How to Plant and Grow Catmint

This close cousin of catnip delivers hundreds of rich purple booms all summer long.

'Six Hills Giant' Catmint

Denny Schrock

One of the perennial powerhouses of the plant world, catmint is extremely versatile and easy to grow. Rich purple blooms explode into color in early summer just as the spring bulbs are finishing and before many of your summer perennials begin to bloom. The show is spectacular and last for weeks.

Catmints are fast-growing plants. When they first begin in spring, they form tidy little mounds of neat new foliage. They quickly grow outward and begin to set their buds for their flower show. Many species of catmint can become weedy in the garden setting. If you are worried about this, look for sterile varieties like 'Walker's Low' that will not seed about and cause any future problems.

Catmint plants are a wonderful source of nectar for many pollinators and are known to withstand harsh winters.

Catmint Overview

Genus Name Nepeta
Common Name Catmint
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 12 to 36 inches
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Gray/Silver
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Catmint

Catmint is a hardy perennial that grows and blooms throughout USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3–9. These plants can handle a variety of tricky soil situations, so as long as you have sun, you can probably grow catmint.

How and When to Plant Catmint

In the spring, plant catmint plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety, in moist soil. Water new plants regularly during the first year. A sunny location is usually best, but when catmint is planted in the warmest regions, it benefits from afternoon shade.

Catmint Care Tips


An important thing to keep in mind is that although these plants bloom in sunshine or partial shade, they are much more likely to flop open in a shady location.

Soil and Water

One of the best things about catmints is their toughness and ability to handle poor soil conditions. If you've had problems in the past growing things in heavy dry clay, look no further. Catmint can handle it and still thrive.


There's no need to fertilize catmint at all. It isn't a heavy feeder and thrives in poor soil. In fact, the plant tends to flop over and split when the soil is too rich. Established plants may benefit from a single application of compost or a slow time-release fertilizer before the bloom season begins, but it isn't essential.


Once their flowering spectacle is complete, many of the catmints become leggy and flop open. If this is the case, you can easily remedy it by giving the plants a good cutback. This encourages a new flush of growth and a second round of flowers, if you are lucky.

Pests and Problems

Catmint is rarely bothered by pests or problems.

How to Propagate Catmint

The best way to propagate existing plants is through division during the spring growing season. Use a sharp shovel to cut a section of the plant with a good root system and replant it. You can also propagate through cuttings taken in spring. Place 3-inch cuttings in a good potting soil, keep the soil moist, and the cuttings will root in about three weeks.

Catmint or Catnip?

The plant commonly planted in most garden settings is not the typical catnip that you would give to your cats to induce momentary craziness. The common catnip is a close relative called Nepeta cataria. This catnip produces a compound called nepetalactone, which triggers the response in cats. Many other species of Nepeta also produce this compound but in much smaller doses.

Types of Catmint

'Blue Wonder' Catmint

Nepeta cataria Catnip
Cynthia Haynes

Nepeta x racemosa 'Blue Wonder' is compact at 12 to 15 inches tall. Its neat wrinkled leaves are grayish-green and show off the 6-inch terminal spikes of two-lipped dark blue flowers. (Zones 3–9.)


Nepeta cataria
Dean Schoeppner

Nepeta cataria, otherwise known as common catnip, is a herbaceous perennial that makes cats act crazy. (Zones 3–7.)

'Little Titch' Catmint

Nepeta 'Little Tych'
Denny Schrock

Nepeta racemosa 'Little Titch' is a lovely dwarf plant forming a compact mound of green foliage with blue flowers. It grows just 8 to 10 inches tall and spreads up to 12 inches wide, making a great border or edging plant. It blooms almost constantly from late spring through fall. (Zones 4–8.)

Faassen's Catmint

Purple Faassen's Catmint
Marty Baldwin

Nepeta × faassenii is a tough perennial herb that thrives in hot, dry weather. Plants feature mounding sprays of silvery-green foliage with a flush of blue flowers. Deadhead or cut back after the first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and spreads up to 2 feet wide. (Zones 4–9.)

Japanese Catmint

Nepeta subsessilis Catmint
Denny Schrock

Nepeta × subsessilis bears the largest flower clusters of any catmint. Bloom spikes may be 8 inches long and 3 inches wide on plants that grow up to 4 feet tall. Sturdy stems keep the plant from requiring staking or shearing to maintain its strong upright habit. Like other catmints, it has a long season of bloom. (Zones 4–8.)

Persian Catmint

Nepeta mussinii Persian Catmint
Denny Schrock

Nepeta mussinii is a low-growing species that remains under a foot tall with a spread up to 18 inches wide. It's the first catmint to bloom in spring, and although it slows down in the heat of summer, it blooms almost constantly until hard freezes arrive in fall. This species self-seeds readily in the garden and can become weedy if it's not deadheaded regularly. Persian catmint is exceptionally cold-hardy. (Zones 3–9.)

'Six Hills Giant' Catmint

'Six Hills Giant' Catmint
Denny Schrock

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' is sometimes incorrectly listed as a variety of Nepeta × faassenii. It closely resembles that species in all qualities except size—it's twice as large, growing to 3 feet tall and 30 inches wide. It can flop open in midsummer, but if you cut it back after the first flush of bloom, it will reliably rebloom and maintain a uniform mounded habit. (Zones 4–9.)

'Walker's Low' Catmint

'Walker's Low' Catmint
Dean Schoeppner

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' is an outstanding hybrid that has a long season of bloom and is incredibly easy to grow. Although "low" is part of its name, it is not a dwarf variety; it can reach 30 inches tall and wide. (Zones 4–9.)

Catmint Companion Plants

Because catmint tends to come in soft colors, generally blue/purple blooms on top of cool grey-green, this plant is easy to pair with other perennials and annuals without clashing.


Paeonia 'Sweet Marjorie' peony
Bob Stefko

Perhaps the best-loved perennial, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers—single, semidouble, anemone centered (or Japanese), and fully double—in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow announce that spring has truly arrived. The handsome fingered foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Provide it with deep, rich soil with plenty of humus to avoid dryness, and don't plant the crowns more than 2 inches beneath the surface, but these are hardly fussy plants. Where well-suited to the climate, they can thrive on zero care.


White loosestrife lysimachia
Cynthia Haynes

These vigorous growers are beautiful additions to the garden. They vary from tall, stately plants suitable for borders to others that can be planted as creeping groundcovers. Flowers, too, vary from tight spikes of ½-inch to 1-inch cups carried alone or in whorls. Humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil is recommended; some varieties enjoy wet soil and ample water. Several sorts may become invasive and need to be corralled. Note: This is not the invasive purple loosestrife that has been banned in many parts of the United States.

Bee Balm

Close up of Red Monarda
Peter Krumhardt

Bee balm is a wonderful plant for attracting butterflies and helpful bees. This prairie native has spiky flowers in jewel tones of red, pink, purple, and white, surrounded by dark bracts. They grow atop substantial clumps of dark foliage. The aromatic foliage is sometimes used for making tea, and bee balm is often grown in herb gardens. Established plants tend to spread, especially in damp soil. This plant is extremely prone to mildew problems, so be sure to plant in full sun and seek out cultivars touted as resistant to mildew diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What animals does catmint attract?

    Although catmint attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees throughout its bloom period, deer and rabbits give the plant a wide berth. However, don’t be surprised if you find a neighborhood cat rolling in your plants occasionally.

  • How often should catmint be divided?

    Every three or four years, divide catmint plants to keep them vigorous. Spring or early fall are the best times to divide these plants.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles