Catmint, Nepeta x faassenii, is an aromatic member of the mint family. It’s a popular addition to gardens because of its fragrant foliage and pretty flowers. We like it for lots of reasons, including its array of blooming hues. Popular selections of catmint to plant include «Limelight,» which has lime-green foliage and blue flowers; «Kit Cat,» which has gray-green foliage and purplish flowers; «Select Blue,» which has darker blue blooms; «Snowflake,» which has white flowers; and «Cats Meow,» which has flowers in shades of light blue. If you’re not yet eager to add catmint to your garden, read on and let us tell you a few other reasons we love this plant.
1. Catmint has aromatic foliage and beautiful flowers.
Nepeta x faassenii has fragrant foliage that is silvery and soft, and it produces attractive flowers in late spring and early summer. The foliage is gray-green with scalloped, heart-shaped leaves that form in mounds. Its long-lasting flowers appear on spikes, usually as small lavender or blue blooms. Of catmint’s other related species, according to The New Southern Living Garden Book, «With the exception of catnip (Nepeta cataria), these plants are valuable for their spikes of two-lipped blue or blue-violent (or sometimes pink, white, or yellow) flowers.»
2. Catmint is dependable.
Nepeta species are known to spread, so they require some attention to keep them in check. When you plant catmint, you can be certain it will grow and spread; The New Southern Living Garden Book describes Nepeta species as «vigorous, spreading members of the mint family.» If tended properly, however, they can be corralled in the garden. The New Southern Living Garden Book recommends, «As soon as blossoms fade, shear plants back by half, or cut faded flower stems to the ground to encourage rebloom. (Most species seed freely and can become invasive if spent flowers are not removed.)» All catmint needs to thrive in the South is full or partial sun (afternoon shade is good), plenty of water (particularly as it’s getting established), and rich, well-drained soil.
3. Catmint is easy to divide with cuttings.
If you want even more catmint, or if you want to share the catmint you have growing in your garden with friends, it’s easy to do. The New Southern Living Garden Book says, «In winter or early spring, cut out last year’s growth to make way for new stems. At that time, you can also divide clumps for increase, though it’s easy to start new plants from cuttings (take them before flower buds form). When buying named selections, be sure to obtain cutting-grown plants; seedlings vary in flower color and habit.»
4. Catmint is resistant to deer.
Need we say more? Nepeta species are not usually snacked on by deer or other garden visitors. If your space has a problem with pesky visitors that like to browse your flowers, Nepeta species might be good choices to plant in your yard.
5. Catmint’s relatives are equally plantable.
While «Limelight,» with its blue-lavender flowers and lime-green foliage, is a popular Nepeta x faassenii selection, many related species are also planted in the South and around the world. Related species include Nepeta «Blue Dragon,» which produces blue-violet flowers and grows upright to 2 feet tall and wide; catnip, or Nepeta cataria, which has small white or pink flowers; and Nepeta racemosa, also known as Persian catmint, which is sprawling but has some nicely compact selections, including «Blue Ice,» «Superba,» and «Walker’s Low.»
This pretty purple perennial will always have a place in our gardens. What’s your favorite summertime bloomer?