Grow Your Own Catnip: Fun For Your Favorite Feline

Grow Your Own Catnip: Fun For Your Favorite Feline

My name is Rebecca, and I am a cat addict.  To quote the ultimate crazy cat lady, trying to land a man in what is either the best, most man-repelling e-Harmony video EVER or simply her funny audition to be a YouTube sensation: “I love cats. I love every kind of cat. I just want to hug all of them, but I can’t, can’t hug every cat.”

Have you seen it?  

(“I’m sorry, I’m thinking about cats again.”)

If you love your furry feline so much you want to give Fluffy* her very own, organic catnip, you can be the best cat-parent on the block and grow your own.  However, according to The Herb Gardener, it might exude an aroma that is a cross between peppermint and skunk.  I don’t even know how nature crosses such opposite smells, but if that’s the case, I’d go with their advice, and choose a spot that’s away from your patio or deck or wherever you might be hosting a dinner party.

  • You can plant from seed, stem-cuttings, or root ball division.
  • Plant catnip in well-drained soil, and while it will grow in shady spots, but does well in partial to full sun.
  • It’s best to plant your seeds or cuttings now and into the late fall for a denser crop, but catnip can be started indoors, and transferred to your garden in the spring, after the last chance of frost.
  • When your plants reach 5 inches in height, thin them so that they’re 12 – 18 inches apart.
  • Catnip grows to be about 3 to 4 feet tall, with lavender flowers, and is a perennial plant in the mint family.
  • For the best, most euphoric results, harvest catnip when the plant flowers. Cut the entire stem at the base to use or dry. Don’t worry about cutting too much, as part of the mint family, it is a prolific plant and will regrow quickly.
  • Keep a sprig of fresh catnip in your refrigerator for a few days, or dry by hanging a bunch, flowers down, in a cool, dry space.

My neighbor suggests storing your cat’s play toys in a jar of catnip.  I suggest you film the results of your cat’s play and post to YouTube.

Even though you may be tempted to try a hit of catnip to see if you get the same buzz as Fluffy does, it won’t work. As much as we like to think we are one with our feline friends, our olfactory systems and brains are built differently.  However, according to, as far back as the 1600s, Europeans were using the herb as a tisane, “brewing tea with its leaves, making juice from them, and even smoking or chewing them. At various times, the plant was believed to cure colic in infants and excessive flatulence, hives, and toothaches in adult.”

Whether those are true or not, catnip does have a medicinal use as a mosquito repellent.  PopSugar has a great DIY recipe to make your own “bug off” from your new addition to your herb garden.

*Fluffy might be the most unoriginal name out there.  (Sorry to all Fluffy-lovers.) What’s the best cat name you’ve ever heard?  I’m partial to those with an article, e.g. “The Admiral,” or with a middle initial, like the Bloggess’s Hunter S. Thomcat (who gets extra points for the literary reference).  Leave a note here or over on the Twitter to tell us your favorite cat name, and if you’re planning to grow your own catnip for a feline or a bug-repeller: @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely.

(Photo Credit: Chop Wood Carry Water Plant SeedsEmil Yedowitz LandscapingBest Cat Art)