Growing Catnip: A Guide to Cultivating Your Cat’s Favorite Plant

Catnip, a beloved herb that drives our feline friends into a frenzy, can be a delightful addition to your garden. But how do you grow catnip in a way that keeps your cats happy without sacrificing your other plants? In this guide, we’ll explore the secrets to successfully cultivating catnip while ensuring your cats don’t destroy it.

Creating a Cat-Friendly Space

First and foremost, choose a location where your cats can freely indulge in their catnip adventures. Cats love to rub, roll, and chew on catnip, sometimes to the point of destruction. To protect your plants, consider placing bamboo sticks or thin dowels throughout the catnip patch, making it impossible for your cat to lie on top of the plant.

Planting Catnip

Catnip is a low perennial plant that branches loosely, with white, unassuming blooms. It displays its enchanting fragrance and allure when crushed or rubbed. Plant catnip in a sunny area with well-drained soil, spacing the plants 18 to 24 inches apart. To boost growth, mix aged compost or other organic matter into the soil, providing your catnip with the nutrients it needs.

Watering and Feeding

Regularly check the moisture level of the soil, watering whenever the top inch feels dry. Catnip enjoys frequent watering, especially during dry periods. Additionally, feeding your catnip with a water-soluble plant food can encourage lush leaf production, ensuring your cats are never deprived of their favorite herb.

Harvesting Catnip

Once your catnip plants reach a height of 6 to 8 inches, you can start harvesting the leaves. Cut the stems at any time during the growing season, but for the most potent scent, consider air-drying the leaves. Dried catnip leaves can be used to create sachets, cat pillows, or even herbal tea.

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Protecting Your Catnip

Some cats can be a bit too rough on plants, so it’s essential to safeguard your catnip from their enthusiastic affections. To prevent your cat from flattening the plant, cover it with an arch of chicken wire, allowing the stems to grow through the holes while protecting the base and roots. Alternatively, intersperse the catnip with bamboo stakes to discourage cats from rolling on top of it.

Bringing Catnip Indoors

If you have indoor cats, don’t worry – you can still provide them with the joy of catnip. Grow catnip in containers that you can rotate between outdoors and indoors. Remember, catnip requires ample sunlight, so make sure to bring the pot back outside regularly.

Attracting Cats to Your Garden

Catnip can serve a dual purpose by acting as a natural deterrent for rodents in your vegetable garden. By planting catnip near your vegetables, you create an enticing environment for your cat, helping to keep the rodent population in check.

Catnip Sticks
Use smooth sticks or dowels placed 2 to 3 inches apart within the canopy of your catnip to keep your cats from flattening it.

Catnip Cat Pot
Many cats can’t resist the fragrance and flavor of catnip. You can move a pot inside for an indoor cat, but be sure to bring it back outside so that the plant will get enough sunlight.


Q: Can catnip be grown indoors?
A: Absolutely! Growing catnip in containers allows you to bring the joy of catnip to your indoor cats. Just remember to provide ample sunlight for the plant by periodically moving the pot outside.

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Q: How do I prevent cats from ruining my catnip plants?
A: To protect your catnip from enthusiastic feline love, you can cover the plants with chicken wire or intersperse them with bamboo stakes. These methods prevent your cats from flattening the plants while still allowing them to enjoy the catnip’s fragrance.

Q: Can I use dried catnip leaves for anything besides attracting cats?
A: Yes, you can! Dried catnip leaves can be used to create sachets, cat pillows, or even herbal tea. Get creative and explore the various ways to enjoy the benefits of catnip.

Now that you have a comprehensive guide to growing catnip, it’s time to embark on this delightful journey. With the right care and precautions, you can cultivate a cat-friendly oasis filled with the intoxicating charm of catnip. For more information and a wide range of catnip products, visit the Ames Farm Center. Happy gardening and happy cats!