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Pretty Plant is Also Functional

This article was first published on 19 Nov 2018.

Nepeta racemosa 'Superba'

Nepeta racemosa 'Superba'

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

If you’re looking for a versatile and low maintenance perennial you can’t go past the Nepeta genus.  Brightening the summer garden, they’re suitable for a wide range of growing conditions from a hot, sunny spot to a more damp location.

Commonly known as catnip or catmint, Nepeta belong to the mint family.  Many release an aromatic scent when the foliage is crushed which can attract cats and the more welcome visitors like bees and insects to the garden

A low maintenance plant, they still do benefit from a cut back after winter. Follow up with a trim after the first flowering to promote another flush of flowers. There’s no need to divide catmint as they will grow and flower for many years but if you would like more plants you can easily divide them in the spring.

Pale colours can complement other plants so lighter catmints look stunning as an underplanting with roses.  A sprawling growth habit makes them good for softening hard lines, whether cascading over rocks or edging garden borders.

At Dunedin Botanic Garden the darker blue flowering Nepeta racemosa 'Superba' (pictured) is planted repeatedly along the edge of the long herbaceous border at the gardens corner.  In the blue colour border is Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low', with an upright flowering habit and long spikes of deep violet to lilac blue flowers. In the rose garden species bed is the taller variety Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.