Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nepeta by Sharon Faircloth

Behold the “almost perfect” Nepeta, a member of the Lamiaceae family!   A bushy perennial, its common name is Catmint.  It is well suited to our mountain environment for a variety of reasons.  It’s not only ornamental; it has a pleasant fragrance and is easy to grow.

It blooms delicate long lasting blue flowers in late spring and then again in late summer so it’s almost continuously in bloom.  It has very pretty bluish gray leaves that remind me a bit of lavender, which I find much more challenging to grow.

Once established, it is quite drought tolerant when planted in full sun or partial shade.  It’s not particularly picky about the soil as long as it has good drainage.

The wild life we like to encourage in our gardens like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all attracted to the plant.  Even better -- deer and elk have no interest.  Catmint and yarrow are literally the only plants that elk have never touched in my yard. 

So, what’s the downside of the “almost perfect” Catmint?  As it gets bigger, it has a tendency to lie down.  You can be quite ruthless in cutting it back and it will rebound surprisingly quickly and bloom again.  It can also become invasive in small areas.

 As mountain gardeners, we are always experimenting.  We find exotic plants we love, that we wish would love us back and it often results in utter disappointment.  Here’s the plant that you can pretty much ignore and it will thrive in your neglect! 

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