Catnip Propagation Methods – Tips For Growing New Catnip Herb Plants

(Image credit: Attila Fedyk)

Does kitty love her catnip toys? Well then, perhaps you should grow your own catnip herb plants. Don’t know how to propagate catnip? Growing new catnip is easy. Read on to find out about catnip propagation.

About Catnip Herb Plants

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is an herbaceous perennial that is native to Eurasia but has become widely naturalized in temperate areas of the world. It is hardy to USDA zones 3-9 and hails from the mint, Lamiaceae, family. Catnip contains high levels of terpenoid nepetalactone in its essential oil. This is the stuff that drives kitty wild. Humans are generally not as receptive to the oil, or at least to its aroma, and variously describe it as a combination of thyme and oregano, or downright skunky. It does, however, have some useful attributes other than entertaining the cat. It has been found to be an effective natural insect repellent, specifically for mosquitoes, and can be used either fresh or dried to brew herbal tea. Catnip grows to around 3-4 feet (about a meter) in height with light green, downy foliage accompanied by tiny lavender blooms that grow on spikes.

How to Propagate Catnip

Catnip propagation can be accomplished in a few ways. Of course, there is propagation via catnip seed planting, but also by stem cuttings and division.


To propagate via seed, either purchase seed or harvest from dried flower stalks on an existing plant. Sow seed in the late fall or early in the spring in well-draining moderately rich loam. Lightly cover them with soil. When they are tall enough, thin them so they are a 12-18 inches (30-46 cm.) apart. Seed planting can occur indoors as well and then transplanted outdoors after all chance of frost has passed for your region.


Of course, if you have existing catnip herb plants, the easiest method of propagation is to divide the roots. Dig up the plant, shake off the excess dirt, and then use sharp shears or a hori hori to cut through the plant to divide it. Replant the separate sections and, voila, you are easily growing new catnip plants.


The last method of catnip propagation is to take a cutting of new growth early in the growing season. Plant the cutting in a pot of sterile soil and keep it moist and in filtered light until new growth appears. If you want to expedite growth, dip the cutting in some growth hormone prior to planting it.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.