Nepeta Queries

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I bought a Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (I think) or it was Six Hills Giant, but I'm pretty sure it is a Walker's Low. I planted it last year.
1. Can anyone tell me the difference between these two plants?

This plant flourished last year and gave us much pleasure. It grew to a beautiful, upright plant of 30 to 36" X 36" to 40" and bloomed all season and remained upright all season.
This year it started out the same with an early April bloom, upright lovely plant. Then, one day, I discovered it was lying completely flat with the stems in a spiral pattern. It has remained flat ever since.

2. What the heck happened?
3. Should I cut it back?
4. If so, How far?
5. Should I try to get a support? It "may" recover since it's a rather tough plant, but it is FLAT right now.

I've been researching the above two mentioned nepetas. Both are "supposed" to be sterile. In the plant files, both have comments from gardeners saying they have had seedlings. The reason I mention this is because I got the above plant at a local plant sale from a local gardener. This came out of someone's garden, and I'm thinking it was some sort of seedling that came up from her 'Walker's Low'.

I have all kinds of Nepetas because I think they give such connectivity to the gardens, so easy to grow, has nice grey-green foliage that complements the delicate lavender bloom and as a bonus, it blooms early to late in the season. What's not to like??
I have never had trouble with any other of my Nepetas lying flat on the ground. I think a cat has laid in this Nepeta f. 'Walker's Low", even though, I have no cats because I have backyard songbirds. Two of my neighbors have cats. However, I haven't had trouble with any of my Nepetas laying down until this one this year, but not last year.

6. So, what do you think? Cat? or lacks form and needs Support?
I don't have any of the Nepeta cataria which is supposed to be alluring to cats. Yes, I suppose any of the Nepetas could possible allure a cat, but not last year, and not any of the other nepetas I have.

7. You suppose this one has more allure? Maybe because it's a seedling? But, then, what about last year? Same cats.

I actually bought two of her Nepetas from the plant sale last year. They are planted in two different locations. The other is smaller but very upright. It is performing like the larger one did last year. Nice.
I bought two more from the same lady this year and haven't planted them yet. I am not sure I want to plant them if they are going to be cat magnets. I don't want cats in my yard because I have and feed lots of backyard songbirds.

Nepeta cataria is the one that allures cats. This is "supposedly" (and I think it is) Nepeta faassenii (lots of double letters! why do they do that?).

So, I'm puzzled why some neighborhood cat took a liking to this particular Nepeta leaving the rest alone. Or, is it something other than a cat?

I'd like your thoughts on cat vs. hmm something else (Wind? Rain? Second established year?)
And, how to handle this plant.
And, if you think its parentage is "Walker's Low" even though it is labled as sterile. This woman has brought two or three Nepeta f. 'Walker's Low' each plant sale each year.

Sorry, this is so long.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)



According to our favorite site (Missouri) Walkers Low is two to two and a half feet.

But according to Bluestone, Six Hills Giant is three feet tall (Missouri has them both at the same height as Walkers Low.

So I think you might have a Six Hills.

I have a whole bunch of different kinds of nepeta, and so do people for whom I garden. I noticed at the end of last year that some of theirs was flat, so I gave it a major haircut. A good six inches. This year it's looking fab. So you can try giving it a major chop and see whether it comes back stronger.

Maybe worth a try? It grows back really fast.


Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I looked at it again today. It's starting to put out little green stems up and down the long, flat stems. I think I'm going to cut it back leaving about 12 inches. Otherwise, I believe it's going to start stems growing upright from the stems lying on the ground.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

That sounds like a good plan. I have discovers that it is an incredibly forgiving plant, and it responds remarkably well to being cut back sharply. I brought over only a couple of Nepeta 'Dawn to Dusk' because it was so prolific at home that I didn't need to bring it. So I only brought two plants and they languished. And it's a bit hard to find, especially since the Chicago Botanic Garden dissed it (I think they are wrong). Anyway, I was thinking of pulling out a really poorly performing one, and instead gave it a chop earlier this season. I mean a REAL chop, down to about three inches. The result is as you see. It's taller and healthier than it has been in the four years since I moved it here.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Putnam Valley, NY(Zone 5b)

Sounds like a cat got into the nepeta. The plant makes them crazy, just like catnip, and they roll around. Our neighbor's cat killed all of mine.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

krainieri, I hate to hear that. I like cats. We used to have one until it died of old age,
They sure can be a nuisance, however. And they're big predators to the backyard songbirds.
Some Nepetas are more alluring to cats than others. Nepeta cataria is the most popular with cats.,

Krainieri, I'd try different species and see if there is one that the cats find uninteresting.

