Nepeta Species, Common Catnip, Catmint, Catwort, Field Balm

Nepeta cataria

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Nepeta (NEP-eh-tuh) (Info)
Species: cataria (kat-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Glechoma cataria
Synonym:Nepeta bodinieri
Synonym:Nepeta ceretana
Synonym:Nepeta minor
Synonym:Nepeta mollis



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:




36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Fairhope, Alabama

Hartford, Alabama

Batesville, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Citrus Heights, California

Knights Landing, California

Los Angeles, California

Menifee, California

Merced, California

Sacramento, California

San Anselmo, California

Aurora, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Bozrah, Connecticut

Kissimmee, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Milton, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Hazlehurst, Georgia

Roopville, Georgia

Mountain Home, Idaho

Chicago, Illinois

Streator, Illinois

Albion, Indiana

Gary, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Rising Sun, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Wichita, Kansas

Benton, Kentucky

Dry Ridge, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Mount Sterling, Kentucky

Lewiston, Maine

Brookeville, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Lutherville Timonium, Maryland

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Erie, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jackson, Michigan

Lansing, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Stephenson, Michigan

White Pigeon, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Moorhead, Minnesota

Byhalia, Mississippi

Marietta, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Cole Camp, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Henderson, Nevada

Sunapee, New Hampshire

La Luz, New Mexico

Dansville, New York

Deposit, New York

Ogdensburg, New York

Charlotte, North Carolina

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Polkton, North Carolina

Dayton, Ohio

Hilliard, Ohio

Richmond, Ohio

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Eagle Point, Oregon

Gold Hill, Oregon

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania

Milford, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Brookings, South Dakota

Clarksville, Tennessee

Crossville, Tennessee(2 reports)

Austin, Texas

Bedford, Texas

Flower Mound, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Hutto, Texas

Irving, Texas

Katy, Texas(2 reports)

Lubbock, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Roanoke, Virginia

Green Acres, Washington

Greenacres, Washington

Issaquah, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Stanwood, Washington

Walla Walla, Washington

Marinette, Wisconsin

Merrimac, Wisconsin

Pulaski, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

Wittenberg, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 12, 2019, lancev from Lymm,
United Kingdom wrote:

How tall do these plants really grow?
I read they can be up to five feet.
I have a second generation plant that has reached 6' 4" and is still growing as far as I can tell.


On Sep 16, 2018, windycold from Mountain Home, ID wrote:

Started from seed from Park Seeds. They germinated great, survived really well until they got outdoors, when the cats ate all but one, which survived daily assaults and rollings until my mom mistook it for a weed (well - you try being crushed once a day and see how beautiful you look) and dug it up. I wish I could be half as tough and useful as this plant.


On Jun 13, 2015, Heavypetting from Charlotte, NC wrote:

I've been growing catnip for over 20 years and I love it. I keep about 8 plants going around our catio (cat porch). I poke the tops of the plants through the wire so they can nibble it. The flowers and buds are the best part but here in NC, the leaves grow close to the ground in winter so I can give it to my pet sitting clients year round.

If you can't find plants or seeds, buy some premium catnip. It should be full of tiny black seeds at the bottom of the container. It loves hot sun and lots of water! If the plants get too leggy just cut them back to 12 inches and within a week they will spring back with leaves and flowers. (Donate the clippings to your local shelter or cat rescue) If you want to dry some for gifts or future use, just clip the flowered tips off into a pap... read more


On Apr 1, 2015, Lolloncino from Cavaion Veronese,
Italy wrote:

So far I had a positive experience when growing nepeta cataria.

I found out that using fresh soil (better if rich, well-drained soil. It tolerates most soil conditions pH 6.1 to 7.8) improves the growth.

A good article on how to grow catnip here:


On Oct 31, 2014, SecretMonkey from Salisbury, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

My cats love this plant fresh . It is growing at the base of my "three sisters" ( a 200 year old locust and 2 deodar cedars). One side is sunny, the other side is in shade. This plant grows into luscious mounds on both sides. It grows along side clumps of Lemon Balm. I have noticed that the catnip smells lemony lately, and my cats turn their noses up at it. Since both plants are in the mint family, is it possible that they have cross pollinated, does anyone know if this is possible?


