Monday, February 11, 2013

The Cat's Meow: Working with Nepetas

Nepetas (common name Catmint) are zone hearty, drought tolerant, disease resistant, and easy to grow. Nepetas are vigorous but won't take over and work equally well in formal design and farm garden. 

Nepeta Cataria is the true catnip which drives house cats ecstatic.  It is one of the less showy varieties for garden design.  

Nepeta Racemosa "Walker's Low" is a stunner and by far my favorite Nepeta.  Named for an garden in Ireland, not for a low growing habit, this perennial grows to an impressive three feet by three feet.  Zone three hearty, as long as Walkers Low receives adequate sunlight, it will thrive.  When cut back this Nepeta will bloom all season long attracting bees and butterfly as well as neighbor's compliments.  I have found this plant to be an great substitute for Lavender which can be more fussy to soil conditions and cold, especially away from the lakes.  Walker's Low was 2007's perennial of the year.  You simply can't go wrong.   

Nepeta Racemosa"Walkers Low" 

To duplicate: Nepeta "Walkers Low", Leucanthemum x Superbum "Becky", Salvia "May Night"

This entire bed would be low maintenance, drought tolerant, and for the most part deer tolerant.  (They do not like the intense fragrance of "Walker's Low") 

Calamintha Nepeta ssp "Nepeta" As you can see by the name, this is not a nepeta, but in the Calamintha or mint family.  If you are running for your round-up, stop!  This gorgeous variety is not invasive or extremely aggressive which makes it an excellent choice for almost any garden.  I absolutely love this fragrant, long blooming mint.  White flowers appear in early June and last until frost.  Honeybees make an outstanding appearance and on cool nights the flower turns a light lavender.     

Planting suggestion: 50% Calamintha Nepeta ssp Nepeta, 40% Rudbeckia "Little Suzy" or "Goldsturm", 10% Calamagrotis x acutiflora "Feather Reed Grass" 

Again, this mix is drought tolerant and essentially maintenance free once established.    

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