Catnip / Catmint

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Catnip Catnip

Catmint's name of course derives from the fact that many cats love the smell and taste. They contain chemicals called nepetalactones which are irresistible to some cats, and as a result catmint is often used to fill ‘toys’ for cats. Not all cats are attracted to this though; young kittens and some older cats will show no response at all to catnip.

The fact that it does attract cats can however make this a problem on an allotment. If you choose to grow this herb, then I highly recommend doing so away from your vegetable garden.

It was also widely grown in the hippie era in the late 60’s and early 70’s as it has a mild hallucinogenic effect when smoked.

Growing Catnip

Catnip can be grown from seed, or purchased as a small plant from the garden centre, however it is very easy to propagate by dividing existing plants, so ask your allotment neighbours and if they are growing any you will probably find they are only too happy to give you some for free. 

Catnip is usually upright growing and usually reaches a height of between 30-60cm, and plants should be set between 25-30cm apart. Mix in plenty of well rotted manure before planting, and if planting in pots as recommended it's also worth using some water retaining gel in the compost mixture.

Finally don’t forget to grow this away from your veg patch to avoid problems with cats.


Very easy to grow from seed, but they can also be divided or grown from root cuttings.

Using Catnip

Fresh young leaves can be used to rub onto meat for their minty flavour, and prior to the introduction of Chinese tea in Britain, catmint leaves were used as an alternative – try it and let us know!

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

More in this category: « Myrtle Basil »
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