Pruning catmint: when & how

Lea
Lea
Lea
Lea

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 quite frugal, but requires pruning from time to time. Here, you will learn what to consider when pruning catmint.

A person pruning catmint
Pruning catnip guarantees beautiful flowers [Photo: Jana Loesch/ Shutterstock.com]

Proper care of catmint (Nepeta) includes not only proper watering and fertilising, but also pruning. In order for your catmint to have the best conditions for healthy growth and beautiful flowers, you should know what to look for when pruning. In this article, you will learn why you should prune your catnip, when the perfect time to do it is, and how to go about it.

Why should you prune catmint?

Catnip belongs to the labiates family (Lamiaceae) and usually grows as a herbaceous perennial. Under optimal conditions, it can grow 20 to 90 centimetres in height. In gardens, it is often used as a bed edging, in perennial beds or in herb boxes or scented beds. In general, catmint is considered quite unpretentious and easy to care for. Still, there are some instances when pruning catmint may be necessary.

You should prune catnip for the following reasons:

  • Prolonging blooming
  • Health preservation
  • Use as a herb or medicinal plant
  • Preventing spread
  • Propagation

Let us tell you when it is time for these catmint pruning measures and how best to manage pruning.

When to prune catmint

Depending on what you want to achieve by cutting your catmint, there are different cutting times for the individual measures. If you want to extend the blooming period of your catnip, you should cut it back after the main blooming period. By July, flowering is usually complete and it is time for pruning. If your catmint is affected by disease or pests, you should cut off and remove any affected parts of the plant immediately and at any time. If you want to use the leaves and flowers of your catnip as a medicinal plant or herb, the right time to cut it is in the summer. If you want to prevent and contain the spread of your catmint, the right time to prune it is in the spring between February and March.

Catmint covered in snow
Never cut back catmint in autumn, as it still needs all its plant parts in winter [Photo: Katarzyna Mazurowska/ Shutterstock.com]

Tip: Pruning the plant in the autumn will not be rewarded, be sure to wait until spring. After all, if catmint is cut back in autumn, it unnecessarily weakens it before the cold season.

To propagate catnip, you can cut off individual shoots between April and July.

Pruning catmint, summary:

  • Prolongation of flowering: After the main flowering period in July
  • Preservation of health: At any time in the event of disease or pest infestation
  • For use as a medicinal and aromatic plant: In summer
  • Preventing spreading: In the spring between February and March
  • To propagate: Between April and July

How and how much to prune

Not only the optimal time is important when cutting the catnip, but also the right procedure. Depending on your intention you should proceed in a variety of ways. Below, you’ll find instructions on the individual options for pruning catmint.

Pruning catmint to prolong flowering

If you want to enjoy the lush blooms of catnip for as long as possible, you can encourage it to bloom longer by pruning. To do this, cut all the shoots of the plant with clean and sharp secateurs to just above the ground. Alternatively, you can cut off all the flowerheads to just above the first leaf. With this measure, your catmint will usually continue to bloom into autumn.
It may also be wise to give your catmint another boost of fresh nutrients after pruning. To do this, you can apply nettle manure or a fertiliser with slow-release effects – for example, our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food – directly after pruning.

Plantura All Purpose Plant Food
Plantura All Purpose Plant Food

With a long-lasting effect, for healthy soil, child & pet friendly

Procedures for cutting back catnip at a glance:

  • Use clean and sharp pruning shears
  • Shorten all shoots to just above the ground
  • Or shorten all flowerheads to above the first leaf
  • If necessary, re-fertilise with nettle liquid manure or a fertiliser with slow-release effect

Tip: By doing this, however, self-seeding of catmint is also prevented. If you intend for your catnip to continue to grow in the garden by spreading and seeding itself, then you might prefer to refrain from pruning.

Pruning catmint in the event of disease

Catnip is sometimes attacked by powdery mildew. In such a case, it helps to remove the affected parts of the plant and the flowerheads. Thus, the plant no longer puts energy into developing flowers, but can fully take care of the fight against the fungus.

Pruning catmint for use in the kitchen

Catmint is versatile as a medicinal and aromatic plant. To use the flowers and leaves of this special mint variety, you can cut off whole stems of the plant with sharp scissors. These can then be used fresh or dried. Or you can harvest individual leaves or flowers to use fresh.

Pruning catnip to prevent its spread

In order to prevent the prolific catmint from taking over your whole garden, radical pruning is sometimes necessary. To do this, select a frost-free day and cut the whole plant back to just above the ground with sharp pruning shears.

Thriving catmint plants flowering
Pruning nepeta prevents it from spreading and taking over your garden [Photo: islavicek/ Shutterstock.com]

Pruning catmint for propagation

If you want to propagate your catnip yourself, the simple method of propagation by cuttings is an option. For this, be sure to take the cuttings with clean, sharp scissors. Select a healthy, young shoot of catmint and cut it to about 15 centimetres in length. Remove the upper leaves. Then you can put the cutting in substrate and water it.
Alternatively, of course, you can propagate catmint by division or – the easiest option – self-seeding.

If you want to learn even more interesting facts about catmint, be sure to read on here. For more information on pruning mint, click here.

Subscribe to the Plantura newsletter