Monday, May 14, 2012

Catnip-Herb of the Week

Catnip faassini - up close

    Like most herbs, catnip is an interesting addition to the garden. The wild variety, nepeta cataria, is well-known for attracting cats and driving them a bit crazy.  If you love cats, go ahead and plant that variety.

  As a bird-lover, I'm not particularly interested in attracting cats to my yard, so I plant a less enticing variety called, nepeta faasseni or nepeta mussini. This sun-loving plant will form a lovely clump growing to about 2 feet.  It flowers early and will repeat if pruned during the summer.  I especially like to plant it in front of rose bushes, which have ugly feet.

Planted in front of my Cinco de Mayo Rose

    Nepeta cataria is traditionally used to make catnip tea, mildly sedating to humans.  It has a minty flavor and blends well with chamomile or lemon balm.

One in every room
    I like to cut catnip when the plant is in  full flower and make small bouquets to place around the house.  Alternatively, I hang the bouquets up side down to dry and use them in dried flower arrangements or wreaths.
Hanging to dry

Dried Herbal Bouquet Up Side Down

   During Victorian times, flowers had a language all their own.  If a lover wanted to convey a particular message to his beloved, he chose a particular flower to send her.  Catnip meant "intoxicated with love."

Catnip - smells good, tastes good, looks good, easy to grow.  What more could you ask of a plant?

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