Nepetas make such good garden plants. If I have any more trouble with this Nepeta, and I think it's a descendant of Walker's Low, I may get rid of it and replace it with a Nepeta that is unappealing to cats. Several neighbors have cats, I have Nepetas all over my yard, but this is the first time I have had a problem. Although, this Nepeta was in my garden last year without any problems. So, maybe this one has too much of the allure and needs to be replaced,

I came across this excellent article about Nepetas I want to share with you. The name of the article is:
Catnip and its Cousins: Best Known Species of Nepeta by Andy Van Havelingen. It was put out by Mother Earth.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Are you sure it's cats? A number of cats pass through my yard and I have tons of nepeta, and they never touch it. I do have catnip in a can for my cats, and they don't go nuts - they just eat it.

I have Six Hills Giant, Dawn to Dusk, Sweet Dreams, Snowflake, Joanna Reed, Souvenir. So far (fingers crossed) untouched.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I think it is. All the rest of my Nepetas are upright and looking good. This one is flat. Last year it was quite upright. I think either a neighborhood cat or a stray decided to lay down in it. I have two other Walkers Low, and they are quite upright.

Beaver Falls, PA(Zone 6a)

I just think that your plant has that habit - laying down after reaching the height that you mentioned yours is. I too would give it a hair cut. Cat Mint seems so forgiving of shearing, as mentioned above.

I received one in trade last year. Mine is one of the really short varieties as I wanted it in a rectangular pot for the porch, in a place where the cat could reach it. We have a totally fenced in area off the porch area for both the cat and dog, so I plant pots in that area with plants that are not poisonous to the pets. It did well last summer, but the cat was not interested in it. We had to put that cat down around Christmas due to kidney failure from old age, and the new rescue kitty we now have is not the least bit interested in it either.

Just thought I'd mention this particular Nepeta made it through the winter in the pot, as did the chives in the large pot right next to it. I was surprised but really pleased. Next fall I plan to dig few pieces and plant them in the in the veggie garden to over winter, just in case we have a harder winter. Last year was a particularly mild winter here in Western PA. You just never know how the weather will be from one winter to the next. The previous two were very, very bad winters, with lots of snow, cold, and ice.

I can't remember the variety of Cat Mint this is, but will try to look at my notes to see if I wrote it down. Right now, several of the stalks are about 18 inches tall, taller that I thought they would be, and they are blooming. This plant bloomed late summer last year, and so far I don't see any volunteers in the area around the pot. The person sending it to me did mention that it does self seed though. I may give this one a hair cut too.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

For those who are truly captivated (you know, crazy like me) The Chicago Botanic Garden did an extensive study of catmints. It's wordy, but there is a great table comparing them.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

My sisters cats never seemed interested in her Nepeta, but one day I was weeding around it, brushing it and releasing the fragrance, they came over, rubbed it and rolled around for 10 minutes like cats with catnip, then lay down next to it for nice naps. I thought it was my touching the plant that set them off.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I have a dog that decided to lie down on a plant recently and completely flattened it. It was a one-time thing; he just didn't notice it was there. Or maybe he thought it would be soft, I'm not sure. Could that be a possibility?

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Well, anything is possible. I don't know what happened. The thing that puzzles me is last year this plant was upright all summer long. This year, it is flat.
Anyway, I cut it back.
I don't put up with floppers. I either cut them back or move them to a more sunny position. Usually, floppers are due to not enough sunlight. At least that's the case in my yard. If the plant is in full sun and still continually flops, it's out.
I cut back a huge Nepeta f. 'Cat's Meow' today. There were three smaller plants that had taken root. I moved them to a border I've been trying to get Nepeta to grow there, but drainage hasn't been good enough. I re-did the area, it's on a slope, so the Nepeta should do fine. I've got 5 Nepeta about 4' apart as a border.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I had a Perovskia that flopped, and like your philosophy, it was out! I have a "no stake" policy with a few exceptions. We can grow Delphineums here and I am willing to stake them. Actually, I leave peony rings in place permanently for them so it is really no work. Also I had some enormous hollyhocks up against the garage and tied them up, too. But anybody else who can't stand up is out!
How tall is your 'Cat's Meow'?

