Catmint Plant Guide: How To Grow Catmint, Plant and Care Tips for Catnip

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | February 26, 2024

Man looking at some catmint plant wonders how to identify types of catmint ground cover plants, catmint vs catnip, what's the difference, and how to propagate catmint indoors and out.

The Catmint plant is an easy-to-grow perennial herb that produces fragrant foliage and beautiful spikes of flowers in shades of lavender, pink, purple, blue or white.

The herb is first thought to have been cultivated in the Roman town of Nepeti where it was used as an insect repellent and in making herbal tea.

With very few pests or problems, Catmint is one of the most versatile, drought-tolerant, and easy-to-grow perennials you can add to your garden or indoor containers.

But, you should know that catnip and catmint aren’t exactly the same plant, although they are very similar.

In this comprehensive Catmint plant guide, you will learn all about how to grow Catmint successfully, including tips on planting, caring for, using Catmint in your garden and growing it for its uses.

Catmint Plant Overview: What Is Catmint and Is It the Same as Catnip?

Catmint (Nepeta) refers to a genus of around 250 herbaceous perennial plant species in the Lamiaceae or mint family with at least 20 grown for ornamental purposes.1

This includes popular garden herbs like Catmint, which is not the same as catnip, the popular herb that cats love.

The genus name Nepeta is said to be derived from the ancient Roman town of Nepeti where these plants grew wild.


(Nepeta )

Catmint Plant in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Genus: Nepeta
  • Leaf: Heart-shaped, aromatic gray-green leaves
  • Seed: Tiny brown nutlets
  • Blossoms: Spikes of small, tubular, lavender, purple, pink or white flowers
  • Native Habitat: Europe, Asia, Africa
  • Height: 1 to 3 feet
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Native Growing Zone: Zones 3 to 8

Native to Europe, Asia and parts of Africa, Catmint grows best in full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. The plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and can spread 1 to 3 feet wide depending on the variety.

The most popular ornamental species in North America is Nepeta x faassenii, also known as Faassen’s Catmint.

How To Grow Catmint Plant

Catmint grows best in full sun to partial shade.5 It thrives in average, well-draining soil and adapts to a wide soil pH between 5.0 and 7.5.

However, these plants can also tolerate dry, poor soils but still require good drainage.

For the best results, plant Catmint from spring through early fall, once the threat of frost has passed or in fall about 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected frost. Choose a site with well-draining soil.

Close-up of Catmint Plant showcasing delicate blue flowers with a blurred background.

(Image: KovalskiOlga9)

You can also amend poorly draining soils with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and enrich the soil.

Space your Catmint Plants 12 to 18 inches apart depending on variety. They particularly look beautiful planted in borders, pathways, and rock gardens.

The dwarf types also work well in containers, just keep them out of reach of your pets if you want the plant to actually grow to harvest stage.

Growing Catmint Plants From Seeds or Seedlings

The best time to start Catmint from seed is 4 to 6 weeks before your last expected frost date. Sow seeds indoors just below the soil surface in seed trays or pots using a sterile seed starting mix.

Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and move the trays or pots to a sunny window for extra sunlight. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart as they grow.

Once they have a good root system, harden them off and transplant them outdoors after all danger of frost.

Note that not all Catmint varieties, particularly the newer ones, produce viable seeds.5

That said, if you want quicker results, you can choose to plant nursery-grown Catmint seedlings or mature plants. Look for young, green, disease-free plants without rootbound roots.

Transplanting Catmint

To transplant Catmint:

  1. Dig holes for your Catmint Plants slightly wider and deeper than the rootball.
  2. Carefully remove plants from containers, loosen any circled roots, and place them in the holes.
  3. Backfill with soil, firming it gently around the roots to remove air pockets.
  4. Water thoroughly after planting.

For the best outcome, add a couple of layers of mulch around the plants to keep moisture and manage the soil temperature but avoid pressing mulch right up against stems.

Companion Plants for Catmint

Catmint pairs beautifully with other sun-loving perennials,6 roses, and ornamental grasses.

Close-up view of Catmint Plant displaying clusters of light purple flowers with intricate patterns, in a background of more blossoms.

(Image: Physical Pixel10)

Try combining Catmint with:

  • Yarrow (Achillea)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera)
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis)
  • Salvia (Salvia)

Caring for Catmint Plants

Caring for Catmint Plants consists of several essential aspects to ensure their optimal growth and bloom.


