Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Nepeta cataria is aptly named for its luring effect on cats, and it proves to be just as low maintenance as our feline companions. Catnip, also known as catmint, catswort, or catwort, is a perennial herb from the mint family, Lamiaceae. It can grow up to three to four feet tall and wide with long beautiful flower spikes, and grows easily indoors and outdoors in the ground or in a container. Like most plants in the mint family, Catnip may die back in the winter with a freeze but will return ready to flourish in the Spring.
Nepeta cataria has practical uses for us bipeds, too, with some use in cooking for soups, stews, sauces, and an herbal tea that reportedly aids anxiety. Catnip can be harvested when the stems are fully grown. Cut the stems to the base of the plant, and hang them to cure until totally dried.
While the native range of Nepeta cataria is in southern and eastern Europe and Asia, it widely naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America. Its well-traveled propagation is a true sign of its plant hardiness, although overly wet soils and too much sun can be harmful to the plant.