Growing Nepeta (Catmint): Pick The Best & Enjoy The Show

Walker's Low Nepeta (Catmint) with White Valerian (Centranthus)Walker's Low Nepeta (Catmint) with White Valerian (Centranthus)
Walker's Low Nepeta (Catmint) with White Valerian (Centranthus)

By David Salman

The Catmints (Nepeta) are some of our best garden perennials, as they are long lived, very easy-to-grow, resistant to browsing animals (deer and rabbits), and they feature a profusion of color in various shades of blue. And yes, as the name suggests, cats often find them irresistible.*

Mostly perennial, this genus is widespread across the Old World parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Many species are excellent in the xeric (low water) garden, and they grow well in a wide range of soil types, including dry clay. They grow well with at least a half day of sun, but flower best in full sun. And for pollinators, especially honeybees, catmints are an excellent source of nectar. I often joke in my presentations that "if you can't grow catmint, you should take up another hobby." They are a great beginner's perennial.

Choose the Best Nepeta (Catmint) Varieties

There are several hundred species of Nepeta and many additional selections (cultivars) that had been selected for improved garden performance. But I recommend caution when purchasing catmint plants for your yard. I strongly recommend planting only sterile hybrids and avoiding any Nepeta that are propagated from seed. The seed-grown catmints can be aggressively weedy, spreading themselves throughout the garden and crowding out neighboring perennials.

I've experimented with numerous species and selections of Nepeta in my gardens over many years. And based on my experiences I can enthusiastically recommend two outstanding, sterile (no seeds), long-blooming varieties.

  • Select Blue Nepeta - a selection I made back in the early 1990's from a patch of plants I found in an office park landscape, this low growing, non-spreading plant has beautiful lavender-blue flowers. In early summer after the first flush of flowers have faded, Shear off the flower spikes just above the foliage to get the plants to re-bloom again later in the summer.
  • Walker's Low Nepeta - named after an English castle and not for its size, this cultivar has showy deep blue flowers on tall flower spikes. 'Walker's Low' grows as a neat, non-suckering, well-behaved plant and blooms for many months from late spring into mid-summer. Deadheading (shearing off the faded flower spikes just above the foliage) will encourage stronger re-blooming.

Nepeta (Catmint (Companion Plants)

Catmint's blue flowers mix beautifully with all the other flower colors. And they thrive in the same growing conditions of these perennials:

*Nepeta cataria and a few other Nepeta species are the "drug" of choice for house cats. They contain nepetalactone which binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria.

Shop For Nepeta (Catmints)

  1. Nepeta faassenii Select Blue

    Nepeta 'Select Blue' (Select Blue Catmint) is a fantastic xeric perennial with dramatic lavender-blue flowers and handsome gray-green foliage. A recurrent bloomer, the first flush of...

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    Select Blue Nepeta Select Blue Catmint Nepeta faassenii Select Blue
    As low as $9.99 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Nepeta 'Select Blue' (Select Blue Catmint) is a fantastic xeric perennial with dramatic lavender-blue flowers and handsome gray-green foliage. A recurrent bloomer, the first flush of flowers comes in late spring, and again later in summer. A long-lived, easily grown perennial, this is an excellent plant for beginners.
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  2. White Cloud Calamintha, Calamintha nepeta glandulosa 'White Cloud', White Cloud Calamint, Photo Courtesy of Northcreek Nursery

    ‘White Cloud’ Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta glandulosa) fills the late spring garden with clouds of delicate, nectar-rich, white flowers. Flowering until frost bites, ‘White Cl...

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    White Cloud Calamintha White Cloud Lesser Calamint Calamintha nepeta glandulosa White Cloud
    Sale Price I Save 20%
    $10.99 Sale $8.79
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    ‘White Cloud’ Calamintha (Calamintha nepeta glandulosa) fills the late spring garden with clouds of delicate, nectar-rich, white flowers. Flowering until frost bites, ‘White Cloud’ is a reliable bloomer with lovely fragrant foliage reminiscent of oregano. It will attract pollinators, and bees love it. Plant ‘White Cloud’ along beds where you can enjoy its beauty and fragrance as you walk by. Over time, it will also spread gently to form a groundcover.
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  3. Walker's Deep Blue Catmint (Nepeta)

    Walker's Deep Blue Catmint (Nepeta) is just like 'Walker's Low'--long blooming and easily grown--but with noticeably darker blue flowers....

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    Walker's Deep Blue Nepeta Walker's Deep Blue Catmint Nepeta Walker's Deep Blue
    Sale Price I Save 20%
    $9.99 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Walker's Deep Blue Catmint (Nepeta) is just like 'Walker's Low'--long blooming and easily grown--but with noticeably darker blue flowers.
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  4. Nepeta Walker's Low, Walker's Low Catmint

    Nepeta Walker's Low (Walker's Low Catmint) is a robust variety with dark lavender-blue flowers in late spring and aromatic gray-green foliage. Thriving in harsh conditions, this dur...

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    Walker's Low Nepeta Walker's Low Catmint Nepeta Walker's Low
    As low as $9.99 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Nepeta Walker's Low (Walker's Low Catmint) is a robust variety with dark lavender-blue flowers in late spring and aromatic gray-green foliage. Thriving in harsh conditions, this durable, rabbit and deer resistant perennial plant is an indispensable for use in xeriscapes. Drought resistant/drought tolerant perennial plant (xeric).
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