It is no secret that cats love catnip. But have you tried giving them homegrown, fresh catnip? What about dried? Growing and drying your own catnip is super easy and can make for some very happy felines in your household! Here is how to do it:
Catnip is easiest grown from plants, and most garden centers will carry prestarted plants for you to use. However, you can also order and start catnip from seed. Catnip grows wonderfully in flower beds, where it blends in well with other plants. The catnip itself blooms with white or purple flowers. You can also plant it in pots. You can even grow it as a potted houseplant. Catnip is a perennial that blooms mid to late summer. Give it full sun. It is very hardy. As someone who at times seems to have a black thumb, I can tell you that it is hard to mess up growing catnip. When I used to plant it for my cats I gave it less care than is ideal and it came back year after year.
Learn more about growing catnip at the Bonnie Plants page.
Harvesting and Drying Catnip
Catnip can be given to your pets at any time, but it is strongest when it is flowering. Both the leaves and flowers can be given, and the stems are edible as well. While you can serve up catnip fresh to your cats, drying it is a great way to preserve it. Drying also allows for use of the catnip in homemade toys. There are three primary methods of drying:
1. Hang Drying: Simply cut a bunch of stems with leaves and flowers intact, bundle them together and hang them, flowers pointing down, in a cool, dark place. The plant will dry naturally and is ready to use when the leaves crumble.
2. Oven Drying: It is easy to dehydrate catnip in the oven. I used to put mine on trays and then I baked them at the lowest possible setting for several hours until they were dry and crumbling.
3. Dehydrating: If you have a dehydrator, simply spread leaves, flowers and stems on trays and dehydrate for 6-8 hours. There is no need to blanch the catnip first.
Store your dried catnip in plastic bags in a cool area. You can also freeze the dried catnip. Your catnip will be good for several months. It does lose its potency over time, so replace your dried stocks each growing season.
Learn more about harvesting, drying, and storing catnip at Gardens.com.
Given that growing, drying and storing catnip is so easy, why buy it? Go grab some plants or seeds and grow some treats for your cat today!