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Is Catmint Invasive? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 02:50 pm

As a gardener, having catmints in your garden is a wonderful experience. From its luscious leaves to its fragrant flowers, there are many things to love about them.

Nevertheless, you may have other plants in your garden and wonder if it may be competition to them.

Hence, you may get worried that they may spread over others. What then is the truth?

Is Catmint invasive? Yes, catmint is invasive. Nevertheless, it takes a considerably long amount of time for the plant to spread around your garden. But this only happens when you don’t prune the plant or tame your garden regularly.

Does Catmint Spread Fast?

It takes about three weeks for untamed catmint to spread to other areas of your garden.

Although there are several species of catmint, all of them tend to propagate relatively slowly compared to creeping plants that grow like weeds.

However, they grow to impressive heights, so it is quite easy for them to spread to a reasonable radius.

One of the common types of catmint, the Six Hills Giant Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii), grows up to 35 inches tall and can be as wide as 36 inches.

So, this means that they can propagate to a relatively wider radius than you would expect plants too.

What Propagates Catmint?

You may wonder about what exactly spreads catmint around your garden even when you don’t transplant it.

It may even be annoying to know that it took much effort from you to get the stalk you transplanted or the seed you planted to grow well.

Meanwhile, it spreads to other unwanted regions without stress.

So, what exactly are the factors that make catmint spread?

1. Wind:

The wind is one very critical factor that propagates catmint. The seeds in catmint are relatively easy to disperse.

So, when your catmint matures, it won’t take long before its seeds are ready to be distributed.

Therefore, when the breeze blows on the seeds, they will fall off and spread to other areas. Finally, most of them will fall into good soil and begin to germinate from there.

2. Cats:

It’s common knowledge that cats are attracted to certain species of catmint. If this is the type you have, then it may be possible that a cat is spreading the catmint seed in your garden.

When a cat nibbles on the leaves or plays with the plant, it unknowingly disperses the seeds into the air.

And when they settle, it may step on them, burying them into the soil upon which they’ll germinate.

So, if you have a cat, it’s likely the reason catmint is growing in other areas of your garden.

3. Insects:

While cats can propagate catmint unconsciously, not all species attract them. But all species of catmint are fragrant, and this is a turn-on for bees and some other insects.

So, while pollinating the flowers of your catmint, bees could displace some seeds and spread them around your garden where they’ll grow.

4. You:

It may just be your fault that catmint is growing wildly in your garden. While you pluck some leaves from the catmint, some seeds could fall off and land on your clothing.

And as you move around your garden, they may fall off you and begin to get planted on the soil on which they’ll germinate.

5. Rain:

Last but not least is rain. As rain falls on your mature catmint, the water droplets may wash off some seeds and take them to other places in your farm where they can germinate.

So, rain may be spreading the catmint around your garden.

6. Rodents:

If there are rodents in your garden, then they could spread catmint seeds around.

Although most rodents don’t find catmint particularly attractive, they may be looking for food from other plants in your garden.

So, as rodents like rats and raccoons rummage through the place, they end up spreading seeds around. These seeds will eventually germinate where they settle.

Should You Plant Catmint in Your Garden?

Yes, you should plant catmint in your garden if you’d like to.

Below are some reasons why catmint is important in your garden.
1. Catmint adds fragrance to your home.
2. You can use catmint leaves as a spice.
3. The leaves from catmint are medicinal.
4. Catmint flowers are beautiful, so it makes your garden aesthetically pleasing.
5. It adds variety to your plant collection.

How Do You Stop Catmint from Spreading?

While catmint is good for you, it could be a problem in your garden if you leave it uncontrolled.

Unwanted catmint could compete with other plants in your garden for nutrients and space. This competition could eventually lead to poor performance or even the death of your plants.

Although this is relatively unlikely, it could happen.

Therefore, it would be best to take steps towards controlling the spread of catmint in your garden.

So, to curb the unwanted propagation of catmint in your garden, you should take the following steps.

1. Prune your catmint:

You can never underestimate the importance of pruning your catmint plants. As I have mentioned earlier in this article, your catmint can grow to impressive height and width.

So, if you prune your catmint, you reduce the potential areas to which it would spread.

2. Pick your catmint leaves regularly:

Although pruning is an option, it only works for you if you are rearing your catmint as an ornamental plant.

If you keep your catmint for spice, it would be best to pluck the mature leaves quickly to avoid budding around those areas.

Seeds typically grow in buds, and they could fall off from there. So, in picking your catmint, you are doing the other plants in your garden a huge favor.

3. Weed unwanted catmint:

As soon as you see catmint that you didn’t plant in your garden, it would be best to uproot them before they grow bigger.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of regularly weeding your garden. You will save yourself a whole lot of stress and spending if you do so.

4. Keep your cat indoors:

If you are growing the variety of catmint that attracts cats — Nepeta cataria it would be best to keep your cat away from the garden.

Your cat may figure out where the catmint is planted very quickly. And typically, I would have asked you to build a fence.

But cats can leap great heights, and so, it would be ineffective. So the best option would be to keep your cat indoors.

5. Get rid of rodent pests:

To avoid the incidence of rodents spreading catmint seeds around your garden, it would be best to get rid of them.

You could apply pesticide on bait to kill them, or you could set traps.

To be on the safer side, especially if you have pets, making a fortified fence around your garden would be best rather than using these harmful means.

Final Words

Catmint is an invasive plant. But it takes time to spread around your garden. Therefore, you shouldn’t quit growing it because of this characteristic.

The reason is that you would potentially lose more without them.

So, taking good care of your garden and following the steps I have given in this article will help you avoid an unwanted spread of catmint.


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