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Catmint

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What is Catmint?

Catmint (Nepeta cataria) is an herb from the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is a low-growing, spreading evergreen shrub, growing up to 25-50 cm (9.8-19.7 in) tall. The pointed oval leaves are up to 4 cm (1.6 in) long and have a refreshing, slightly pungent aroma. The flowers are small, white or pale blue, and borne in spikes at the end of the stems.

Catmint has a long association with cats and has been used as a remedy for an array of ailments. It has a calming effect on cats and can be used to stimulate digestion, reduce stress, and aid in preventing fleas. The plant is thought to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is used in many herbal remedies.

Catmint is an easy to grow evergreen shrub. It is drought resistant, needing little maintenance and growing in sun or shade. It is hardy throughout USDA Zones 6-10 and can be propagated from cuttings or divisions. Its spread is controlled by heavy pruning, but this will reduce the number of flowers.

Uses of Catmint

Catmint has numerous uses, both culinary and medicinal, in addition to its calming effect on cats.

In culinary use, the leaves can be used fresh or dried to make teas and tinctures. They have a mild mint-like flavor and are excellent in salads, sandwiches, and herbal vinegars. The leaves contain vitamins A and C, as well as manganese, iron, magnesium, and calcium.

The plant has been used medicinally for centuries. It is high in terpenes, which are plant-based molecules with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties. Traditionally, the tincture of the plant is used to treat respiratory and digestive disorders, muscle pain, and anxiety. More recent research suggests that it may have a role in treating cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.

Catmint for Cats

Catmint has been associated with cats for centuries, and its medicinal properties have been used in many cultures to aid in the health and wellbeing of cats. It is thought to have a calming effect on cats, which can help reduce stress and aggression, and is also known to aid in digestion.

Catmint can also help to repel fleas, as well as deterring other pests. It can be used as a preventative measure and is sometimes added to cat food or toys. Adding catmint to your indoor cat’s environment can help keep the fleas away.

Catmint two

Growing Catmint

Catmint is an easy to grow herb and a welcome addition to any garden. It requires very little care and maintenance, and can be grown in sun or partial shade. The plant’s spreading habit is controlled by heavy pruning, however this will reduce the number of flowers.

When planting catmint, ensure the soil is rich and well-draining and the position provides enough sunlight for good flowering. Once the plant is established, water regularly, but avoid overwatering, as the roots may rot. Feed the plant once or twice a year with a balanced fertilizer, such as a 13-13-13 mix.

Catmint can be propagated from stem cuttings or divisions and will often reseed itself. The plant blooms in late summer and will flower continuously until the first frost. Deadheading wil encourage additional blooming in some varieties.

Conclusion

Catmint is a low-growing, spreading evergreen shrub belonging to the mint family and native to Europe and Asia. It has a long association with cats and is thought to have a calming effect on them. The plant has numerous uses, both culinary and medicinal, in addition to its calming effect on cats.

Catmint is an easy to grow herb, needing very little maintenance and growing in sun or shade. It can be propagated from stem cuttings or divisions and will often reseed itself. This herb is a welcome addition to any garden, with its refreshing aroma and beautiful, white or pale blue flowers.

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