Updated: May 1, 2022

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb known for its intoxicating effect on cats. However, it also has medicinal benefits, such as calming properties and relief from digestive issues. Growing catnip outdoors is relatively easy, and here are some tips to help you get started.

Choosing the Right Location

Catnip needs plenty of sunlight to thrive, so choose a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. It also prefers well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.8. Ideally, the soil should be sandy or loamy, but catnip can grow in almost any soil type as long as it’s not waterlogged.

Planting Your Catnip

The best time to plant catnip is in the spring after the last frost has passed. Start by preparing the soil by removing any weeds or rocks and adding compost or organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.

You can either start your catnip plants from seeds or purchase seedlings from a local nursery. If starting from seeds, sow them directly on the soil surface and cover them lightly with soil. Water the seeds gently, and they should germinate within two weeks.

If using seedlings, dig holes that are slightly larger than the root ball of the plant and plant them at the same depth they were in their container. Gently pat down the soil around the base of the plant and water it thoroughly.

Caring for Your Catnip

Catnip is relatively low maintenance once established. Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged, especially during hot and dry weather. Fertilize your catnip once a month during the growing season using a balanced fertilizer.

Prune your catnip regularly to encourage bushier growth and prevent it from becoming too leggy. Pinch back stems by one-third of their length when they reach a height of four inches.

Harvesting Your Catnip

Catnip is ready for harvest once it starts to flower. Cut the stems just above the leaves and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area to dry. Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container.

Common Problems and Solutions


Catnip is relatively pest-free, but it can attract aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. To control these pests, spray your plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Catnip is susceptible to root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot. To prevent these diseases, avoid overwatering your plants and provide good air circulation by spacing them properly.


If you have cats at home, be prepared for them to be drawn to your catnip plants. They may roll around in them, chew on the leaves, or even dig them up. Consider planting your catnip in an area that’s not easily accessible to your feline friends.


Can I grow catnip indoors?

Yes, catnip can be grown indoors in a sunny window or under grow lights.

Can I use fresh catnip for my cat?

Yes, fresh catnip is safe for cats to consume and play with.

How often should I water my catnip plant?

Water your catnip plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.

How long does it take for catnip seeds to germinate?

Catnip seeds typically germinate within two weeks of sowing.

Is catnip invasive?

Catnip can be invasive in some areas, so check with your local extension office before planting it in your garden.