Growing Catmint (Nepeta): Pick the Best and Enjoy the Show

Walker's Low Catmint (Nepeta) with Alba Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber)

Walker's Low Catmint (Nepeta) with Alba Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber).

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 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.

Delosperma dyeri Red Mountain Flame Nepeta

Delosperma dyeri Red Mountain Flame and Nepeta faassenii 'Select Blue'.
  • Nepeta faassenii 'Select Blue' - 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 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.
  • Nepeta 'Walker's Low'- 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.
Salvia 'Caradonna' with Nepeta Walker's Low

Salvia 'Caradonna' with Nepeta Walker's Low

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.

Nepeta | Catmint >> View All

  • Select Blue Catmint Nepeta faassenii Select Blue

    Starting at $7.99

    Sale: $6.39

    Per Plant - 2.5/5" deep pot

  • Walker's Low Catmint Nepeta Walker's Low

    Starting at $9.99

    Sale: $7.99

    Per Plant - 5" deep pot


Text by David Salman.

© All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republishing an entire High Country Gardens blog post or article is prohibited without permission. Please feel free to share a short excerpt with a link back to the article on social media websites, such as Facebook and Pinterest.

You are using an out-of-date browser. You will still be able to shop HighCountryGardens.com, but some functionality may not work unless you update to a modern browser. Update My Browser

×

Please wait...

Item added to your cart

has been added to your cart.