Water Catmint Plants regularly with around an inch of water per week during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system.

Once established, Catmint is quite drought tolerant and requires little irrigation beyond normal rainfall. However, the plants may benefit from occasional watering during very dry spells.

Avoid overwatering as Catmint dislikes wet feet. Add mulch to help maintain even soil moisture.

Soil and Fertilizing

Catmint thrives in lean soil and generally doesn’t need much fertilizer. In fact, over-loving them with excess nitrogen can cause floppy growth and fewer flowers.

Graphics that show that steps in growing catmints.

Therefore, only topdress established plants with compost or use a balanced organic fertilizer at half strength in early spring only if needed. Alternatively, you can maintain 2 to 3 inches of mulch to enrich the soil as it breaks down over time.

Pruning and Maintenance

Pinch back tips of young Catmint Plants to promote bushy growth. After initial flowering, you can shear plants back substantially to induce bushier regrowth and heavier reblooming.

Trim Catmint back to 6 inches after the first frost in fall. Cutting plants back regularly prevents legginess and encourages the compact mounding form.

Trim off faded flower spikes to keep plants looking tidy. This is optional since Catmint will naturally repeat bloom on its own.

Note that Catmint grows fast and spreads readily.1 Therefore, keep it contained by planting within borders or beds.

You can also grow aggressive spreaders in containers to limit their spread.

Catmint Pests and Problems

Fortunately, Catmint rarely suffers from serious pest or disease issues.1 Its aromatic oils naturally help deter common garden pests like Japanese beetles, aphids, cabbage loopers and flea beetles.

However, occasional issues include:

  • Aphids
  • Slugs and snails
  • Spider mites
  • Leaf spot
  • Root rot if overwatered
  • Powdery mildew due to overcrowding

Pests can easily be removed with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

To avoid occasional problems:

  • Ensure good air circulation between plants.
  • Promptly remove any diseased foliage.
  • Avoid overhead watering which can spread foliar diseases.
  • Only water the plants as needed, do not overwater.

How To Propagate Catmint

Catmint is one of the easiest perennials to propagate by division, stem cuttings or seeds.1,5

Close-up view of Catmint leaves displaying its serrated edges and rich green texture.

(Image: Stickpen11)

  • From Seed: Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Barely cover with soil, keep moist, and move outside after the last frost.
    You can also direct-sow the seeds in prepared beds once the soil warms in spring but make sure to thin seedlings 12 to 18 inches apart. However, note that not all Catmint varieties, particularly the newer ones, produce viable seeds.5
  • From Cuttings: Take 3 to 4-inch stem cuttings in spring or summer. Remove lower leaves, dip in rooting hormone, and stick in sterile potting mix.
    Keep the soil moist until new growth appears then transplant the new plants after roots form.
  • By Division: Divide established Catmint Plants in early spring or fall by digging up a mature, healthy section that has roots and shoots. Replant these divisions 12 to 18 inches apart.

Key Features of Catmint Plants: How To Identify the Catmint Plant Vs. Catnip

Some of the key features of the Catmint Plant that can help you identify it include:1

  • The aromatic, minty scent
  • Gray-green heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges
  • Spikes of tubular lavender, pink, purple, blue, or white flowers blooming spring through fall
  • Attracts pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Deer and rabbit-resistant
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Low maintenance
  • Hardy in zones 3 to 8

Note that the Catmint Plant is not exactly the same as Catnip (Nepeta cataria),2 which is a more strongly scented and attractive member of the mint family and which cats can’t get enough of.

Catnip also has less ornamental value than Catmint hybrids as well as cultivars grown specifically for gardens.

Graphic of Catmint Plant identification showing images of Catmint leaves, Catmint flower, and Catmint seeds.

When planted en masse, the shorter varieties of the Catmint Plant make an excellent flowering ground cover. Taller types work well in borders and cottage gardens.

The aromatic foliage also repels pests like aphids, flea beetles, cabbage loopers and squash bugs.

6 Catmint Varieties

There are dozens of Nepeta varieties and cultivars.1 As such, it helps to understand the differences between Catmint varieties when selecting the best ones for your garden:

Vibrant Catmint flowers in bloom with shades of purple, positioned against a background of greenery and a blurred planter box.

(Image: David J. Stang12)

1. Walker’s Low

(Nepeta x faassenii)3

This is the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year and the most popular variety.4 It grows 30 inches tall and wide and produces lavender-blue flowers mid-late summer.

