Catmint Plant Care

A garden is all about sharing, so to make things equal around our place, Catnip is a must. While the dry and dusty bagged leaves will get ol' Nilla by, she much prefers her greens fresh! Who can blame her? Well, to keep the fuzzball satisfied with her own euphoric goodness, it's more than handy to have a live and ready catmint plant. In this post, I'll explain proper catmint plant care including seed germination, plant requirements and growing in containers. Even though I'll be using catnip as my example, the same process may be applied to virtually every mint species you wish to grow from seed!


Germinating Catmint Seed - 

The most frustrating part about how to care for catmint, or any other mint for that matter, is seed germination. Having sprouted many a mint plant from seed, I can definitely attest to their finicky germination requirements. The good news is that once you've managed to get the seeds to sprout, it's all easy going from there!
  1. Prepare to begin planting catmint seeds indoors six to ten weeks before the average last frost in your area. 
  2. In small plastic containers (yogurt cups w/drainage hole cut into bottom), fill with a fine potting soil and water well. 
  3. To each container with pre-moistened soil, sprinkle a few catnip seeds atop. 
  4. With a spray bottle, gently mist the top of the soil just to help the seeds set in. Be careful not to flood the soil.
  5. Loosely cover each container to form a dome with plastic wrap or a sandwich bag. Place the container under lighting allowed to constantly remain on. 
  6. Mist the soil as needed. The topsoil must stay consistently moist for the seeds to germinate. 
  7. In 5-10 days, catmint seedlings should begin to appear!
  8. Once the seedlings are about a half inch tall and setting their first true leaves, thin the containers so that one plant remains in each. Keep the seedlings watered and under constant light until transplanting is needed.
  9. When the seedlings are old enough to show two sets of true leaves, transplant the mint seedlings into their final container and begin to harden off outdoors. 

Catnip seedling with mint
cuttings in PC grow box.

You'll have to find a place in your home to support proper mint germination. For me, I've found that germinating mint seeds works best in an old hollowed out Computer Tower. I keep one 15 watt light in the box and leave it running 24hrs during seed germination. Since all mint seeds need light for sprouting, allowing them full access to light only helps speed things up, plus the small amount of heat generated assists to keep soil temperatures warm. Constant light, consistent moisture and temperatures right around 70°F have proved to be the optimal conditions!

Container Gardening & How to Care for Catmint - 
While seed germination may be a little tricky, the rest of catnip plant care is more than easy. Below I've compiled a list of basic requirements for catnip as well as a few maintenance requirements to keep your plants strong and healthy. 
  • Well Draining Potting Soil - While the nutritional value of the soil is generally not as much of an issue, drainage must be provided for catnip plants to thrive. Catnip will need plenty of water, but will not tolerate waterlogged or soggy soil conditions. 
  • Full Sun/Part Shade - Unlike other mint plants that seem to tolerate a good amount of shade, catmint tends to prefer full sun. With at least 6-8 hours of full sun daily, the plants will remain at their healthiest, sustaining dense and lush growth. 
  • Container Size - Contrary to what you might imagine, catnip, as well as all other mints, need a surprisingly large container to do well in. Since mint roots spread rapidly and will eventually begin to grow underground runners, a two gallon container is recommended as a minimum final container size for one catmint plant.
  • Watering - As I mentioned before, catnip plants enjoy a great deal of moisture. They prefer the soil to be moist at all times. This means that you may end up watering catnip plants daily during hot spells. Check to see that the soil is moist but not over watered. Soggy soils can and most likely will lead to rotting of roots. 
  • Root Maintenance - If you wish to regrow catnip in the same container size each year, root maintenance will need to be performed. At the end of the season when the catnip has died back, remove the soil and root ball from the container. With scissors, cut the root ball into four equal parts. Plant one back into the container and cover with soil. The other three parts can be planted for additional plants or composted.

Final Word - Catnip Plant Care
Make it past the seedling stage and you're home bound! Container gardening with catnip is an absolute breeze, and your cat will love you for doing so. Thanks for reading this post on catmint plant care. Keep gardening and take it easy!