Hardiness Zone: 5a
Linda from Sigourney, Iowa
Catnip (catmint) is pretty easy to grow indoors as long as it gets enough light. When growing outdoors, catmint will tolerate a bit of shade. Indoor light is much less intense, so a southern-facing window will work best. To start seeds, mix two parts sterilized potting soil and one part coarse sand, perlite, or vermiculite in a small pot. Sow seeds on top of moistened growing medium and press them into the soil just slightly. Cover the top of the pot with a plastic bag or the top half of a soda bottle (lid on). Place the pot in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight. Catmint needs 60ºF to 70ºF temperatures to germinate. After about 7 to 10 days you should see some sprouts. As soon as the sprouts sport their first set of leaves you can remove the plastic cover and move the pot to a sunny window. Indoor air is usually dry, especially in the winter, so be sure check soil moisture levels daily and be sure to keep the seedlings moist (not wet). Catmint can be grown in pots year round, but they'll grow best if you set them outside for the summer. Plants can be pinched back as they grow to encourage a full shape. If you decide to transplant catnip into the garden for the summer, bury the entire pot in the ground. Mint spreads rapidly and it will take over if not kept in bounds. Bring herbs inside again before a hard frost. Catmint grown in pots can be maintained by periodic light feedings and occasional repotting. Harvest fresh leaves as needed for your kitties. Dry leaves by cutting off stems and hanging them upside down to dry. Store them in airtight containers.
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If you have some already growing outside just pot it up and bring it in. Mints are hard to start from seed. If you don't have any growing then get a start from a greenhouse or plant store.
Mint likes a lot of light, but otherwise it's pretty hardy. It will be hard to keep the cats out of the plants so you might want to put them in plant hangers.
By the way it makes a great tea for you too. It is calming to the nerves. Crush a handful of leaves and pour boiling water over them and steep for about 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy, with or without honey for sweetness.
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