Vigorous, spreading members of the mint family with aromatic foliage. With the exception of catnip (N. cataria), these plants are valuable for their spikes of two-lipped blue or blue-violet (or sometimes pink, white, or yellow) flowers. As soon as blossoms fade, shear the plants back by half or cut faded flower stems to the ground to encourage rebloom. (Most species seed freely and can become invasive if spent flowers are not removed.)
Plants make attractive, informal low hedges or edgings. In winter or early spring, cut out last year’s growth to make way for new stems. At that time, you can also divide clumps for increase, though it’s easy to start new plants from cuttings (take them before flower buds form). When buying named varieties, be sure to obtain cutting-grown plants; seedlings vary in flower color and habit. In cold-winter climates, nepetas are occasionally used as a substitute for lavender (Lavandula) in borders and edgings. Most species resent heat combined with high humidity. In desert Zones 12 and 13, most are best treated as winter annuals. They tolerate regular moisture if the soil is well drained.Nepeta racemosa
Native to the Caucasus, Turkey, and Iran. Sprawling plant grows from 6 in. to 1 ft. high and about 2 ft. or more wide. Roundish, scallop-edged leaves can range in shades from medium green to gray-green; they are covered with fine hairs. The typical form produces 1⁄3-in.-long lavender flowers for a short period in midsummer; may rebloom if sheared. Reseeds prodigiously. Inferior to its hybrid N. x faassenii, but several worthwhile selections are more compact than the species and bloom over a longer period. ‘Blue Ice’ has dense gray-green foliage and pale blue flowers that fade to near-white. ‘Superba’ has a dense, matlike habit and gray-green leaves that are smaller than those of the species; it bears lavender-blue blossoms from spring through fall. ‘Walker’s Low’ grows 2–3 ft. high and has vivid lavender-blue flowers (sometimes sold as N. x faassenii).
European native for rock gardens or naturalizing. In bulb and leaf, resembles small hyacinth, but 10-i...
Grows to 2 ft. tall. Smooth deep green leaves with yellow variegation have a spicy apple fragrance and...
Low foliage mounds about a foot wide. Flower stems, 1–2 ft. topped with white blossoms in summer...