Table of Contents
- Why Do Cats Love Catnip?
- How to Grow Catnip Indoors
- How to Grow Catnip: Varieties to Grow Indoors
- What Type of Soil is Best for Catnip Plants?
- How to Grow Catnip: Propagating a Catnip Plant
- What Are the Side Effects of Catnip?
- What are the Best Ways to Consume Catnip?
- How to Grow Catnip: Drying the Catnip Plant Leaves
- How to Grow Catnip – The Wrap-up
Catnip, or nepeta cataria, is native to Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and certain parts of China. Catnip plants can grow to be over two feet tall, even indoors. The plant produces a chemical called nepetalactone, responsible for attracting cats. The nepetalactone coats the leaves and stems of the plant. This chemical is why you will generally see a cat rubbing its face on the plant and acting obsessed. There are a few reasons why someone would be interested in how to grow catnip indoors, but it is typically because they have beloved family pet cats.
Catnip plants are perennial plants that have many different uses. The plant was first brought to America in the 1800s when humans historically smoked it. Although it is not recommended, smoking catnip has long since been a popular pastime. The best way to consume catnip if you are a human is in small doses in tea form.
Catnip was used for medicinal purposes during the eighteenth century, primarily used as an ointment for skin conditions or to treat headaches and excessive gas. Believe it or not, catnip is also an effective sedative. People think cats are attracted to catnip plants because of their scent, which is true since the nepetalactone smells like the pheromones of a cat of the opposite sex.
Why Do Cats Love Catnip?
Most cats will be a fan of growing catnip indoors; they will probably even love it. Cats will begin to display strange behavior if they have inhaled catnip, like pawing at different items in a room, rolling all over the floor, and cats will rub their bodies up against everything possible to share the catnip scents.
Catnip triggers a cat’s brain response that causes them to act this way. Nepetalactone, the chemical in catnip, mimics the scent of pheromones of cats, solely responsible for a cat’s love of catnip.
How to Grow Catnip Indoors
The best catnip is homemade if you really want to treat your cat. Why would you make homemade catnip? Cats prefer fresh catnip over dried catnip as the effects are more potent. Growing catnip indoors for your cat is a great way to pamper them and treat them like the royalty they are!
Growing catnip indoors is a very easy task to achieve. Growing catnip is safe and non-toxic to humans and pets. The plant is an aggressive grower, though, so it is best to give the catnip plant a lot of space to grow, especially if you plan to develop it for the long haul.
The effects of catnip on cats are rolling, rubbing, kicking, and zoning out and can last about ten to fifteen minutes from the time of contact with the plant. The more a cat inhales, the stronger the reaction it will have. Catnip can be used for fun or training, and some cat owners will put catnip on scratch posts to discourage their cats from scratching the furniture or other unwanted areas. Dried catnip does not contain as much of the chemical as fresh catnip, meaning if you want the full effects for your furry feline family members, then growing catnip indoors is a great idea.
How to Grow Catnip: Varieties to Grow Indoors
There are different varieties of catnip available that you can grow indoors. These varieties include:
- True catnip produces white flowers and grows to approximately 3 feet tall.
- Greek catnip has pale pink flowers and grows to 1 ½ feet tall.
- Camphor catnip produces white and purple flowers and grows to 1 ½ feet tall.
- Lemon catnip produces white and purple blooms and grows about 3 feet tall.
- Persian catnip has lavender flowers and grows to about 15 inches.
What Type of Soil is Best for Catnip Plants?
Catnip will grow in any soil type, but it is best to use well-draining soil to avoid root rot. Catnip plants can grow by planting seeds and by cutting the stems. The plant blooms tiny white flowers, and too much sunlight will slow the production of the catnip plant; moderate indirect sunlight in a well-draining soil will set your catnip plant up for success.