On Oct 23, 2014, LanfrancoLeo from Harrisburg, PA wrote:

Although is a non native plant I am still 100% convinced that planting some seedling of catnip in my backyard was really a blessing!!! I am very involved in helping pollinator with my gardening and catnip was literally a magnet for all the sort of pollinators. Bee , bumblebee and small sweat bee get insane when this plant bloom, i could not be happier to see a reliable food source for my garden pollinator from mid to late summer. I cut the spent flower stem in order to encourage more bloom and more bee-food supply.It bloom the very first year from sowing and is pretty hardy....moreover look that goldfinch visit often the plant for eating the seeds, making this plant even more interesting.If you want to attract bee or pollinator to your yard catnip is definitively the way to go!!


On Aug 4, 2014, Chillybean from (Zone 5a) wrote:

It is a shame we cannot totally get rid of this stuff and we never planted it to begin with. At least we found uses for Dandelions.

1. I do not like outdoor cats, so I do not want anything attracting those ferals over here to have a chance to kill the native songbirds.
2. Not native to North America and invasive.
3. The smell is horrendous, even before it flowers.
4. Cabbage Whites feed off this. A non-native butterfly that likes the cabbage family. :P


On Aug 8, 2013, ratlover1 from Rising Sun, IN wrote:

My cats are only mildly interested in the live plants, they seem to prefer it dried. Drying your own catnip is a thousand times superior to what is sold in stores (of course!).
Although it certainly can be invasive, self-seeding readily, but the seedlings are generally easy to pull up, transplant or smother. This aggressiveness can be great however if you need a tough, hardy plant to fill in a large area. It doesn't seem to compete well with weeds and grass so it hasn't (for me) spread into the lawn or other areas.
It seems to grow happily everywhere, at least in my area, whether in partial shade and dampness, or out in the baking sun in dry cracked clay. Catnip does have an unpleasant odor, mildly skunky to me. It isn't really noticeable however until the leaves are bru... read more


On Feb 27, 2013, amelliso from Lubbock, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

One of the few plants that seem indestructible in my West Texas summer heat (in the 100's) and maintains a green basal clump through the winter (zone 7). Doesn't spread much at all in my dry clay soil; just a few seedlings at the base of the mother plant.


On Jul 18, 2010, aquilusdomini from Jackson, MI wrote:

This grows natural in our backyard. It's a lovely plant and both my former cat (he passed away) and my current cat have enjoyed it both fresh and dried. It makes for a fantastic relaxing tea when flavoured with honey or sugar. Definitely worth having in the garden or just growing in your yard.


On Nov 9, 2009, DMgardener from (Daniel) Mount Orab, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Kind of a weird plant...
Germs extremely fast, grows like gangbusters but smells HORRID!!! I sowed two seeds and got two huge plants within 3 months. The tea that it makes kind of puts you to sleep.


P.S. When the barn cats accross the street notice the plants next year, I will update !


On Dec 30, 2008, Robubba from Moulton, IA wrote:

Mice hate this herb (extremely ironic). Probably equally good for keeping squirrels and rabbits away from gardens, but I don't know yet.


On May 20, 2008, donicaben from Ogdensburg, NY wrote:

Hardy and reliable. This is a must-have for all gardeners and cat lovers!

Use it as a way to keep feral cats away from your flower and veggie gardens (by planting it far away). Use it as a natural bug repellant (by planting it IN your gardens).

Nearly everywhere I've lived in upstate NY always seems to have a wild patch or two of the stuff growing somewhere and it always comes back year after year!


On Apr 9, 2008, crimsontsavo from Crossville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Selfseeds alot, but easy to pull.
The Gold Finches went insane over the seeds.
Butterflies,hummingbirds and hummingbird moths drenched them as well.
Makes a gorgeous mounding border plant if kept trimmed.


On Jun 28, 2007, madamecp from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I'm very much a cat person, so this is a handy plant for me. My cat loves it, she always has a big stalk to lie around on and be territorial with. The bees absolutely love it, too, and are currently swarming the catnip patch en masse.

It's so incredibly hardy that I never need to do a thing for it, and it still grows so large (and so profusely) that I can give huge bundles to friends every time they visit. Heat and drought don't phaze it, even when most of the plants are suffering. My tallest plants are currently over 5' (despite dying down every Winter).

Last year I let it become overgrown, but both the tiny volunteers and the excess large plants are always easy to remove. Anything else gets harvested when it leans anywhere it isn't welcome. Best for gr... read more


On May 2, 2007, Kenotia from Bedford, TX wrote:

I orginally got this plant for my two cats - and I'm rather glad I did, as it keeps them from nibbling on my other more poisonous plants. NEVER plant this outside of a container - they spread like crazy and will pop up after you think you've got them controlled. I still have some small ones popping up in a container that used recycled dirt from a previous failed catnip seedbed. Keep a few pots of this if you've got cats - the cats will destroy a pot of small plants in no time, so you can keep a few containers growing while the other is being mauled and regularly switch them out.

