Like most plants in the mint family, catnip is vigorous, strong and aggressive. There are few pest issues or catnip diseases that will seriously affect the plant's health. That means it can be hard to determine the causes if you have dying catnip plants. They can take quite a lot of abuse in the form of overly interested neighborhood felines. However, if your plant looks sick, fungal issues are probably the most common diseases of catnip.
Is My Catnip Sick?
Catnip is probably one of the easier herbs to grow. In fact, they thrive in low nutrient soil, are drought tolerant when established and reliably come back in spring even after the harshest winter. So why would you have dying catnip plants? If they haven't been loved to death by your local alley cats, the problem may be fungal or viral. Problems with catnip are usually related to site and conditions, and can be easily prevented. Catnip is generally fast growing and has strong rigid stems that are tolerant of the vigorous rubbing by amorous cats. Hardly anything bothers this adaptable herb except too little light and boggy soil conditions. If your catnip is exhibiting foliage problems, malformed twigs and stems, and even entire stems that rot out of the soil, you may be facing a fungal disease. Too much shade, excess water, crowded plants, overhead watering and clay soils are some of the conditions that promote disease spread of any type. Check your site conditions and make sure plants are in freely draining soil, sun and do not water when plants have no time to dry before sundown.
Fungal Catnip Diseases
Cercospora is a very common fungus on all types of plants. It causes leaf drop and can be recognized by haloed, yellow spots that darken as they age. Septoria leaf spots occur in closely planted plots during rainy periods. The disease develops as gray spots with dark margins. As the spores multiply, the leaf is suffocated and drops. Many types of root rot can cause problems with catnip. They can be hard to spot until the stems rot out of the soil but, generally, the girdling of the roots will slowly kill the leaves and stems. Correct cultural care and siting can help minimize each of these. An organic copper fungicide applied in early spring is also beneficial.
Viral and Bacterial Diseases of Catnip
Bacterial leaf spot appears first on the leaves. Spots are translucent with yellow halos and darken with irregular red centers. This disease flourishes in cool, wet weather. Avoid working around plants when they are wet, as this can spread the bacteria. In severe cases, the plants need to be removed and destroyed. Practice crop rotation with any mint family member. There are several types of virus but, overall, they cause mottled distorted leaves. Young plants are jaundiced and may become stunted. A virus normally spreads by handling, although some insects may also be carriers. Make sure to wash your hands if touching a catnip plant and keep beds clean and pest free.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
5 Budget-Friendly Ways To Reinvigorate Garden Soil – To Grow Better, Healthier Plants
Improve and condition your soil with these clever solutions that are simple, sustainable, and cost almost nothing. You will soon reap the rewards with lush foliage, abundant flowers, and delicious crops.
By Melanie Griffiths
Which Types Of Wood To Use For Growing Fungi
Wondering about the best logs for mushroom plugs? Match the mushroom type to the tree variety for a great crop of delicious mushrooms.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Catnip Winter Care – Is Catnip Winter Hardy
Even if you don’t have cats, catnip is a perennial herb that is easy to grow and attracts bees and other pollinators. You can even make a tasty and stomach-soothing tea from it. Depending on where you live, winter can be a little harsh on your catnip, so learn how to protect it here.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Cutting Back Catnip: Should I Prune Catnip Plants
Catnip is a no-fuss, easy-to-grow member of the mint family that requires little maintenance. What about pruning catnip plants though? Is cutting back catnip necessary? Click here to find out about pruning catnip plants and, if need be, how to prune catnip.
By Amy Grant
Planting Catnip For Cats: How To Grow Catnip For Cat Use
If you have cats, then you are more than likely to have given them catnip or have toys for them that contain catnip. As much as your cat appreciates this, he/she would love you even more if you provided them with fresh catnip. Learn about planting catnip for cats here.
By Amy Grant
Catnip Propagation Methods – Tips For Growing New Catnip Herb Plants
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 plants is easy. Click on the following article to find out about catnip propagation.
By Amy Grant
What Is Catnip For: Learn About Various Uses For Catnip
The name says it all, or almost all. Catnip is a common herb that you can cultivate in the garden but that also grows wild. Knowing how to use catnip means you can put this plentiful herb to good use for both you and your feline friends. Learn more in this article.
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Catnip Plant Varieties: Growing Different Species Of Nepeta
Catnip is a member of the mint family. There are several types of catnip, each easy to grow, vigorous and attractive. Learn more about the various types of catnip plants that you can add to your garden here in this article.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Dogs And Catnip – Is Catnip Bad For Dogs
Cats and dogs are opposite in so many ways that it is no surprise that they react differently to catnip. While cats delight in the herb, rolling in it and becoming almost giddy, dogs do not. So is catnip bad for dogs? Can dogs eat catnip? Find out in this article.
By Teo Spengler
Catnip And Insects – How To Fight Catnip Pests In The Garden
The plants are generally trouble-free, and when it comes to catnip, pest problems generally aren’t much of a problem. Click on this article for information on a few common catnip plant pests, along with some helpful tips on catnip as a pest repellent.
By Mary H. Dyer