Catnip

Catnip

nepeta cataria

Catnip is a mild sedative that helps with anxiety and insomnia. It also helps with colds and an upset stomach. A nervous calmative and muscle relaxer.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Cat's Wort, Catmint, Field Balm
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves and Flowers
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About Catnip

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a well-respected member of the family Lamiaceae. It is also generally known as catswort and catmint as it serves as a hot-spot for the impatient cats. Both plants and cats have an undying affinity for each other.

This herbaceous perennial plant is quite gigantic as it has been witnessed to attain a superb height that ranges from 20 to 40 inches. It has a square-shaped stem with brownish-green, triangular to elliptical shaped leaves and exquisitely fragrant flowers that can be pink or white with a hint of pale purple spots.

Catnip is highly popular among tea lovers. Medicinally, it is reported to induce menstruation, treat intestinal cramps and, indigestion. It is also employed as a sedative-hypnotic and to elevate the appetite.

It possesses the same active ingredient that is quite similar to valepotriates, nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is a mood elevator as it enhances relaxation, diminishes anxiety, agitation, and nervousness. Such medicinal perks can be of great use when they are employed for an anxiety or insomniac patient but its excessive exposure can be a bit hallucinogenic for your feline friend.

Growing

The spring or fall season is very suitable for the growth of Catnip. This plant is quite is easy to grow in both indoor and outdoor locales.

It is able to tolerate partial sun exposure and any sort of soil but manifests the best growth if it is rendered with full sun and well-drained soil. Catnip plants do not require any hustle of fertilizers as they are liable to curtail the much-awaited flavor and smell. Instead, they need plenty of water if they are being grown in drought conditions or pot.

For both containerized pot and garden beds, the seeds need to undergo stratification to break their dormancy. To do so, the tough seeds are frozen for a night then immersed in water for 24 hours. By doing so, the seed coat breaks, letting them sprout.

Catnip plant seeds take around 2 weeks to germinate. The germination is then followed by further growth of the plant. The flowers grow on the spikes, throwing good vibrations to all the pollinating insects.

After a favorable pollination process, fertilization comes around dancing like a diva. The flowers start showing brown spots that mark the era of seed saving for further propagation and continuation of the lifecycle of the catnip plant.

Harvesting

The plant is best to harvest when it is flowering that usually occurs in mid-summer. The time that suits favorably is morning, as all the essence of dew has evaporated from the leaves which save the yield from getting moldy.

Another fun fact about harvesting the plant in mid-summer is that at this time, the beloved flavors of the catnip are at their best, so better get it snipped to give a perfect treat to your feline friend.

The seeds of the Catnip plant are harvested by shaking the brown-spotted flowers vigorously.

For leaves and flowers, the whole plant is cut out and its parts are then separated to be enjoyed either in fresh or dried form.


The stems of the catnip, containing flowers and leaves are hanged upside in a well-ventilated area, cool and dark area. The dried leaves and flowers can then be crumbled and stored in an airtight glass jar.

Usage

Despite being loved by cats, this heroic herb is also pretty popular among human circle and is used in different preparations for different purposes.

  • Tincture- Infuse freshly chopped catnip leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea- Dried Catnip leaves are boiled in water. Honey and lemon are also added to form a perfect Catnip tea.
  • Decoction- Dried Catnip leaves are simmered in water to form a decoction.
  • Salve- Dried Catnip leaves are employed along with beeswax and other carrier oils and ingredients for the framing of Catnip salve.
  • Syrup- Dried Catnip leaves are simmered in sugary water to form Catnip syrup.
  • Infused oil- Dried Catnip leaves are infused with olive oil for making Catnip infused oil.