May 24, 2019

Feline Fancy


Faith Pineo Photo - Nepeta, commonly called catmint

Nothing matches the stunning show put on by a mature planting of catmint. Nepeta is an easy perennial here in Maine, providing a long bloom time and filling the garden with drifts of flowers that attract pollinators. They also attract cats, who will either ignore the plants completely, gently curl up amongst the greenery or run the whole thing down like a steam shovel. Fortunately, mature plants can take the abuse; it’s the gardener who suffers the temporary destruction. Catmint, which is also known as catnip, can grow to 3 feet tall with a spread nearly as wide. So what is it in catmint that drives cats wild? Nepetalactone. The substance binds itself to the receptors in the cat’s nose, which results in temporary “euphoria.” Just call them cat crazies.