How to Grow Catnip: Propagating a Catnip Plant
To grow a catnip plant indoors, you want to take the stem cuttings or seeds and place them in a fresh pot of well-draining soil and follow up with watering two times a week at first. However, once the plant is well established, you can begin watering it every other week for continued growth. Like many other indoor plants, catnip plants do best when watered when the soil is dry a couple of inches beneath the surface. The plant will rot and die if it is overly saturated.
As the plant grows, don’t worry about giving your cat unlimited access to the catnip plant, as cats cannot overdose on catnip. Yet, even though overdose will not happen if your cat tends to bite off or eat sections of the plant, it may be best to keep it out of reach, at least until significant growth has occurred.
Catnip is part of the mint family. If you are familiar with propagating mint, catnip is just as easy to propagate. Other plants in the mint family are peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, and water mint. Care and propagation are similar to other mint plants.
What Are the Side Effects of Catnip?
Even though cats can’t overdose on catnip, cats can get very sick from consuming too much of it. Cats can also ruin your catnip plant by sitting in it, scratching it, chewing, and rubbing on it. It is best to put the plant in a hanging pot to avoid being destroyed. You can remove sections from time to time to treat your pet.
Humans can also consume catnip. Like cats, humans can get very sick from consuming too much catnip, and it is only beneficial in small doses. Side effects of eating catnip may include nausea, headache, vomiting, and stomach cramps. It is also not advisable to consume catnip if you are pregnant, as catnip can cause uterine contractions, leading to a potential miscarriage.
What are the Best Ways to Consume Catnip?
Cats inhale the scent of the catnip plant by rubbing their body and face over the plant. The question is, how do humans consume catnip? The answer is catnip tea.
To make catnip tea, you will want to:
1. Take 2 teaspoons of dried catnip leaves and combine with one cup of boiling water.
2. Stir the mixture until it is sufficiently combined.
3. Serve your catnip tea and enjoy!
You can also make catnip cat treats at home with your homegrown indoor catnip plant. All you will need is one teaspoon of dried catnip, two to three egg whites, and one can of well-drained tuna in oil.
To make homemade catnip cat treats:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Beat the egg whites together until they form stiff white peaks.
- Combine the egg whites, tuna, and dried catnip in a blender.
- Transfer your mixture into a piping bag to pipe out little ½ thick dollops onto a lined baking sheet.
- Bake your catnip treats for at least 20-25 minutes. Or until the catnip treats are dry enough to easily peel off the parchment paper.
How to Grow Catnip: Drying the Catnip Plant Leaves
Drying out catnip plant leaves is simple. The first thing you will want to do is preheat your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, place the freshly picked catnip plant leaves on a cookie tray. Finally, put the leaves in the oven and bake the leaves for ten minutes. Keep the oven door slightly open to provide ventilation, preventing burning.
Catnip has been around since at least the eighteenth century when it first came to America. Catnip, also known as nepeta cataria, has many different uses. Growing catnip indoors is an easy do-it-yourself task. Growing catnip indoors or any indoor plant will make you feel proud, as well as save you some money. If you have a catnip plant growing inside your home, you will be able to make catnip treats, catnip cakes, and catnip teas. You can even dry out the leaves of the catnip plant in your oven.
A human would eat catnip because catnip is said to have the same side effects as chamomile on humans. Chamomile is known to cause drowsiness and vomiting if taken in high quantities.
Pests and insects like mealybugs and whiteflies are common to catnip. Overly misting your plant can cause mold and plants to fester, so avoid over misting. If you happen to find any pests on your catnip plant, wash the plant’s leaves with mild soap and warm water.
Once the weather is consistently nice and any threat of frost is obsolete, then yes, you can move your catnip plant outdoors. Remember to bring it inside, though, at the end of the summer months to avoid damaging your plant.
When growing catnip indoors, you want to use a pot at least eight inches deep and eight inches wide. Since your cat will most likely be all over the plant, it is best to avoid using a pot made from breakable materials. Clay pots, ceramic, and other fragile pots will not make a suitable container for catnip since there is a good chance of your cat knocking the pot over.