This grows wild in rural Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas and goes by the name 'stinkweed' for its rather harsh smell. The flowers are pretty, but don't add any real pleasant smell to the plant. I'd o... read more


On Oct 15, 2006, Lady_fern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a plant for cat-owners. The flowers are insignificant, so it doesn't really need to be in the perennial garden.

I strongly recommend that this plant be grown in a container at least 12" across and 9" deep. Like many other mints, it really spreads by the roots and can become rather invasive. If you have 2 pots of it going, that works really well, because one pot can be inside for your cat and other outside in the sunshine. Switch them out once the indoor one starts to look like it needs sun. Our cat keeps the indoor one "mowed" down!


On Aug 8, 2006, AuntNawnee from Gary, IN wrote:

I "winter-sowed"catnip this year and I have a nice pot of catnip that delights my cats.They love to have it rubbed on their faces.One of the cats will eat it and shortly after will take a nice long nap.It doesn't get any of them frisky,but it relaxes them.I have been giving stems of it to other cat lovers and all say their cats are crazy about it.My son's girlfriend chews leaves of it once in awhile and got me started.It freshen your mouth.I am going to be saving all I can for the winter months ahead and am looking forward to growing even more next year.


On Jun 10, 2006, kyle_and_erika from Batesville, AR wrote:

Well, with 7 cats this has been a very hot topic with us - I really don't know where to begin. We received the seeds as a freebie with a tomato seed purchase - seems harmless so far, uh? ....Not the case.

The cats got ahold of this stuff and, to our eyes, became addicted. We flooded all the cat hangouts with some homemade propaganda, e,g: "catnip madness" "the devil's herb" and so on. But it didn't work.

The fact that the cats were drying, bagging and selling the catnip to other cats in the area irked us more than anything - nobody gets paid on this farm but us.

Our first instinct was to tax the catnip - charging the cats to harvest and so on - but then , low and behold, our extreme "Christian" beliefs came into play.... can you say "length... read more


On Jun 6, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Even though I don't have cats, I grow this to share with my cat loving friends. Many of them don't garden or have brown thumbs, so they are grateful to get it fresh or dried. It does spread fast if not deadheaded, but is easy enough to pull.


On Sep 22, 2005, Scorpioangel from Gold Hill, OR (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have grown this plant for years just for my cat. They seem to like fresh catnip over the store bought kind. Most of the cats I have had just tend to roll in it, but one cat, would actually eat the leaves, fresh or dried. After that watch out he went wild for a while then napped for a very long time.


On Jul 30, 2005, Mystical_1 from Beinfait,
Canada wrote:

I have a three year old plant in the garden that has attained a height of 57". Last winter the temperture dropped to -46 and wind chills at almost -60. The plant was the last to freeze off in the garden last year and one of the first to green up this spring. Our dogs are great protectors of this plant against neighbourhood cats. We harvest two ways. The first is that we harvest the buds after the butterflys and bees visit. the buds are pruned from the plant and dried for our cats, and the local humaine society. Towards fall we cut back the plant drying the leaves on the stem for tea and for less potient catnip to be mixed with buds. The growth the continues until snow cover on the plant where it seems to comback stronger the following year.


On Jul 24, 2005, JefeQuicktech from Moorhead, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

We call our nepeta cataria the Discovery Channel plant. The bees and other creatures just love it. The finches eat the seeds in the fall. I counted 20 bees on the plant this afternoon. We have it right beside a pond where we sit and enjoy the buzzing activity. Watching this plant is like watching a nature show on TV...but better.

If you are scared of bees or are deathly allergic to a sting, then I wouldn't recommend it. But we've never been stung by them and have stuck cameras nearly on top of them.

Invasive? It does spread. But the new plants are really easy to kill. It is not as invasive as my neighbor's lawn grass.

We consider it a "must have" plant for every garden.


On May 27, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I've at some time or nother planted this in my butterfly garden. I was rather impressed with it's ability to grow quite fast. The smaller butterflies also went crazy over the flowers.

What I hadn't been aware of was it's ability to spread.... like crazy. I had little catnips popping up all over the place.

It's been two years of weeding and they still come up everywhere. I never would have planted if I knew it would behave like this.

I don't have cats so I can't comment on that but I have used it to make tea and it lends it a rather interesting flavor.


