Montana Gardening: Cat Mint is Your Gorgeous Perennial
If you're needing some ground cover and some color in your Montana garden, there is nothing easier to grow than Cat Mint.
Trust me on this: this is the easiest plant I have at my house, requiring very little water or attention no matter what the time of year. It comes back every spring without fail.
According to Wikipedia:
Nepeta is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The genus name is reportedly in reference to Nepete, an ancient Etruscan city.
There are about 250 species. The genus is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and has also naturalized in North America.
This beauty has long, bright purple spears of flowers that bloom pretty much all summer long. The greenery is vibrant and looks like mint, hence the nickname.
Also nice, once purchased in a relatively small 4-inch or 6-inch pot, this perennial will grow larger with each passing year. (So plant them in a location where they can spread a bit.) They are NOT as aggressive as normal mint, but they can (almost) double in size every year.
Cat mint is widely available across Montana and is very low maintenance. Once you've got a few planted, you're done. I have found that they need next to no attention, other than a little water the first few years they're in the ground. Seriously...that's it.
In late fall, after the flowers and greenery have faded, you can trim the plant back as much as you want. Not once have I angered it to the point of it not coming back. When it is dormant over the winter, the stalks will look like grey sticks...dead almost. It's not!
Rest assured, this hearty plant will burst on the scene next spring with fresh, green foliage. If during the growing season it becomes larger than you like, you can easily cut off stalks for bouquets or simply trim them back.
And yes, cats do like this plant. It's fine if you find your feline chomping on a few leaves or laying on the entire plant. My cat made himself quite at home right in the middle of the plants. They bounce back quickly if you find your cat mint used as a bed.
We're all busy people but it's really nice to have something beautiful in your yard that needs almost no attention. The next time you find yourself at a nursery, give a couple of these a try. For reference, mine are on the west side of the building and get only afternoon sun. They seem to love it.