If you are one of those people that like to grow their own herbs, you may want to consider growing catnip plant. This is a very easy plant to care for, which is perfect for those that live in regions where it doesn’t get as much sunlight as they would prefer.
The plant itself does not need much attention. It will grow well with light shade, but you do not have to prune it very often. When the leaves start to wilt, all you have to do is take a nice snip of it, and your indoor garden will have a tasty treat!
You can choose whether to buy the plant or grow it yourself. If you are looking to save money, you can simply purchase the plant from a local nursery and then start growing it yourself.
However, if you feel that you are talented enough at gardening, then you can purchase the seeds and try to growing it. If you follow these simple steps, you will find that your plants will thrive and provide you with a delightful treat.
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The History of Catnip
The history of Catnip dates back to around two thousand years in the Mediterranean area. Early writings from around this time period indicate that people used the flower as a medication for various ailments such as stomach aches, colds, cough, and headaches.
By rubbing or licking sweet catnip flowers, it was said to produce a pleasant aerosol which relieved the pain and helped with respiratory problems.This became the popular method of using the aromatic plant that was soon replaced by Aloe Vera, because it also had similar healing properties. Catnip’s medicinal uses seems to have faded away over time as more efficient herbal remedies became available.
Medicinal Uses of Catnip
Medicinal uses of catnip can be found throughout history, with much documentation supporting its efficacy as an energy tonic, calming agent, and stimulant for the body. The therapeutic properties attributed to the leaf of catnip date back to Ancient Egypt, where it was used as food for patients with digestive problems.
The leaves were chewed as a strong, soothing tea that would soothe the stomach and intestines and promote healing in the body. In North America, the most common use of the herb is in the preparation of tea.
However, there are many other medicinal uses for catnip as well, including treating skin diseases, a treatment for hair loss, as an anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and as a powerful diuretic.
There are even investigations into its ability to treat epilepsy. All of these medicinal uses make the herb a favorite among holistic herb enthusiasts who believe that the plant has many positive healing powers.
Germinating Catnip Seeds
When growing catnip from seed, the best time to sow seeds indoors is in February or March, and transplant or direct sow is in April or May. You can either start germination indoors, or you can directly sow your seeds in your garden.
Just place a few seeds in each spot about 1/16th deep. Seeds should be planted 12″ inches apart. The soil needs to be at a fairly warm temperature of 70 – 80 degrees F, in order for them to germinate. Lemongrass requires sunlight to germinate.
If you would like to start them indoors, then the best way to germinate your seeds, is by using a seed starter tray, and I like to combine this with a high quality seedling mix. Both these products are available on Amazon.
Catnip seeds will germinate in approximately 10 to 20 days. Seedlings will harden off and will be ready to plant after 4 weeks, and it can be planted outdoors in early-spring.
You will want to keep the seedlings moist by misting them with water in a spray bottle daily.
Seedlings require about two weeks to mature. They may be divided and replanted each year and then placed in the garden for the entire growing season.
Selecting a Pot or Planter
Whenever you grow Catnip, use a planter or pot that has holes in the bottom for drainage. What you must realize is that smaller pots do not give the Catnip as much room to spread out, and get the nutrients that they need.
When selecting the size of your pot, I would recommend using a pot that is a minimum of 10″ – 12″ inches in diameter. This will give your plant more than enough room, so that the roots can fully expand.
Soil for catnip is easily available from local nurseries or online from Amazon, and it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other types of gardening supplies. Before you begin planting your catnip herb garden, make sure that the soil is completely weed-free and well draining.
This will be especially important if you are planning to plant the catnip herb in an area that tends to get a lot of traffic, since it will need to withstand a lot more water than other plants. Another important factor is the pH level of the soil if it’s too alkaline, catnip may not grow well, while if it’s too acidic it may actually hinder growth. A pH level of 6.1 – 7.8 is optimal.
One of the biggest challenges when growing a plant from seed or in a container is watering. Watering your plant too much can make it susceptible to diseases and insect infestation.
So, the first recommendation would be to water your plants only when the soil surface feels dry. If the soil surface feels moist, simply water a little bit less. Don’t over water your plants as this can also do damage.
So, the correct pH and nutrient level for your Catnip plants are just a few of the many factors that need to be considered when determining the correct soil mixture for your plant. Adding a small amount of fertilizer is recommended if you are just starting out with your new plant.
Doing this will ensure that your plant has all the nutrients it needs to grow strong. By increasing the amount of nutrients received your plant will have a better chance of reaching its full potential.
When choosing the location where you will be growing the catnip, you will want to be sure to get at least six hours of direct sunlight most days.
The time of year that you plant it will have a great impact on its eventual size. As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that you plant it indoor from early spring to late summer.
This will give it the required time to develop and come into its full bloom. It is also a good idea to stake your plant and keep it in an area that receives indirect but strong sunlight throughout the day.
One of the easiest, and least time consuming, ways to prune your catnip plants is to cut them back. Cutting back catnip plants tends to be easier for new gardeners because it is less confusing. In the case of catnip flowers, there are two main types of growth.
The first is called the flowering growth and the second is known as the non-flowering growth. If you wish to cut back the non-flowering growth, simply cut at the stalk where the petals will start to grow.
To harvest your catnip just cut off the entire plant from the base, you will then want to hang it upside down, in a well-ventilated dry, dark area such as a basement or cold room.
If you are looking for a faster more efficient method, the best way to dry it is using a drying rack. This will allow the wilted leaves to dry quickly and efficiently.
Companion Herb Plants
Some common culinary uses for catnip are in the creation of herbal tea, infused oils and vinegars, and catnip-flavored confections. Catnip tea has a unique flavor that some find delicious. It can be used both as an additive to baked goods and in hot tea drinks. Often, when catnip is used in tea, the leaves are steeped for a few minutes and then the flavors are extracted with hot water.
This creates a soothing floral-flavored beverage. In the making of various sauces and dressings, the leaves are often added as an ingredient. The leaves can be combined with a variety of other ingredients to make a wide-range of culinary uses for catnip. They may be added to tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, or to marinades and salads.