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Nepeta Mussinii - Catmint

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Characteristics: Catmint has opposite gray leaves and handsome, long-blooming spikes of purple or blue flowers on stems up to 15 inches high. Plants often sprawl, so they may seem shorter.

Growing Information: Plant catmint in well-drained soil of moderate fertility in full sun or light shade. It blooms prolifically during the summer if you keep it deadheaded.

Propagation: Sow seed outdoors in spring or late summer, or start seedlings indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. You can also divide existing plants and transplant self-sown seedlings.

Cultivars: The Nepeta x faassenii hybrid grows more upright and is sterile. You can only propagate it by cuttings and division. 'Dropmore' has large lavender-blue flowers; 'Snowflake' has white flowers.

Possible Problems: None serious.

Harvesting and Using: The foliage is aromatic but not as appealing to cats as catnip. Catmint's main value is as a long-blooming ornamental, but you can dry the foliage and flowers for potpourri.

Related Herbs: Catnip (N. cataria) is a favorite of felines all over the world. It is not as attractive as catmint, producing small white flowers and often getting shaggy close to the end of the growing season. It self-sows with abandon unless deadheaded, but sometimes dies after only a year or two of life. You can harvest the leaves and sprigs for your cats or for tea.