Wyrtig

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312
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catnip

 

Catnip
Nepeta cataria

 

Catnip in early sources

 

Description      Propagation       Cultivation        Harvest

Nepeta cataria Nepeta cataria takes its name from nepenthes, the Greek name for a potion that brings forgetfulness of trouble or grief, a sedative. Cataria means, simply, of cats. Nefte, nepte, and nepitamon are all derived from nepenthe. One of its Welsh names, mynt y gath, means mint of the darts.
Common names, modern Catnip, catswort, nepenthe, nepeta

Description

 
Lifespan Perennial
Habit A mint, square stemmed, bushy if pinched back
Cold hardiness Z 3-9, not frost tender
Size 24-30" high x 24-30" wide

Catnip flower spikeFlower

Upright spikes of tiny white flowers, spotted with purplish pink

Catnip foliageFoliage

Silvery green to dark green, downy  leaves with toothed edges, 1" to 3" long, mint-like. Foliage is strongly scented.

Comments

 

 

Catnip is grown for cats, and also for tea.


Nepetalactone, an essential oil, is a chemical in catnip that mimics a cat pheromone, causing many cats (about 70% of all cats respond) to behave with a strange euphoria -- rolling, rubbing, purring, and sometimes becoming aggressive.


Catmint is the name of another member of the Nepeta family,
N. grandifloria.

Propagation

 

By seed

Grows easily from seed (also from stem cuttings in summer, and from division in spring). However you proceed, be sure to protect young plants from cats.

Germination temperature

65-70 degrees

Germination time

7-10 days

Moisture

Keep barely moist until seed germinates.

Light

Light inhibits germination, so cover seed well and tamp down soil.

Cultivation

 

Soil

Prefers sandy, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Plants may get leggy and fall over if soil is too rich; this will also make plant less fragrant.

Moisture

Drought tolerant

Light

Full sun to part shade

Natural habitat

Waste ground, roadsides, ditches

Vigor

Will self-seed and spread by subsoil runners (like other mints) with gay abandon where happy; to control roots, plant in a container. Because of tendency to spread, makes a good ground cover. For smaller, more manageable plant with milder fragrance, plant Nepeta mussinii.

Diseases

Very healthy plant, only occasionally bothered by whiteflies, spider mites

Pests

Cats will destroy unprotected plants by rolling, chewing, etc.

Companion planting

Said to repel cabbage moths, aphis (including peach aphis), flea beetles, cucumber beetles, squash bug. Bees like it.

Comment

Catnip tea is a mild soporific -- that is, it makes you sleepy; rubbing the leaves on your skin will repel mosquitoes and flies.

Harvest

 

Season to bloom

June-September

Seed collection

After flowering, watch for seed formation; gather seed just before it is totally dry. Spread seed in a small saucer and let dry on sunny window sill (where cats can't get at it) for a few days, then store in paper envelope, labeled with name and date gathered. Seed is viable for about 5 years.


 

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