How to Grow Catnip For You
and the Puss

Here is how to grow catnip to ward off mosquitoes. The little beasties give me a hard time every summer even here in the UK or when I fly off on vacation to a more exotic location. If they zoom in on you to then you will be eager to grow this herb and see its potential as a insect repellent. Scientifically proven of course!

Catnip - not just for cats!

However, if mozzies are not the problem but moggies are, growing a catnip zone in your herb garden just for these feline foragers will turn them into soft purring playful pussycats.

OK, so mosquitoes and cats are not plaguing you at all, then at least you'll have an new exciting ingredient to add to your summer salads. Yes you can eat catnip and it won't affect your old grey matter either.

How to Grow Catnip From Seed

Catnip seeds are tiny and very hard to handle but easy to germinate. My photo shows a magnified image of them. They are slightly elongated and bean shaped, mostly black with two white dashes to one end. Ironically they look a bit like cat's eyes!

A cocktail stick or toothpick serve as a great tool to pic them up and place in shallow pits in a seed tray of compost. Plant indoors in March and after the last frost re-pot in small pots and harden off. If frost returns then keep them under protection in a cold frame or greenhouse.

When the plants are about 3 to 4 inches high transfer each of them into larger pots or bunch several plants together as a crop 4 to 6 inches apart in a large trough which can be moved around a balcony or patio. If you have a small garden place them in a sunny to semi-shaded spot as they tolerate dappled sunlight or the full midday sun pretty well.

Make a cloche from netting material, plant fleece, or simply buy one to cover and protect them from insect invasion. Water regularly and every day if possible during hot weather.

Flower heads will start to appear around June if planted early. The flowers are purple to lilac coloured.

Don't allow your plants to bolt (grow flower stalks) to encourage thicker leaf growth. If you keep pinching the young leaves at the tips of each stalk they won't develop any flower buds.

How to Grow Catnip Indoors

Yes, catnip can be grown indoors all year round if you require it during the colder months for salads, soups or medicinal purposes. You will need a hydroponic unit to cultivate them but the height of the catnip will be limited. To grow taller, make your own home DIY unit using large tubs with lids, air pumps and grow lights.

Drying Time

Because it was fairly tall and had an early start I harvested my catnip in June. But you can continue to grow it through Autumn and cut it down to 3 to 4 inches from ground level during the winter months where it will lie dormant until the new Spring.

A drying net is ideal for catnip drying during the summer months. It will take about a month to thoroughly dry indoors then simply run your hand down the stems and the leaves will brush off.

I gave my cat Pogo the stems for a treat. He licked and rolled about on them for ages under a set of covered garden chairs. Nice! I am going to make an insect repellent cream to ward off the pesky mosquitoes.

Now here is the fruit of my labour. Insect repellent cream! ...and it works!

You can make it too if you know how to grow catnip, dry it and blend  with Neem and other healthy oils that keep your skin nice and protected..

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