You may be wondering what the difference is between Catmint and Catnip, even if they're the same thing! Given that they’re both from the mint family and have “cat” in the name, you may also be wondering about their feline connection, their effects on your cat, and how they can grow in your garden.
Let's dive into these “cat” plants to uncover the differences that matter to both cat owners and gardeners!
What is Catnip
Catnip is a botanical enchantress that is captivating to cats. Catnip or Nepta Cataria is a member of the mint family that's known for its gray/green foliage local to north America that features sassy square stems and bushy growth that you’ll see your cat bury itself into if it gets the chance!
Given catnip's busy exterior, which looks fun to play in, lies a secret weapon: nepecatalone! This compound drives felines wild. It's an essential oil that treats various conditions in cats, such as restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and even upset stomachs.
Its a herbal goddess. Why not give our organic herbal goddess Cat Crack Catnip Organic a try. Your cat will love it.
What is Catmint?
Catmint is Catnip’s sophisticated relative that's less about the feline fantasy and more about making your garden look glamorous. Catmint has some wonderful properties for gardeners versus our feline friends. Gardeners love catmint as it can thrive in most places, and due to its pest-repellant properties plus its attractive properties for pollinators such as bees.
Difference between growing catmint and catnip?
Despite catnip and catmint being part of the same nepeta genus family with many common traits, they have many differences in their own rights. Withere its propagation methods, growth habits or their attraction to our cat companions each has its own unique properties.
Propagration and care
Gardeners or budding enthusiasts with green paws should know that cultivating catnip and catmint is pretty straightforward! Both plants can be grown from seeds and catmint can also be propagated from cuttings in water or soil.
To grow catnip, you can follow the same process. If you want more information on growing catnip, you can check out our How to Grow catnip article here. Both plants prefer well-drained soil and plenty of direct sunlight. They generally thrive in temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Managing Plant Spread
These plants love to spread themselves around your garden as much as cats love to spread themselves as they roll around the floor for their catnip! Containing these nepeta genus plants is crucial for the garden ecosystem, especially if you have them planted amongst other flowers, as catnip can become invasive and competitive if not managed otherwise.
Catnip can grow fast spread easily, and become invasive if not managed. On the other hand, Catmint is a well-behaved cousin and grows in a singular area, making it less likely to grow uncontrollably.
However, if you’re going to plant either, you should give them enough space to grow and avoid overcrowding the pot with their roots or other plants.
Key Differences between Catmint and Catnip
- Catnip has white flowers and heart-shaped leaves. Aww.
- Catnip is a magnet for cats, thanks to the high concentration of nepetalactone.
- Can reach up to 4ft in height and width.
- Spreads easily.
- catmint has lavender blue flowers and greyish leaves. How pretty!
- It's more of an ornamental plant attracting pollinators and repelling pests.
- Can reach up to 2ft in height and width
- Doesn't spread easily
- It contains a lower dose of nepetalactone, and its effects are weaker than those of catnip.
Do Cats like Catmint?
Catmint, like catnip, does contain nepetalactone, but it has a milder effect due to the lower concentration of the essential oil the catmint plant contains naturally. When cats do come into contact with catmint they may have a similar reaction to catnip by exhibiting some euphoric or relaxed behaviours.
Frequently asked questions
Are Catmint and Catnip the same?
No, catmint and catnip are not the same. While they belong to the same genus (Nepeta) family and have similar attributes, they have distinct differences in how they look, growth patterns, and properties, such as nepectalone. Catnip has higher concentrations of nepctalone, while catmint has a lesser concentration and does not get as much reaction from cats.
Is Catmint safe for cats?
Yes, Catmint is safe for cats. If you have a catmint plant and would like to try it out with your cat, you can snip some catmint from themstem for them to chew, sniff or roll on. They may have a similar reaction to catnip.
What are the best conditions for growing catnip and catmint?
Best catnip and catmint conditions are similar. They like well-draining soil and sunlight. They can tolerate some shade and thrive in temperatures between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Which is better, catnip or catmint?
Catnip is generally the go-to choice for our feline friends. That's why cats love Cat Crack! However, if you’re looking for something more decorative in your garden with the beautiful lavender blue leaves that catmint has and still make your cat happy, then catmint may be the way to go!
How can I tell the difference between catnip and catmint
The blue flowers on the catmint are a key giveaway for the catmint plant. No need to be an experienced botanist for this one. Your cat can also tell too, by the effects of the nepectalone content. They’ll be more euphoric or relaxed around catnip vs catmint!