2. Junior Walker

(Nepeta x faassenii)

It is more compact at 18 inches tall and wide and produces lavender-blue blooms from late spring to fall.

Garden bed with various green plants showcasing purple Catmint blooms, surrounded by a pebble ground cover, and accompanied by plant identification markers.

(Image: peganum13)

3. Blue Moon

(Nepeta nervosa)

It is a dense clumping dwarf with big lavender blooms with white lips. It grows 6 to 10 inches tall.

4. Cat’s Meow

(Nepeta racemosa)

It is a dense upright habit that can grow to 20 inches tall with a long bloom period producing deep blue flowers.

Close-up of a plant with white and purple flowers and green leaves, set against a background of a garden bed with rich soil and surrounding foliage.

(Image: Salicyna14)

5. Sweet Dreams

(Nepeta subsessilis)

Produces large pink blooms on 18-inch clumps and thrives in moist soil and partial shade. It thrives in humid climates.

6. Purrsian Blue

(Nepeta racemosa)

It produces profuse periwinkle blue blooms with dark calyces and grows to 18 inches tall.

How To Use Catmint in Your Garden

Catmint offers several benefits to gardens:7

  1. Long season of color from spring through fall
  2. Provides nectar for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
  3. Repels deer, rabbits and certain insect pests
  4. Tolerates heat, drought and poor soils
  5. Extremely low maintenance and easy to grow
  6. Useful for borders, paths, containers, and more

Medicinal Uses for Catmint

In addition to being an attractive garden plant, Catmint has a long history of medicinal uses.8 The leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried to make a minty herbal tea that helps:

  • Soothe indigestion
  • Reduce menstrual cramps
  • Relieve chest congestion
  • Lessen anxiety
  • Aid sleep

You can also add fresh Catmint leaves and flowers to salads, soups, sauces and more. However, be sure to use plants grown organically without pesticides if you plan on consuming them.

With its graceful flowers and aromatic foliage, Catmint is one of the easiest and most useful perennials for borders, rock gardens, pathway edging and more.

Give this tough, versatile plant a try this growing season and enjoy years of beauty and pleasure from the Catmint Plant in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catmint Plant

What Is the Difference Between Catmint and Catnip?

Catmint and Catnip are both in the mint family, but Catnip contains more nepetalactone, inducing euphoria in cats.7 Additionally, Catnip has a weedy appearance, whereas Catmint is cultivated for its ornamental value.

Is Catmint Edible?

Yes, Catmint leaves and flowers are edible and can be used to make herbal tea,1 salads, soups, sauces and more. However, only use Catmint grown organically without pesticides.

What Does Catmint Repel?

The essential oils in Catmint help repel certain insects like aphids,1 flea beetles and cabbage loopers. The aromatic scent also deters deer.

What Plants Grow Well With Catmint?

Catmint pairs nicely with other sun-loving perennials like salvia, yarrow, lavender, coreopsis, bee balm, blanket flowers and ornamental grasses.6 It’s also a traditional companion for roses.

Does Catmint Come Back Every Year?

Yes, Catmint is a hardy herbaceous perennial that overwinters well and regrows each spring.1 Be sure to cut plants back in fall and mulch to insulate roots in cold climates.


1NC State Extension. (2023). Nepeta. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Box. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

2University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2023). Catnip, Nepeta cataria. Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

3Klingaman, G. (2007, July 27). Plant of the Week: Walker’s Low Catmint. University of Arkansas System. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

4Winter, N. (2006, December 28). Walker’s Low catmint named perennial of year. Mississippi State University Extension. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

5University of Arkansas System. (2023). Randy’s Plant Pick: Catmint (Nepeta spp.). Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

6Colorado State University. (2023). When does catmint bloom? Colorado State University Extension. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

7Bugeja, S. (2021, April 8). Catmints and catnip: Which is “purrfect” for your garden? University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

8Tjandra, C. (2019, May). Catmint, a Useful and Irresistible Herb. Eat The Planet. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from <>

9Photo by KovalskiOlga. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

10Photo by Physical Pixel. Pexels. Retrieved from <>

11Photo by Stickpen. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

12Photo by David J. Stang. CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

13Photo by peganum. CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved from <>

14Photo by Salicyna. CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

15Species Information Image: A bunch of purple flowers that are in the grass Photo by Ronin. (2023, October 26) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <>