Catnip Winter Care – Is Catnip Winter Hardy

Catnip Winter Care – Is Catnip Winter Hardy

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Catnip is a great herb to grow in the garden if you have cats. Even if you don’t, it is a perennial herb that is easy to grow and attracts bees and other pollinators. You can even make a tasty and stomach-soothing tea from it. Depending on where you live, winter can be a little harsh on your catnip, so know what to do to protect it during the colder months.

Is Catnip Winter Hardy?

Catnip cold tolerance is pretty high and it grows well in zones 3 to 9. However, an unusually cold winter or colder climates can present a problem for catnip grown outdoors. If you want it to come back healthy and productive each spring, it may be necessary to provide some protection and extra care for catnip plants in winter. This is especially important if you live in the northern, colder areas of its growing region.

Catnip Winter Care

If you grow catnip in a container, you can simply bring it indoors for the winter. Give it a cooler spot without too much sun and water only occasionally. If, however, your catnip is growing in beds outdoors, you should prepare it for the winter months.

In late fall, prep your catnip for winter by trimming it back. Cut the stems down to just a few inches, and especially trim back any new growth so it won’t get damaged in the cold. Give the plant a last, long drink of water and then don’t water it over the winter.

For catnip frost protection in locations where you get some very cold weather, you can use a cloche to cover the plant. Be sure to keep an eye on it though, and remove or shade it on sunny, warmer days so your catnip doesn’t get too hot.

Avoid fertilizing your catnip as winter sets in. This will only encourage new growth that can get damaged by the colder weather in winter. Also, avoid using too much mulch. Some mulch can help keep moisture and heat in the soil, but too much will prevent the sun from warming it.

If you take these protective steps and avoid a couple of easy mistakes, your catnip plant should come back in the spring, big, healthy, and growing.

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Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Nepeta cataria is aptly named for its luring effect on cats, and it proves to be just as low maintenance as our feline companions. Catnip, also known as catmint, catswort, or catwort, is a perennial herb from the mint family, Lamiaceae. It can grow up to three to four feet tall and wide with long beautiful flower spikes, and grows easily indoors and outdoors in the ground or in a container. Like most plants in the mint family, Catnip may die back in the winter with a freeze but will return ready to flourish in the Spring.

Nepeta cataria has practical uses for us bipeds, too, with some use in cooking for soups, stews, sauces, and an herbal tea that reportedly aids anxiety. Catnip can be harvested when the stems are fully grown. Cut the stems to the base of the plant, and hang them to cure until totally dried.

While the native range of Nepeta cataria is in southern and eastern Europe and Asia, it widely naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America. Its well-traveled propagation is a true sign of its plant hardiness, although overly wet soils and too much sun can be harmful to the plant.

Plant Type
Perennial Herb

Harvest Season
Summer, Fall

Like most mint varieties, Catnip will die back in the Winter (if there is freeze, of course) and return in the Spring!

Mature Size
Up to 4 ft. tall and wide

Soil & Moisture
Well-drained soil, drought-tolerant, low moisture

Light Requirements
Full Sun, Part Shade

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 3-9 Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Propagation
Grown from seed and ready to harvest within the season


Catmint Features: An Overview

  • The most popular species from the Nepeta genus are N. Sibirica, N. Subsessilis, N. Cataria, and the hybrid N. × Faassenii.
  • Catmints are herbaceous perennial plants that can reach from 24 to 36 inches (0.6-0.9 m) in height and 12 to 36 inches (0.3-0.9 m) in width. Some varieties grow smaller or up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 3 feet (0.9 m) wide.
  • They have light green to gray-green, heart-shaped leaves that grow opposite on a sturdy stem.
  • Their aromatic foliage does not attract deer or rabbits, but it might have a funny effect on your cats.
  • Typically, catmint plants bloom from late spring to early summer. If proper growing conditions are met, they will flourish again in autumn.
  • They produce tubular flowers that can come in numerous shades of violet, blue, lavender, white, or pink. Some species may exhibit petals that are spotted with small purple dots.
  • They bear smooth, slightly ribbed, or warty nutlets.
  • If you do not want your Catmint plant to feel alone, you can effectively pair it with European sage, Jupiter’s beard, Lamb’s ear, yarrow, roses, poppy mallows, or peonies.

Best Winter Herbs

1. Chervil

Chervil is a special herb that prefers a weather that’s cool and less of sunlight. It is delicate in nature, with its fern-like leaves which makes it looks attractive.

2. Rosemary

Rose is one of the few perennial herbs you can find around. This means that you can grow it all year round and it can defend itself from getting punctured by icy temperatures.

3. Thyme

Thyme is a stressful herb to cultivate. However, it grows better in winter seasons. It makes a bushy, small pot plant and gets better when you pick more of its leaves.

4. Parsley

This plant shouldn’t be underestimated for no reason. It has a more resilient virtue than you can ever imagine. In very cold climate conditions, they will hide under the ground to remain safe and fruitful.

5. Sage

Sage, unlike thyme, needs more nurturing because its growth seems to be slower than others as the leaves become smaller during the winter season.

6. Mint

Mint is a very strong herb, almost like thyme. If you have grown this plant before, you would have noticed that it takes over the planter space and so, it should be planted in a separate planter pot.

7. Oregano

Oregano is a very robust winter herb that grows in cold season because it can easily withstand the frost of winter. The more harvest made from oregano, the bigger it grows.

8. Winter savory

There is a similar flavor of the winter savory that resembles thyme, but winter savory leaves an element of tang around itself. It’s used for making great meals like beef at home.

9. Hyssop

Although this herb has a low popularity, it can grow very strong in cold weather, in pots. It comes with an attraction of bushy and spiky blue flowers.

10. Basil

Basil is another popular best winter herbs you can find around the planet. It is used for seasoning and flavoring around the world. There are different varieties of basil herbs are in different regions, cold or tropical.

11. Yarrow

Yarrow is a perennial herb, it’s also hardy. It makes a cute pot plant design with its unique pink leaves like a feather.

12. Bay

Bay is also a perennial herb that performs better with the container method in gardens. You just have to place the container facing the window in the west-or-east direction.

13. Tarragon

For Tarragon to perform better, it requires you to place it indoors, especially during winter season. It is more common in the Asian world, as a spicy ingredient for frying or cooking.

14. Sorrels

Sorrel has a sour and strong lemon flavor. When cooked, it forms a classic combination with salmon and eggs. It is easily grown in containers.

15. Chives

Chives are perfect for salads or snipped in various soups. It can also be added as a garnish to different kind of dishes. It is very easy to grow chives during winter seasons because it requires not more than three or four hours of sunlight a week, preferably in damp soils.

Final note

If you decide to introduce indoor gardening during falls, start with already established plants. This will help them to continuously grow indoors even in winter, thereby producing quicker. Before winter herbs can be used or harvested, it will require more time and attention.


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