Cat mint is well known, as is its cousin catnip, for making adult cats ecstatic and kittenish. But cat mint leaves also make a calming tea, while the blue-lavender flowers and silvery foliage make a stunning contrast to other garden favorites such as roses. Cat mint can be grown from seed with little harassment from cats until the plant leaves are bruised, but transplants may need to be protected until they’re established.
Planting from Seed
Choose a spot in your garden with part to full sun and decent drainage. You may either sow seeds directly after the last danger of frost, or start seeds in pots or trays indoors.
Prepare the planting site with one or two parts compost to one part native soil. Spade this mix up to 12 inches into the soil.
Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/8 inch deep, about 2 inches apart. Cover with loose soil. Water gently so that the seeds are not disturbed, until the soil is moist several inches down.
Keep the top 2 inches of soil lightly moist until germination. After germination, provide 1 inch of water once per week when rain isn’t sufficient.
Thin to 12 inches apart. Transplant seedlings from indoors when they’re about 2 inches tall, after all danger of frost.
Transplanting Cat Mint
Prepare garden site as above. Dig a hole with a hand spade as deep as the root ball of the cat mint and twice as wide. Lay the container on its side and work the root ball gently out of the container, pressing on the sides if necessary. Loosen the roots at the bottom of the root ball.
Center the root ball in the prepared hole. Backfill with soil, watering in as you go to settle the soil and remove air pockets. Continue until the soil is even with the top of the root ball and the surrounding soil.
Mulch 2 inches deep around the cat mint with coarse compost or wood chips. Water this in as well. Don’t allow the mulch to sit on or against the leaves or stems.
Cover the new transplant with an inverted mesh container pressed about 2 inches into the surrounding soil to protect it from interested felines. Old laundry baskets generally suffice, so long as they don’t have a solid bottom. Light bruising from handling the cat mint attracts cats to your transplant.
Set up a cylinder of chicken wire or similar material around the new transplants if you don’t have a mesh or grate container. Bury the bottom end 6 inches deep for stability. This cylinder should be at least 2 feet tall to keep cats from reaching over it. A chicken wire cap on the top also helps. Use zip ties or twist ties to keep the cylinder closed and secure the top. Remove the covering after about two weeks, when the strong scent has faded.