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I use permanent hoops on my Peonies also. I hate driving around in my car and seeing the beautiful peony blooms lying on the ground and sometimes in the mud. They have very large heavy blooms. If the gardener isn't willing to put up supports, I wish they wouldn't grow them. Go get some sunflowers!

My Cat's Meow doesn't get very large and I like that feature. It gets about 18". Even after some pretty heavy downpors, it's standing up nicely. The flowers a little more orchid vs. lavender. It's a nice plant.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Donna, I just found time to read the Chicago Bot. Garden article about Nepetas. I thought it was excellent. Thanks for sharing it.
I really like Nepetas. They have nice grey-green leaves which complement the lavender flowers. The grey-green leaves also give a nice variation of greens in the garden and look nice with white flowers. Nepetas bloom from very early in the season to late fall without need much care at all. They don't have pest or fungus. The only requirement is drainage. Goodness, what else would you want in a plant?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree, Nepetas are great. In particular, I am not one of those people who is happy with just foliage. I want some flower power! Nepetas fill the bill for bloom time as well as being healthy, easy to grow (for me) and non-invasive.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Can you have too many? No. I love having them in pink, white and blue. I am experimenting with cutting back the ones that show a tendency to spread a bit wide. They were being a little pushy with my campanula Bernice. I just wish I knew which blue one I was sent by mistake. I put it at the base of Constance Spry - a huge rose - and it's up to the task!

Birder, other than the Missouri site, which absolutely rocks, the Chicago Botanic Garden can be useful because they perform elaborate trials on plants. Everything from clematis to phlox. They details about height and spread and, in particular, bloom time, can really help you make choices. I for one am a big fan of the concept Pam Duthie of "Continuous Bloom" advocates. My peonies are finishing, my once blooming roses are still only about two weeks into their perhaps 8 week bloom cycle, the repeat blooming roses are all about it, and I have about 300 lily stems that will start blooming at the end of June. Since I have gotten a lot of stuff from sales, I really went nuts in the last couple of years. Having multiple peonies blooming at once is WAYYYY cool. Some of mine are finished, and some are still going to bloom. Having about 30 roses works too - many of them are three feet and under, like Morden Blush, Gruss an Aachen, Marie Pavie. They are also almost constant bloomers. So something is always going on. And next the lilies, and then the grasses. When you have a lot (thank you discounters) it doesn't matter if a rose has a bad year - there are so many others. And then plants like nepeta and salvia are the energizer bunnies of the garden. They keep going and going and going...

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

One of my goals is to have continuous blooms. I also like to try to group plants together that bloom at the same time and complement each other. I have Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir D'Andre' complementing Jude the Obscure rose on one side and Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' on the other side. The Souvenir D'Andre has been there for many years and is quite lovely. The blooms are glorious.

Speaking of Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir D'Andre', how do those that have this plant dead-head it? I've read one is supposed to cut it down low to the ground. Or heck, are you suppose to dead-head it at all? Mine has re-seeded which I'm happy about. It's certainly a politely behaved plant. This plant is so different from the average Nepeta, but I really like it. It's striking and can stand alone vs. a "filler" or supporter of some other plant. The lavender blue flower color is intense.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh, I like the idea of Souvenir with Jude. I have it with the pink Marchesa. I should have been smart and figured out that the combo would work since I used to have it with yellowish lilies at my former home.

I agree that it is different from other nepeta. I think it is very special and agree that it can stand on its own.

I do find that it is a bit fragile for me, so I started growing nepeta sibirica from seed. It is supposedly the same plant. I put some in last year that has not yet matured enough to bloom. But you know, I think I will start some more! Thank you!

Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

My Souvenir D'Andre has done surprisingly well. Maybe, it's because it's on a slope. It's not in very good soil: not lousy, but not real good either.
It's suppose to be okay in zone 4.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Linda, did you every figure out which Nepeta your have?
I think it's kind of difficult to keep track of the varieties. I have several and of course, like them all. :)

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