Planting catmint: when, where & how?


Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

Catmint is not only popular among pets. Let us reveal what you need to know about planting catmint in the garden or as a houseplant.

Catmint flowers
It is very popular to plant catmint in a flowerbed

Catmint (Nepeta) is a real wonder herb. It has a very special effect on cats, and people can use the fragrant plant as a medicinal herb or to add a splash of colour to a perennial bed. With a few tips and tricks, catmint can also make its way into your garden. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the right location, the best time for planting and the procedure for planting catmint.

Catmint is versatile: it makes a wonderful addition to a perennial bed in the garden. In a fragrant bed, it contributes to a wonderful aroma in the garden with its special summer fragrance. In the home, it can be kept as a houseplant, but it also does well on the balcony in a balcony box and will delight visitors such as bees and other insects in city centres. It was valued as a medicinal plant and herb as far back as the Middle Ages, and cat lovers are doing their furry housemates a big favour by growing this special mint variety in their homes. After purchasing your catmint, the next step is planting it. However, in order to enjoy your plant for as long as possible, there are a few points to keep in mind when planting.

When to plant catmint

The time to plant depends on whether you self-seed your catmint, divide it, or plant out the plant as a purchased potted plant.

The ideal time to sow catmint is in the spring, no earlier than mid-March. By the end of April, you should have sown your seeds outdoors, otherwise the likelihood of it starting to bloom in the same year will become less and less likely. Another way to propagate catmint is by division. To do this, a sample from the garden is divided with a spade and planted in a new place. The best time for this is between April and June. If you have decided to buy pre-grown catnip in a pot, planting is possible almost all year around. You should only avoid planting catmint outdoors in the winter months. The ideal time is between the end of April and mid-May.

Bee sitting on catmint
The best time to plant catmint is between the end of April and mid-May [Photo: Sleepyhobbit/]

Summary: Planting catmint

  • Sow from mid-March to late April
  • Divide from April to June
  • Plant pre-grown catmint plants from spring to autumn, ideally between the end of April and mid-May

Where to plant catmint?

Catnip likes an especially sunny and bright location. On the other hand, it will not feel comfortable at all in the shade. Generally speaking, a rough distinction can be made among the variety of Nepeta species, namely between grey-leaved and green-leaved species. Grey-leaved catmint species usually prefer dry, sandy soil with as much sun as possible. Green-leaved catmint species prefer a fresh to moist location, they usually do not mind a little more shade either.

Tip: Catmint gets along especially well with roses (Rosa). But it also gets along well with other perennials. Delphinium (Delphinium) or Indian nettle (Monarda) are also good neighbours for your plant.

Catmint especially likes loose and permeable soil. It should also be rich in nutrients – sufficient supply of nitrogen is important. Soils can be sandy to loamy and should ideally have a pH value of 6.5. Catmint copes better with dryness than with conditions that are too humid. Waterlogging can because suffocation of the roots and lead to rot – this must be avoided at all costs.

Cat next to catmint
Cats love catmint grown in the garden [Photo: Linda George/]

Tip: Cats have an almost magical attraction to catmint. You should be aware of this. Therefore, it is best to choose a location where cats are desired.

Summary: Growing conditions for catnip

  • Grey catmint: Dry, sunny and sandy location
  • Green-leaved species: Fresh to moist location, sunny to partial shade
  • Loose and permeable soil with a ph value around 6.5
  • Nutrient-rich soil that is sandy to loamy in texture and not too moist

Planting catmint in the garden

Once you have found the ideal location for your catmint, it is time to plant. The first step in this process is to put the catnip in a bucket of water so that the root ball can soak it up.
The next step is to prepare the bed by loosening the soil well, removing stones, roots and weeds and incorporating nutrients. This can be in the form of compost or organic slow-release fertiliser. You can also use a soil activator to loosen the soil and increase humus content.

Now use a spade to dig planting holes 30 centimetres away from the nearest plant. If you want to achieve complete ground cover with several plants, it is recommended to place a maximum of ten plants per square metre. The planting holes should only be as deep as the plant is in the pot. The top of the root ball should be just barely below the surface of the soil. Now place the plant in the planting hole. You should then fill the planting hole with the excavated soil and water the catmint well.

Catmint on the ground
It is best to leave 30 cm between each catmint plant so they have enough space to grow [Photo: islavicek/]

Instructions for repotting catmint:

  • Put the plant in a bucket with water
  • Weed and loosen soil well at the planting site
  • Fertilise soil with compost or organic, slow release fertiliser
  • Dig the planting hole
  • Planting distance: 30cm
  • Insert plant and fill the hole with soil
  • Water well

Planting catmint in a pot

If you want to keep your cat entertained indoors as well, you can also plant catmint in a pot or tub as a houseplant. To do this, you only need a sufficiently large planter, which should have a drainage hole. You can ensure that water can drain well and prevent waterlogging with this drainage hole and a saucer. A drainage layer in the pot is also important for this. This can be made of pebbles or shards of clay, for example, and helps water to drain away. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, for example, is particularly suitable for planting catnip in a pot. You should still enrich the substrate with nutrients for catnip. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food with long-term effect is suitable for this purpose and sufficiently provides the catnip with the right nutrients. Next, fill the pot one-third with the substrate and place the plant in the centre of it. Then fill the pot with the substrate, water the plant and remove any excess water from the saucer.

Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Watering potted catmint:

  • Choose a sufficiently large planter with a drainage hole
  • Create a drainage layer
  • Enrich substrate with a fertiliser with organic slow-release effects
  • Fill one third of the planter with substrate
  • Place the plant in the centre of the new pot
  • Fill the pot with substrate
  • Water and remove excess water
Catmint in a pot
Catmint also looks great as a pot plant [Photo: Stephen Orsillo/]

Catmint not only does well as a houseplant, but also in a box on the balcony. It attracts bees with its many flowers and is a beautiful addition to your balcony garden.

Tip: Good neighbours for catnip in a balcony box include oregano (Origanum), thyme (Thymus) or lavender (Lavandula). On the other hand, all moisture-loving herbs such as parsley (Petroselinum), lovage (Levisticum), and chives (Allium) are unsuitable.

Care after planting

Even after planting, catmint relies on your attention and care. Of course, this primarily includes watering, fertilising and pruning. Catnip should be watered regularly, especially when grown in a pot. However, do not overdo it in the process. After all, catnip copes much better with short-term drought than with prolonged wetness. Therefore, always allow the surface of the soil or substrate in the pot to dry thoroughly before watering again. One around of fertilisation with nitrogen-rich fertiliser in spring is enough for the whole year. Suitable fertilisers for this purpose are compost, bone meal or fertilisers with slow-release effects such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. Pruning is another measure of care for catmint. If you cut your plant back to just above ground level immediately after flowering, you increase the chances of a second bloom in the same year.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

You can read more about how to properly prune your catmint in our dedicated article on the topic, here.