Although not a herb with a household name among human beings, catmint is—true to its name—widely favored among cats. Indeed, felines are drawn to the beauty and scent of this rare herb, which also has numerous medicinal and culinary purposes.
What to look for:
The perennial catmint herb, according to Botanical.Com, is popular in English gardens and has been mentioned frequently in popular European literature. This radiant herb boasts heart-shaped leaves and dense whorls of flowers colored lush ivory or delicate pink, sprinkled with vibrant red spots. It also bears a strong aromatic odor that adds to its overall appeal. No wonder the kitties seem to be drawn like magnets to this herb, which also manages to repel rats; another drawing point that makes catmint a valued addition to any garden. And gardeners themselves like the fact that this herb—particularly useful and attractive as a border plant—requires little moisture and virtually no upkeep. These useful herbs are long lasting under the effects of little or no attention, and bear seeds that can germinate for five years.
How Mother Nature loves it:
Catmint can be grown from seeds, early in the spring. It’s fairly easy to grow as it thrives in the sun or partial shade. Because it’s also drought and heat tolerant, it will grow well with minimal attention. It should be planted a few inches from other plants since it can be aggressive. A border or container will prevent it from taking over your entire garden.
Cut the leaves as soon as the flowers begin to bloom. The top leaves, stems and flowers can be used fresh, dried or frozen.
How to use it:
The herb is also useful in the kitchen, where it can be used to spice and season, and as a soothing additive for teas. Pure catmint is known as a stimulant, and is acknowledged in its purest form (when its stock is chewed) to be conducive to strong emotional reactions. The conscientious cook must remember, however, to always infuse—and not boil—catmint. And due to its strongly potent properties, catmint should be covered between the time of preparation and the occasion of serving.
Catmint, or at least its floral top, also can be used for healing purposes; catmint is known for being carminative, tonic, diaphoretic, refrigerant and emmenagogue, antispasmodic, and mildly stimulating. Catmint is useful in combating fevers and colds, especially when used in teas; indeed, a fever victim who consumes this tea will become drowsy and perspire—sweating and sleeping off their cold or flu.
Catmint also is effective in treating restless or colic-stricken children; catmint tea is even given through injection to colicy babies. It also treats other pediatric ailments, and is used to remedy a myriad of other disorders; ranging from nervousness to flatulence and even insanity. When used in tandem with other healing agents, it also has been known to treat small pox and scarlet fever.
Whether it’s used in the kitchen or the garden, or when stored away in the medicine cabinet for therapeutic purposes, catmint is an herb that is an essential addition to any home. If you keep a good supply of catmint on hand, every member of your family will thank you—and , in all likelihood, so will your cats!