Nepeta cataria

Almost everyone is familiar with catnip, which is an essential treat for our feline friends. Despite its tendency to bring out a cat’s playful side, this lovely herb does the opposite in most people, promoting relaxation with none of the unpleasant side effects that accompany pharmaceutical sedatives.

Parts Used: Leaves and flowering tops

Precautions: Do not use during pregnancy.

Identifying/Growing: Catnip can sometimes be found growing wild, usually along roadsides. Its heart-shaped leaves have a soft, minty scent, and are greyish-green with a downy coating. White flowers with lavender-colored spots adorn the upper portion of the plant. Catnip is a very pretty addition to the garden. Like other members of the mint family, it is easy to grow and has a tendency to spread if you let it. Start the seeds indoors in spring and transplant young seedlings after the danger of frost, placing them in a sunny, well-drained area. Protect your catnip plants from eager felines by covering them with a lid made of chicken wire. You can harvest the leaves and flowers throughout the season, year after year.