Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Catmint is a wonderful and showy little herbaceous perennial, both well adapted to harsh conditions and resistant to wildlife grazing. It is known to grow at alpine elevations, especially the "Walker's Low" cultivar, making it a perfect plant for a High Altitude Homestead.
This species of plant is actually not native to America!! I know! What a shocker, coming from me, but nevertheless I love it for many reasons and it is deservedly so. Technically it is a cross between two species of plants in the mint family, Nepeta racemosa, known as catnip, and Nepeta nepetella, known commonly as "lesser catmint". Being that it is a hybrid plant, that means is that the seeds produced are typically sterile. So in order to grow more catmint you will have to purchase a live plant and simply establish it in the right area. It can grow up to three feet in its first year! It is easily dividable and you can acquire new plants from it year after year.
Catmint prefers full or part sun, in well drained soil, average to rich in organic matter. In the first year they will need to be well watered, but they do tend to be quite drought tolerant once they are established.
The main reason I love it is that it smells so good! Like most mint family members you can get a great whiff by simply running your hand over the soft leaves. This will attract a lot of pollinators, the honeybee especially, but maybe your cat too...
The flowers are tiny little showy blue purple trumpet flowers that grow on many spires, making an incredible pop of color alongside the dusty green foliage. It is an amazing addition to any flower beds or herb gardens.
A lot of people will use catmint in soups and sauces as it is entirely edible. You may just have to do some experimenting on your own, because like I mentioned, it smells amazing!
Medicinally it can be brewed into teas to help calm nerves, relieve coughing and congestion, and is even good for menstrual cramps.
It is no doubt that this hardy and lovely perennial and pollinator plant can be quite useful, making it an essential to any High Altitude Homestead.