Growing and Saving the Seeds of Catmint and Catnip

The catmint/catnip genus (plant family) name is Nepeta, and these plants are perennial members of the mint family. While the plants are very similar and growing instructions are identical, there is a difference between catnip and catmint. The leaves and stems of catnip (Latin name Nepeta cataria) are rich in a chemical called nepetalactone. It is the reason for its most famous quality of attracting cats. However, this plant is also known to attract beneficial wasps and can repel some annoying pests. Catnip is also known for its medicinal properties as a tea and is a must in a healer's garden. Catmint (Latin name Nepeta mussinii) has imense ornamental value, with its blooms of many shades. Catmint is much less attractive to cats.



Native to Europe, Africa and Asia and loved by cats and their humans throughout the ages. The Romans regarded catnip very highly and used it in their recipes and herbal medicines. In Medieval times, catnip was used for all manner of things. Catnip was introduced to America around the 18th century when settlers brought plant cuttings with them for food and medicinal purposes. Native Americans also began to use catnip after it naturalized.


  • Ornamental
  • Pet friendly
  • Perennial landscaping




  • Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.
  • Surface sow directly outdoors in spring after threat of frost is over.
  • Keep moist to germinate.


  • Space plants 18 inches apart.
  • Provide full sun to partial shade.
  • Tolerates a wide range of soil, preferring average quality, well-drained soil.


  • Unless you plant catnip with your cats in mind, enclosing at least some of it for your personal harvest may be wise.


  • Let flowers mature, turn brown, and dry.
  • Cut the stalks before the head shatters and shake seeds into a bag.