About Catmint: According to records, catmint was first grown in the Roman town of Nepeti, which explains its genus name, Nepeta. This close relative of catnip also attracts cats, as well as being an extremely decorative plant because of its profuse purple flower spikes. In France the leaves and young shoots are used for seasoning, and it has a long history as a medicinal herb as well as a natural form of insect repellent. As a tea or infusion, it has been used to lower fever, act as a mild sedative, relieve tension, or improve digestion. Miss Bardswell, in her 1928 publication "The Herb Garden," writes of Catmint: 'Before the use of tea from China, our English peasantry were in the habit of brewing Catmint Tea, which they said was quite as pleasant and a good deal more wholesome." Modern use of this plant is primarily limited to making toys for cats.
Catmint Germination: Catmint prefers well drained soil and full sun, though it can grow quite well in almost any soil. Direct sow the seeds after the last spring frost, planting them 1/4" deep in rows 20" apart; when the seedlings appear, thin to 18-24" apart. Catmint also grows well as a container plant. In the garden, catmint repels pests such as ants, aphids, and mice.
Growing Catmint Seeds: Keep the soil evenly moist until the plant is established, taking care not to get the foliage wet to prevent disease. After the plant has been established, it can tolerate dry soil. Control weeds, especially when the plants are small. To promote bushy growth, prune back the taller stems.
Harvesting Catmint: Catmint leaves can be harvested as soon as the flowers begin to bloom; select individual leaves or flowers as needed. The leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen; when dried, store them in an airtight container to preserve freshness.
Saving Catmint Seeds: Collect the spikes of seed heads individually as they begin to dry and turn brown. Spread them out to dry out of direct sunlight, then thresh out the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place for five years.
Detailed Catmint Info: Nepeta cataria. Perennial. 80 days. Zone 3-9. 42,500 seeds per oz. 24-30" height. 18-24" spacing. Produces a square-stemmed plant with downy, medium green leaves and abundant spikes of purple flowers.