A colorful perennial, catmint (a.k.a. Nepeta) makes a great addition to your garden

Your Guide to Catmint (Nepeta), the Cool, Refreshing Perennial
Photo by Charles Mann
Nepeta faassenii (Catmint)


Planted at the edge of a path or border, perennial catmints (Nepeta) provide a refreshing haze of cool color over a long period, beginning in midspring. Loose spikes of small (1/4 to ½), clustered blossoms cover billowy plants that are usually broader than tall; oval, slightly rough-textured, typically grayish leaves grow ¾ to 1½ inches long. Many of the catmints are as attractive to felines as catnip (Nepeta cataria); susceptible cats will roll frenziedly on the plants and nibble the foliage. Young catmint plants usually need protection until they’re large and tough enough to withstand such ardent attentions.

How to Plant

Tuck Nepeta plants into your garden anytime from spring until fall. To propagate, divide clumps in early spring or take stem cuttings in spring or summer. You also may find new plants from stems that self-layer where they touch the soil; dig and transplant these as needed.

Growing Conditions

All catmint plants are easy to grow, needing only well-drained soil and a warm, sunny location (or a lightly shaded spot, where summers are hot). They appreciate moderate water but are often drought-tolerant once established.

Pruning Tips & Plant Care

To keep catmint flowers more compact and encourage repeat bloom later in summer, shear off spent flowering stems.

Popular Varieties

Most widely available is Nepeta x faassenii. It forms a silver gray-green mound about 2 feet wide and reaches 1 to 2 feet high in flower. The basic form bears loose spikes of soft lavender-blue blossoms. Named selections include ‘Porcelain’, a 1½-foot plant with soft blue blossoms and blue-gray leaves, and white-flowered ‘Snowflake’. ‘Dropmore’, a 2-foot plant with longer spikes of rich blue flowers may be sold Nepeta x faassenii, but is probably a hybrid. ‘Six Hills Giant’, 2 to 3 feet high and 3 feet wide, is another probable Nepeta x faassenii hybrid and looks like a larger version of it.
Husky Nepeta grandiflora is an open, upright plant 2½ to 3 feet high and about 1½ feet wide. It has violet-blue flowers. Its cultivar ‘Brandean’ bears lavender-blue blossoms emerging from purple calyxes; ‘Dawn to Dusk’ has lilac-pink blossoms and purple calyxes. In both, the calyxes persist after flowers have finished. Siberian catmint, Nepeta siberica, is another upright plant of about the same size as Nepeta grandiflora, but its rich violet-blue blossoms are larger and bloom later, appearing in summer. ‘Souvenir d’André Chadron’ (Blue Beauty) appears to be a Nepeta sibirica hybrid and has the same plant size and flower color, but it blooms over a longer period.

Catmint Flower Colors

Catmints bloom in shades of lilac, violet, blue, white, and pink.