If you wish to grow a perennial in your garden or yard that is absolutely beautiful, long blooming, tolerant towards all types of environmental threats and is also easy to grow, look no further than Nepeta, or better known by its common name, Catmint.
Catmint (Nepeta mussinii) is an aromatic perennial herb that is best known for its clusters of lavender blue flowers, often with subtle touches of the gorgeous violet color. These flowers grow amid lush gray-green foliage which is characterized by plush leaves that have quite a delicate and lacy appearance.
This plant variety is a member of the mint family and is also often referred to as catnip (Nepeta cataria), one of its other common names. Although catnip and catmint are basically the same plant and have great many characteristics and features in common, many people still wonder if there is any difference between the two. The only disparity found to-date is that Catmint has a far greater and better ornamental value in any garden than Catnip.
A mature catmint plant reaches 24 inches in height and 2 feet wide which is its mature size on average. The plant thrives best either in full sun or partial shade and most of its varieties bloom best in early summer or late spring.
Catmint plants are an excellent choice for rock gardens as well as cottage gardens because of their sprawling growth habits and also their flower spikes and flush of blooms that look so breathtakingly beautiful.
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Why Catmint Belongs To Your Garden
If you are still wondering why you should grow catmint flowers in your garden, you must be made aware of why it is an absolute must-have and must-grow perennial.
You would be surprised to know that Catmint or Nepeta flowers bloom twice a year which is amazing because not many perennial plants are able to do that, especially in the northern part of the world. They also grow earlier and more rapidly than a variety of other summer perennials like Salvia, for example.
Another important reason is that these flowers sport a very unique and aesthetically pleasing combination of colors which is utterly soothing to the eyes. If anything, you could look at the flowers for as long you want and end up feeling refreshed and lively.
Even if you don’t own a big garden where you could plant your favorite trees and flowers, you have nothing to worry about because catmint grows equally well in pots, baskets and containers. And lucky for you, they look as beautiful in those containers as they normally do in an open outdoor space.
Different Varieties of Catmint Flowers
Catmint plant has several different varieties and cultivars, each of which has unique features and uses. Most of them are grown as soon as the spring season arrives in all its glory by most people in their gardens as well as in different pots and containers.
These are six of the most commonly and popularly grown types of catmint flowers and interestingly, all except one share almost the same kind of gorgeous blue flowers that perfectly strike against the gray-grey foliage.
Known for its luscious cinnamon-like smell, gorgeous blue-green leaves and red stems, Siberian Catmint (Nepeta sibirica) is an upright plant that grows up to almost 4 feet (8 inches) in height. In terms of width, it spreads about 24 inches. It is best described as a dense herbaceous perennial that grows with a mounded form.
This catmint flower blooms in early spring and keeps blooming till the mid of the season. However, as soon as the winter season arrives, the plant dies back into the ground. It is typically grown as a fragrant ornamental and some even use it as an edible flower.
Siberian catmint is largely characterized by its spikes of beautiful royal blue flowers that are lightly-scented and sport some subtle lavender tones that are very evident amid the lush green foliage. They grow most effectively and successfully when they are planted together in the form of a group. It produces small, point leaves that are as fragrant as the flowers and they remain a greenish-gray color throughout the entire blooming period.
The one thing that sets the Siberian catmint apart from numerous other garden plants is its relatively fine texture; however, the fruit of this plant doesn’t have any ornamental significance and its foliage is also less refined as compared to the other catmint varieties.
It prefers growing in full sun or partial shade conditions and is incredibly drought-tolerant. It also requires occasional upkeep and maintenance in order for it to grow successfully and attain full height. Although Siberian catmint is really attractive to butterflies, bees and birds, it doesn’t really appeal to cats as much and is also deer-resistant.
If you are looking to grow Siberian catmint, you must know that is best recommended for landscape applications such as container panting, mass planting, general garden use and as groundcover. The plant is a great choice for gardens, however, due to its amazing height; it is best for planting in outdoor container and pots. However, in the latter case, you must keep in mind that they need to be watered much more frequently than they would when growing in a garden or yard.
This is a short-stalked catmint plant type and is quite different from the other edging, low catmint varieties. It features an upright mound of glossy and bushy green leaves that offer a breathtaking contrast against the violet blue flowers that grow in cute, little clusters.
Japanese Catmint (Nepeta subsessilis) has a more upright and compact growing habits as compared to its other varieties. It is native to some excessively damp areas of Japan and has a great quality of being able to be tolerant to high moisture levels, unlike several other catmint species.
This plant grows to an average height of 18-23 inches and has a spread of 1.00-1.50 feet. Its blooming period begins during the month of May and lasts all the way till September. The plant produces showy spikes of beautiful deep violet blue flowers that are bell-shaped and have maroon spots all over them. The flowers grow in tubular clusters throughout the summer season and particularly known for being fairly large in size as compared to the flowers of the other catmint varieties.
This herby perennial plant grows best under full sun or partial shade and requires the kind of soil that is consistently moist. One important thing to keep in mind when growing Japanese catmint is that you should never let them dry out between their watering periods.
The foliage of this catmint type is known to be aromatic and toothed and is usually marked by leafy stems. It is also drought tolerant, but not as much as the other catmint species and varieties. Due to its unique aroma and such a bright combination of flowers and foliage, Japanese catmint greatly attracts bees and other similar insects, and also to cats to some extent, however, too much foliage can result in an empty stomach for them.
