This short article on catnips is dedicated to our cat in residence Lulu, who is very fond of flowering Nepeta. To mark her 11th birthday we are encouraging everyone to plant a nice patch of ‘nip. Buyers John and Griff say that “God-willing and the spittle bugs don’t rise” we will be carrying these varieties and more at Berkeley Hort. this season:

Nepeta racemosa ‘Walkers Low’
This low-growing variety only gets to about 2 ft. high. Spikes of lavender blue flowers rise above the soft, quilted leaves. Cats love it!

Nepeta x faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’
This ‘nip is a soft lavender blue, like the other varieties of the Faassen’s Catnip, but it is distinctly larger, to about 3 feet tall and equally wide. To wade through a bee-loud glade of this giant ‘nip, plant in any well-drained sunny or lightly shaded spot with adequate irrigation during dry spells.

Nepeta x faassenii ‘Dropmore’
‘Dropmore’ blooms bright lavender-blue, and is half the height, or less, of its cousin ‘Six Hills Giant’. Its foliage is a bit greener than that of most catnips. Cut back after the first flush of bloom to encourage continued flowering. This one is great in containers, and also makes nice curtains for the knobby ankles of hybrid tea and other roses.

Nepeta sibirica ‘Blue Beauty’
Siberian Catmint is violet-blue in flower and, as its name suggests, is suited for cold climates where N. x faassenii might be less likely to survive the winter. Like other catnips, this one blooms well into fall, but looks a bit better than the others towards the end of the season since its stems are less lax than those of Nepeta x faassenii varieties. Known in Europe and sold here sometimes as ‘Souvenir d’André Chaudron’. Great for cutting!

The main things to remember about the needs of most ‘nips is that they require what most felines adore: sun, not too much water, and well-drained soil (though it needn’t be as well-draining as litter). Unlike Lulu, they require very little food, and appreciate hard pruning in late spring.