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Vermont Garden Journal: Catmint

Peter M. Fredin

Nepeta or catmint is one of my favorite plants. Of course, one of its members, catnip, is a particular favorite of cats. If you're having trouble keeping your catnip or catmint plants alive in the garden consider the old saying, “If you set it, the cats will eat it. If you sow it, the cats don’t know it”. Cats seem to dismiss seeded catnip, but love the transplants. But enough about Felix, let's talk about the beauty of catmint for us!

Catmint is hardy, easy to grow and deer and rabbit proof. The grey green leaves yield white, pink, or lavender blue colored flowers in early summer. If you snip it back after flowering it will have another flush of flowers later in summer. The 2-foot tall plant's habit can be wild and floppy. So it grows well cascading over a wall, sprawling under a rose or filling in between other more well-manured perennials. Some newer varieties such as 'Cats' Meow' and 'Purrsian Blue' only grow 12 to 18 inches tall, stay more upright and have sterile seeds so they are less likely to become a weed in your garden.

Catmint thrives on neglect. Adding too much water, compost or fertilizer will result in lots of long, flimsy foliage with few flowers. You can divide the plants in early spring to make more catmints, but it isn't necessary. It will flower happily each year and slowly increase in size over time.

And now for this week's tip, it's time to prune your grapes. For grapes pruned to a single trunk on a wire trellis, tie a strong one year old branch to the wire on either side of the trunk and prune those canes back to 10 to 15 buds. Prune off all other branches coming off the trunk. The buds on these branches will produce fruit for your crop this year. Leave one small replacement branch with two buds on either side of the trunk for next year's canes.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about carrots. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Catnip and its Cousins
Nepeta Grape Pruning


Broadcast on Friday, April 11 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, April 13 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

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