The plant is best grown in pots or containers, as well as at the front of a mixed border or in the form of a low-growing hedge. In order to ensure that they bloom well and produce a bushy growth, the need to be pruned back after the flowering period and also be divided into groups in order to prevent congested clumps.
The Yellow catmint (Nepeta govaniana) variety is native to the Himalayas and is best known to be a graceful, upright plant. It has well-branched, slender and long stems that produce soft green flowers and gorgeous creamy yellow flowers.
It is a sticky herbaceous perennial that is popular for its height and grows up to almost 4 feet in height on an average basis. It has quite a slim bottom that is beautifully curved and gives the plant quite an elegant touch. Unlike the other catmint varieties, this plant thrives in cool and moist places that are not soggy or too wet.
Yellow catmint grows to an average height of 120 cm and has a spread of 30 cm wide. Its flowers bloom in great abundance during the months of July, August and September and have quite a clump-forming growth habitat. Like other catmint varieties, this type also largely attracts bees and butterflies and is best grown out in the yard or garden as well as in pots and baskets.
Yellow catmint is often described as a very different kind of plant because of its quite distinctive upright and erect growing habit as well the unique color of its flowers. The flowers grow on loose spikes and sport a soft yellow color with a darker yellow colored lip. The yellowness offers a striking contrast against pale apple green foliage that looks absolutely stunning in outdoor spaces. The foliage produces a great minty aroma that is very distinctive and greatly appeals to all the birds and insects.
When growing yellow catmint, it is essential to remember that it is difficult to grow them in very cold and harsh winter conditions and prefers moist, cool soil at all times that doesn’t dry out.
Commonly found in European gardens, Greek Catmint (Nepeta parnassica) is a huge, robust and tall plant that grows to an average height of 6 feet which is almost 48 inches. It spreads over 36 inches in width with a bloom size of 1”-2”.
Greek catmint produces thick strong stems with spikes of beautiful purple blue flowers that bloom best during summer and autumn. Due to its incredible height, this catmint variety looks stunning at the back of a hot border or the corner of your garden which is likely to impress anyone who past your garden.
It is a perennial plant that grows to its full height under full sun and prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline types of soil for growing. Its leaves are amazingly fragrant and sport heart shape with a subtle combination of green-gray color. The flowers are showy and scented and they often grow in a variety of different colors such as lavender pink and blue. The blooming period of the flowers begins sometime during mid-summer and lasts almost till the early fall season.
Greek Catmint has originated from the mountains of Albania and Greece which is one of the reasons why this species is so strong, sturdy and perfect tolerant towards heat, drought and tough soils. When growing this plant, it is important that you sow the seeds into good soil-based compost and then cover the seeds immediately with compost or fine grit in order to give them a full and proper season of growth.
Six Hills Giant Catmint
This has to be one of the most popular catmint varieties and is also one of the tallest growing Nepetas. It is quite a showy long-blooming perennial herb mainly for its huge size and the many flowers that it produces.
Six Hills Giant (Nepeta x faassenii) is the hardiest known Nepeta and a herbaceous perennial that produces stems which are 2-3 feet long, but the plant has an arching habit or form that brings down its great height to almost 24 inches.
It is quite a low maintenance plant and since it is a drought-tolerant groundcover, which is the only kind of summer care that it really needs. This plant is greatly beneficial for pollinators and also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It prefers a dry type of soil for growing that is not particularly fertile.
Like a few other catmint species, Six Hills Giant is an incredible performer that mainly stems from its great versatility. The fact that it is so versatile means that it can be used in many different situations for a variety of purposes including in gravel gardens, under planting roses, along path, spilling along walls, wildlife gardens, cottage gardens and also in front of the perennial border.
The plant thrives best in full sun or partially shaded conditions and prefers soils that are well drained and dry to medium on average. The flowers of this plant are a stunning lavender-violet color and they are shaped like small trumpets. It is also highly noted for its aromatic greenish-gray foliage that looks splendid against the richly colored flowers.
Walkers’ Low Catmint
This catmint species is native to Turkey, Caucasus, and Northern Iraq. Walker’s Low (Nepeta racemosa) is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows almost 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It is believed to be an incredibly gifted plant that is most popularly grown as an ornamental. It was first introduced in Europe during the 1980s and its unique name basically refers to a place in England.
The main beauty of the Walker’s Low Catmint resides in its attractive clumps of upright stems that grow in an ascending manner, the amazingly aromatic gray-green foliage and also its gorgeous white, blue, and purple flowers.
This plant grows best dry to medium, well-drained soils and prefers full sun to partial shade sun conditions. It is often considered to be an extremely aromatic member of the mint family, a quality that greatly attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
The lavender blue flowers of this plant bloom in great abundance during the early summer season and then continue growing rapidly throughout the entire blooming period. It loves growing in dry soil conditions and is quite notable for being amazingly drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant as well as humidity-tolerant.
There is truly no doubt about the fact that catmint flowers are absolutely beautiful and they really do deserve to be a part of every yard and garden. Not only do they have such a distinctive and pleasant smell, but they will add such beauty, grace, and splendor wherever you plant them that will just blow you away!