Has it always been difficult for you to differentiate between the catnip and catmint plants? Also, many of us have often wondered which one of them sends our priceless felines on a euphoric trip? I created a Catmint vs. Catnip guide to help everyone bell the right cat.
Let’s begin with the history
The catmint ("Nepeta Mussina,") and catnip (Nepeta cataria) are herbs of perennial origin and have an aromatic identity. They both come from the family of Labiate, a clan of classy mint. The Roman town of Napeti, was the first one to grow Catmint, hence the name Napeta.
The herbs though the natives of Europe, Africa, and Asia have traveled far and beyond. Today they can be easily found in North America. The Catnip plant has a stronger pungent fragrance compared to the milder aroma of catmint.
What are the popular types of Labiates family?
The family of Labiates has around 250 members. There is Napeta camphorata (Camphor Catnip) with purple dotted flowers, Napeta parnassica (Greek Catnip) with white & pale pink flowers. The Napeta Cataria Citrodora (Lemon Catnip) which exudes a lemony fragrance.
- The catnip has heart-shaped leaves which are scalloped at edges. The leaves are green or gray in color. You will find that the stalk of catnip is hairy and square. The flowers of catnip grow in spikes. The catnip plant has less ornamental value than catmint.
- The catmint also has a square stem with the heart-shaped, toothed leaves. You would find that they bloom best between July and September. The catmint flowers bloom on the short stalk in the whorls type format.
Where can we grow the catnip and catmint plant?
The weedy-looking catnip grows to the height of 1-5 feet. The width of the stem extends between 1-3 feet. Their fragrance attracts pollinators in hoards making it a boon for the environment.
- The catnip grows best in the outdoor environment. You can start sowing seeds around spring time. However, if you live in the hotter part of the world, then it is best to plant the seeds or young seedlings in an area which has a shade shelter.
- The catmint is the suitable herb for landscaping purposes. The plant attains a maximum height of 2-3 feet and has lavender blue flower flocks. They are heat tolerant and regrow quickly flowering many times in the year.
You can grow the catmint through plant propagation techniques. The propagation refers to using existing catmint plant which has oodles of nodes. The juicy stem is sectioned, grafted or divided for new plant growth.
Let’s prepare soil for catnip & catmint
- Catnip is easy on growth and quickly proliferates. However, you are required to keep the soil well drained till the seeds germinate. In humid regions, it is important that we maintain adequate drainage conditions with the help of pebbles.
- Catmint thrives in the compost-amended soil. You need to create a ground bed that is humus rich and well drained. If grown in sandy soil, catmint exhales more fragrance than normal. A distance of 1-2 feet between two saplings is good. It helps the plant to grow to its full extent.
How can we take care of catnip & catmint?
- The catnip seeds require excessive watering during the sowing process. To get a dense bloom, you will need to clip the stem in an early growth phase. It is important that you protect the plant with a right sized fence or partition that will save it from a cat attack.
- The catmint plant needs to be surrounded by mulch to retain moisture and restrict weeds. A regulated water supply is necessary to reap the bloom. The plants need to be pinched to induce bushier growth. The deadheading technique avoids reseeding requirement for catmint.
What about the nutrient composition of catmint and catnip?
You will notice that the Catnip vs. Catmint comparison pales when it comes to the chemistry of these plants. Both contain volatile oils, sterols, acids, and tannins. Some common constituents being citronellal, carvacrol, pulegone, thymol and nepetalic acid.
What are the benefits?
- The catnip can spell a sedative effect on cats as well as humans. Its medicinal usage includes treating nausea, anxiety, headaches or sleep disorders. Catnip stores an essential oil called nepetalactone in its leaves and stems. It is this oil that sends our cats into a dreamy state.
- The catmint is used in a fresh, dried, or frozen format for both culinary as well as other medicinal usages such as herbal tea. The tea induces sleep and helps the sickly perspire without increasing the body temperature.
The two plants with almost similar names are quite apart in their glory and benefits. Also, it is the catnip plant which has the stronger ability to bell the cat. Now you can soothe that wild cat first or cozy up with a sip of herbal tea later. It's your choice.
The war of Catmint vs. Catnip has just begun. To get catnip or to get catmint, you now have the required intelligence. I would be happy to hear your views on this quick research. Do leave your comments, questions in the section below.