the monsoon season is exceptionally wet, keep an eye out for mealy bugs. 

Wishing you and your cats endless benefits from your garden!