On Mar 7, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have successfully grown this plant both in the garden & in containers - keeping a pot of it on the deck to grab a few sprigs now & then to toss inside to my 6 (yup 6) adopted/rescued cats. With a little honey, the steeped fresh leaves also make a nice herb tea, reputed to be very soothing when one is under the weather. I've used it alone as well as mixed with other herbs for this purpose.

I leave my container plant outside year-round, & although the original plant sometimes doesn't reappear the following spring, I always allow a few blooms to go to seed, & there have always been self-sown seedlings to take over. Whether containerized or in the ground, it is key to pinch this plant back regularly to keep it bushy & avoid that "weedy" look.


On Mar 6, 2005, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

Maybe it is because it is growing wild around here that I do not like this plant very much. It is straggly, weedy and invasive. They are too many attractive nepetas to grow than to bother with this one unless there is a cat to please.


On Feb 15, 2005, VbSparky from Dansville, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Catnip can be used for a tea for relief of cold/flu
insomnia and hyperactivity. Add honey for flavor. Also is very good for reducing fevers, the miseries of hayfever, and nausea.

Also the Oil ( nepetalactone ) from the plant can be
extracted by steam and the oil has been found out to
be 10 to 20 times better then DEET for repelling
mosquitoes. Bad side effect is that it attracts bee's.

Some cats are not affected by catnip and kittens may
not react to it either till there 6 months to a year old.


On Jun 28, 2004, TamiMcNally from Lake Placid, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have to grow mine in a hanging basket on the porch, so my six cats do not kill it. However, one of the cats figured out how to get on the porch roof and access it from there. I have now moved it farther away from the overhang.


On Jun 22, 2004, soozin from Lowell, MA wrote:

This is one plant I grow just for my 2 cats. They each get about 2-3 fresh leaves daily as a treat if they're good. I have to control access to it or my younger cat will go beserk and demolish the whole thing. To keep overzealous kitties (like mine) from pulling the plant out by the roots, try fencing it in at planting time with chicken wire. A more attractive alternative is to purchase a medium-sized ornamental bird cage to put over the plant. Enough leaves will grow up and through the cage for the kitties to chew on, but they won't be able to crush or rip out the plant. Interesting fact: very young kittens up to a certain age are not affected by catnip.


On Jun 21, 2004, ownedbycats from Southern, NH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Every year I buy this plant, it has never overwintered here. I'm not sure if that is due to the neighbors cats or competition with the catmint that was next to it. This year I noticed volunteers along the side of the raised bed it was in. I was able to transplant them into the "mint barrel" where they are doing nicely.

It is a not as tight and compact as catmint, but the foliage has a nice color and texture and the flowers are rather pretty.


On Apr 24, 2003, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Catnip is one of those herbs that grows well and makes an attractive window box plant. I paired mine with oregano and they were lovely together. Catnip also grows fine in well draining containers, so if you want to keep your cats(or your neighbor's cats) out of it, put it in a hanging basket. It will trail over nicely. I do want to mention that pregnant women should avoid drinking tea of this herb.


On Jan 24, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Catnip has proven to be even more attractive to squirrels than to cats in my yard. They become as intoxicated by it as the cats do, but the squirrels fall out of the trees when drunk, causing a lot of havoc with the pets.


On Nov 19, 2002, meindert wrote:

Catnip bloom colour is white. Species having violet/blue blooms are commonly called as Catmint.


On Aug 31, 2002, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

Catnip is a marginal perennial in our South Central Alaska coastal area. In the more severe winters, it may not survive. However, it grows well here all summer, if you can keep the cats from rolling in it. My neighbor has six cats, and all but one become intoxicated by the catnip.


On Oct 5, 2001, Sis wrote:

HARVESTING AND STORING: In late summer,strip topmost leaves from stems and spread them to dry on a screen in the shade,or hang bunches upside down. Store in tightly sealed containers.

Make a tea from the dried leaves to use as a carminative,tonic and mild sedative. Use fresh leaves in salads.

OTHER COMMON NAMES:Catnep,catmint.

SPECIAL TIPS: Grow enough to share with your cat,since the bruised foliage releases a scent that turns cats into playful kittens.


On Jan 1, 2001, gardener_mick from Wentworth, SD (Zone 4a) wrote:

Catnip is a perennial herb in zones 3-9. It gets 3 1/2' tall and should be spaced 18" apart. The flowers can be white or violet-blue. The leaves are heartshaped on square stems. Catnip forms a mound and has fragrant bluish-green foliage with masses of small flowers. The foliage can be used in teas. Plant in full sun and fertile, sandy, well-drained soil.

'Citriodora' has lemon scented leaves.