Catmint, a Useful and Irresistible Herb

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As its name implies, the catmint plant (Nepeta grandiflora) is irresistible for cats. This herb is known to induce euphoria in animals, especially cats. Catmint is part of the mint family and it’s native to the Caucasus. This plant can grow up to 30” tall. It has fragrant, spiky, dark grey-green leaves and dark blue flowers which bloom in the summer. This plant is related to true catnip but tends to appear lusher.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Blossoms
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Blossoms
(Photo by: James Steakley/Wikimedia Commons)

Edibility and culinary use

Despite being known for its effects on cats, cats aren’t the only ones who can enjoy catmint. This plant is edible for humans and it even has some medicinal benefits. The leaves and flowers can be steeped to make tea. Catmint herbal tea has a mild minty taste and a sweet fragrance.

Catmint contains a compound called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is what makes this herb irresistible to cats. Among other benefits, nepetalactone has a calming and relaxing effect. So, this herbal tea really helps in relieving stress and reducing anxiety. It even has a mild sedative effect which can relieve insomnia and allow you to sleep better.

Alternatively, you can also eat the leaves. Young leaves have a lovely minty flavor and a mild fragrance, making them a great aromatic addition for salads. Meanwhile, older leaves can be used as a herb in cooked dishes.

Health benefits

Aside from relieving tension and improving sleep quality, this herb also offers other health benefits. Much like other herbal teas, catmint tea can aid digestive problems such as upset stomachs, excessive gas, diarrhea, and nausea. It’s also good for respiratory problems such as cold, cough, and chest congestion. Catmint can relieve stomach pain and menstrual pain as well.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Flowers
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Flowers
(Photo by: KitAy/Flickr)

Catmint also has a diuretic effect, this induces sweating and increases urination frequency. As a result, this herb is often used to treat fever and water retention. Lastly, it has anti-inflammatory effects, so it can also be used to treat arthritis, hemorrhoids, and bug bites.

Cultivation

Catmint is a wonderful addition to any garden, regardless of whether you wish to make your garden feline-friendly or not. As we’ve covered earlier, catmint is certainly a useful herb to have around. The eye-catching flowers can also attract butterflies that will help your garden thrive. At the same time, it will protect your garden from harmful insects like ants and flea beetles as well as other pests like rats and mice.

Ideally, you should plant catmint in a sunny location, but it can also tolerate partial shade. As for the soil, catnip loves sandy soil and clay soil that’s somewhat moist and well-drained. This hardy plant is drought-resistant, so you don’t have to water them too often. You also don’t need to bother with fertilizer too much, just once or twice a year will do. Catmint can thrive in poor soil. In fact, rich soil may sometimes cause the plant to split in the middle.

Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Flowers
Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora) Plant and Flowers
(Photo by: Lynn Gardner/Flickr)

Start the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Make sure to keep the seeds warm, moist, and fertilized. After they’re well-established, they can be transplanted into your garden after the last danger of frost has passed. Keep them 12” apart from each other to avoid overcrowding. They should be able to start blooming in their first summer if you plant them early enough.

Cautions

Catmint should be avoided by pregnant women and those with a pelvic inflammatory disease because it can induce menstruation. It’s also advisable to stop or limit catmint consumption during menstruation as it may make period flows heavier. Lastly, this herb has sedative effects, so avoid consumption before driving and two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Conclusion

Whether you have a pet cat or not, having a catmint plant around will still benefit you immensely. Aside from being a lovely ornamental plant, it can also help your garden thrive by attracting butterflies and repelling pests. Additionally, catmint has had an extensive history of being a household herbal remedy. Its delicious minty taste makes it great to use in cooking and as an herbal medicine for children.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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