Catnip is not just for cats, but whether you want it for yourself or your cat, it's easy to grow. Here's how.
If you've never seen a cat drooling, curling or otherwise in ecstasy from getting into a catnip plant, you've missed something! You don't have to be a cat lover to enjoy catnip, though - you can grow and enjoy it yourself. No, I don't mean to get high on it like a cat, but you can enjoy it as catnip tea.
Catnip tea has been used throughout the years as a soothing, mild sedative which relaxes the muscles and has some antibacterial and antifungal properties. It's used in respiratory illnesses and acts as a decongestant, so it's just the thing to treat a cold.
Catnip is an attractive plant which will grow to about three feet tall with bluish or white flowers, so it makes a good stand-alone accent plant as well as a tall background for showier flowers. Like all mints, it spreads rapidly, so be careful of where you put it or keep it in a container. Even then, roots will escape through drainage holes or, if allowed, catnip will droop over the edge of the container and take root. A careful eye or a few cats will help keep it contained.
If you'd like to grow catnip from seed, you'll need potting soil, pots, a tray or something to put the pots on, and some plastic wrap.
Fill the pots and dampen the soil, then press three or four catnip seeds into it. Cover lightly with more potting soil. When the pots are ready, put them on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. Put them in a warm place or put a heating pad set on low under them.
Make sure the plastic wrap is well sealed to keep the soil from drying out. If it does, provide water by putting it in the tray and allowing the soil to absorb it. If the soil is too dry for too long, the seeds won't grow.
After the seeds have begun to grow, remove the plastic wrap and move the catnip plants to a sunny windowsill, but don't let them get overheated and be sure to keep them watered.
In about eight weeks they will grow big enough to be transplanted outdoors. If there are neighborhood cats or strays, you will need to protect the young catnip plants until they grow big enough to stand the loss of a few (or more) sprigs. If you intend to make catnip tea from the plants, you may want to grow them behind a closely woven fence to keep stray cats away.
You can grow enough to keep several cats happy over the winter from a couple of catnip plants, but don't forget to save dry enough leaves for yourself for catnip tea!