Catnip for humans: It is very calming for both the body & the mind. It is very useful for children with digestive &/or emotional disturbances. The essential oil can be used as a fragrance in perfumes, as a culinary flavoring, & as an insect repellent. Note: Pregnant women should avoid catnip, as it can induce uterine contractions.
Catnip for cats: It gets cats high, it makes them happy, spunky, & silly. They enjoy the plant live or dried. The buds are the most potent part of the plant. Put it into cat toys or give it to them as is. They will love you for it! Note: Kittens younger than eight weeks old aren't able to enjoy catnip, wait until they are older.
Catnip seeds need plenty of time to germinate. Plants in the Lamiaceae (aka Mint) family tend to be more difficult to germinate, many novice gardeners fail at growing catnip due to a lack of understanding how plants in the Lamianceae family work. This is why many folks buy started plants from the Mint family rather than try to grow from seed. Note: the seed I sell (like all of my seeds) are the very same seed I use here on my eco farm. I grow it every year, slowly expanding the size of my catnip border garden. I have found most folks don't give the seeds enough time to germinate & unfairly assume they are bad seeds. I can assure you this is not the case. Also, be sure to use sterile seed starting soil, full sun & warmth. Catnip is a summer herb. The cooler the weather, the longer you will have to wait for it to germinate.
Catnip likes light sandy soils & grows best in full sun. You do not need to soak the seeds in water prior to planting. I like to water the seeds daily until they come up. This helps keep the soil moist & the damp soil deters the cats from using the catnip bed as a litter box or place to sleep. Have patience, & be sure to water well until the plants become established. Established plants do not need to be watered as often. Allow soil to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly. During growth, pinch the tips to promote a bushier plant. If you prefer a tall plant, leave the tips alone.
Light: Full sun
Days to emerge: 8 -16 (1+ week - 2 weeks)
Seed depth: 1/8 - 1/4"
Seed Spacing: 18" - 24"
Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria
Harvesting the seeds:
- Air Dry: Clip off the seed heads or buds when dry or nearly dry. They will start to turn from green to brown. Put the seed heads in a paper bag. If needed, hang to finish drying in a well ventilated location that is not damp. Once the buds are fully dry, shake the bag to loosen the seeds from the buds. You can also open the bag, grab one bud stalk at a time & smack the heads against the inside of the paper bag. When you feel you have removed as many seeds as possible, you can either save the buds for further use (teas, cat treats, etc.) or compost them (you will likely get "free" catnip plants in your compost the following year). The seeds will now be loose inside the paper bag. Some will be 100% loose, while others may still be in the seed husk.
- Dehydrator: Line your trays with parchment paper to catch the seeds that fall. You can also use the plastic sheets (no holes) that come with most dehydrators for making fruit leather. Use the lowest herb safe setting (I set mine at 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow to dry anywhere from one to three days. Carefully remove the catnip over a large bowl or paper bag. Shake &/or beat the buds over/against the bowl/bag to loosen more seeds.
You can plant the seeds immediately, or store them in a cool dry location in a sealed light proof container until ready to plant.
Drying the plants:
- Air Dry: Use the same method as in harvesting the seeds except you will be tying a handful of the stalks together with some twine rather than cutting off the seed heads. Hang each tied handful in a well ventilated area out of the sun. The area must not be damp. If you want to save the seeds please read the above instructions on harvesting the seeds. Allow the plants to hang until they are fully dry. This can take several days.
- Dehydrator: Use the same method as in harvesting the seeds. You do not need to put parchment on the sheets if you do not want to save the seeds. Do not over crowd the herbs, so that they can dry evenly.
Plants are dry when the stalks break, rather than bend & the leaves crumble.Store in an airtight container out of the light.
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