Ever thought about growing your own catnip but don't want to deal with the hassle of growing it outside, or living in the bustling city, with no choice but to tend to your plant babies in your apartment?
What if you could grow a plant that adds a refreshing green touch to your home and serves as a delightful treat for your feline friends? Well, it’s time to introduce you to the wonderful world of growing catnip!
This blog post will guide you through the complete process - from understanding the plant and preparing for growth to planting, caring, and finally harvesting your own catnip from the comfort of your own home!
The Basics of Growing Catnip Indoors
Growing catnip indoors is a rewarding experience, not just for you but also for your feline friends who adore this plant. Catnip, a member of the mint family, is a perennial herb that is relatively easy to grow indoors with minimal care. Nepeta Cataria is known for its tantalizing effect on most cats, but it also has culinary and medicinal uses for humans.
Let’s gain more insight into this feline frenzy causing plants, their leaf growth, and the variances between indoor and outdoor new growth of the catnip plant!
The classic variety of catnip, Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the same family as mint. It can be identified by its small white flowers and is relatively easy to cultivate.
Catnip’s power lies in its essential oil, nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves and stems and gives off a scent that is irresistible to most cats. However, its appeal isn’t limited to our feline friends. With its optimal growth conditions of good drainage, ample sunlight, and a preference for warm temperatures, catnip is a delightful addition to any indoor garden.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Growth
Catnip grows wonderfully in both indoor and outdoor settings, it's one of those “I’m happy to be here” plants! However, with growing inside vs outside, there are a couple of key differences in the growth habits and how you take care of your catnip plant.
Indoor catnip plants, you will grow in a container. When you are growing catnip in containers, their development is restricted due to the confined space of the container. If you get a big enough container, it can solve this problem. Whereas outdoor catnip plants grow “wild” and can expand as much as they possibly can.
Growing your catnip indoors will allow for better-growing conditions as you can control the light and temperature of the plants, and since you’re indoors, it reduces the risk of those pesky flies and pests that are common for outdoor plants! Plus, indoors, your catnip is safe from neighborhood cats who cannot resist a sniff, only your own curious cat will have the chance to bask in your glorious growth!
Preparing to Grow Catnip Inside
Ready to start your catnip-growing adventure, just like our own Kingpin? Great! The first step is to prepare for planting.
This involves selecting the right container and ensuring optimal potting soil and proper drainage. The choice of container and soil type can significantly influence the growth of your catnip plants.
Let's look at the steps you’ll need to become a Catnip Cultivator!
Selecting the Right Container For Catnip Plants
Choosing the right container is crucial for the healthy growth of your indoor catnip plant. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- The container should be at least 8 to 10 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches deep to allow the roots to extend and grow.
- Materials such as plastic or fabric pots are advisable to prevent any scary accidents in case your cat gets overly playful and uses its paw to casually knock it off the shelf! No ceramics or clay pots that may break and could hurt with sharp edges!
- Additionally, the container should have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging to ensure that the roots are not sitting in water, which could lead to root rot. (ew). You should also get a draining tray underneath to catch any water!
Optimal Potting Soil and Drainage
Once you’ve chosen a container, the next step is to use high-quality, nutrient-rich potting soil. The soil should have good drainage, this is the most important! It should also provide adequate aeration and retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. Catnip grows best in loamy and sandy soil, which ensures good drainage.
The catnip plant does well with little water and is drought-tolerant! Awesome for you, California residents!
For those of you soil nerds, the soil pH should be mildly acidic to mildly alkaline, ranging from 6.1 to 7.8 for optimal catnip growth. The PH of the soil will be on the soil package you choose, so you know exactly which one you have.
Planting Your Catnip Seeds Indoors
Now that you have the container and soil, it’s time to sow your catnip seeds. Planting catnip seeds indoors involves quite a few steps, including seed preparation and the actual sowing process!
Let's get those green fingers out!
Catnip Seed Preparation
Before sowing, the catnip seeds need to undergo a process called “stratification”, which is a fancy word for germination. You may already be familiar with the process if you have tried growing an avocado plant during the lockdown.
- Grab a piece of paper towel and make it slightly damp by spritzing it or putting it under running water.
- Sprinkle the catnip seeds onto the damp paper towel.
- Fold the paper towel so the seeds are covered
- Place the paper towel in a ziplock bag
- Put the bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
Sowing and Spacing
Once the seeds are stratified, it’s time to sow them. Here’s how:
- Use your small finger to make a hole in the soil
- Spread the seeds inside each of these
- Lightly cover them with about ¼ to ½ inches of soil.
- Provide them with a sunny location and well-drained potting soil.
The seeds should be sown 18 to 24 inches apart to allow enough space for the plants to grow without overcrowding.
How to care for indoor catnip plants
As the seeds start to germinate, the next phase is caring for your catnip plants. This involves:
- Providing the right light and temperature conditions
- Pruning and maintenance
We’ll go over each of these in the next section
Light and Temperature Requirements
Catnip likes temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It also lights sunlight for 6-8 hours per day so it can grow. Finding a space close to a window with natural light is key. We don't recommend putting it at the window as the temperature may vary and the sun's intensity.
Watering your catnip plant
Watering and fertilizing your catnip plants is vital for their growth. You should only water the catnip plant by doing the touch test. When the soil is no longer moist and sticking to your finger, should you water it? Water it but with a moderate amount of water, as overwatering can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot, which will ultimately kill your catnip. You don't want to make your kitty sad without some catnip!
Harvesting and Utilizing Your Indoor Catnip
After all the hard work put into growing your catnip, it’s time for your kitty to enjoy the precious catnip you’ve produced! Harvesting and giving your catnip to your feline friends is super rewarding. Here's how to harvest the catnip.
Harvesting catnip is a straightforward process. Simply cut the stems about 2 to 3 inches above the soil. You can also pick the leaves and buds, give them to your cat or make dried catnip from the leaves. Once the catnip plant flowers, it will have maximum potency.
A few leaves is all you will need to put your kitty into a feline frenzy!
You can do this with a dehydrator and grinding it up to make a dried catnip that will last longer.
Challenges you may face when growing catnip
If your catnip plant is growing or blooming, it could be due to a lack of light or soil conditions, which can be improved by changing the plants' location to a brighter location and feeding the plant appropriately, as mentioned earlier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can catnip be grown indoors?
Yes, catnip can be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill with minimal care and effort. It's a great houseplant for beginning gardeners.
Does catnip need full sun?
Catnip needs full sun for optimal growth, as it prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, it can still thrive in partial shade and poor soils, making it quite hardy even in hot climates.
Should you let catnip flower?
Catnip should be grown in a sunny location with well-drained potting soil for optimal growth. To encourage strong leaf growth, it is best to snip off flower buds if they do appear. Indoor catnip will not be as potent as outdoor plants, but cats will still enjoy it.
How do you get catnip to grow?
To encourage catnip to grow, ensure it is planted in an area with full sunlight and well-drained soil. If you live in a hot climate, it will also appreciate some afternoon shade. Growing catnip in containers is also a good idea.
Is growing catnip easy?
Growing catnip is easy - it is a herbaceous perennial that thrives in much of North America and can be grown outdoors or indoors with lots of sunlight. It produces tiny white flowers and attracts cats to its scent, making it a great treat for felines.