Newbie question: Walkers Low catmint

ourhappyhome(7B)March 19, 2013

Hi,
I'm new to the Perennial forum, but not so new to Gardenweb. I wander around here occasionally to see what I can learn.

Fields of lavendar are so beautiful and calming. I Absolutely love them. They are rare here in Georgia however. I did some research and discovered that lavendar is not so easy to grow here in Georgia. Instead, I found Catmint, Walkers Low. What I want are seeds, but since I can't find any, I am comsidering 3inch plants from American Meadows. The problem is the price. They are $9.99 each! Is it me or is that outrageous? I'm desperate though. I will spend the money for a single plant if I have to. The question is, do I have to? Does anyone know of another source for plants or seeds? I am in love with the color, fullness and size of Walkers Low. Plants seem to be covered with blooms and very lush compared to other cultivars. I'd eventually like to have a large border. I was considering 'blue carpet' because seeds are available everywhere, but the plants seem more blue than lavender and that's not what I want. Thank you so much for your help.

April

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torajima

Walkers Low is pretty popular, so you should be able to buy large pots at your big box hardware stores for around $5 or $6.

And Swallowtail Gardens has various catmint seeds, just not Walkers Low.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:34AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Re Blue Carpet comment - the plants seem more blue than lavender
Blue and purple shades photograph poorly, so if the shade is particularly important, try to find the plants in person and in bloom to be sure of what you are getting. Also, some companies retouch their photos in blue/purple shades, so unless you actually see the plant, you won't be sure of the color.

As Torajima said, Walker's Low is popular enough so that you most probably can get it locally. Catmint roots easily where stems touch the ground, so creating many more from a few original plants shouldn't be difficult. However, if you can't find it locally for some reason, before ordering online, check with the Garden Watchdog to see the company's reputation. There is also the PlantScout on the same site which will allow you to find other companies which carry Walker's Low so you can find a company with a better price and/or reputation.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:55AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hi.. welcome here ...

this has been discussed many times.. you might want to try the GW search .....

mint is fairly aggressive.. you should be able to buy one or two.. and propagate a hundred by next year .... frankly ....i dont even know why you would want to mess with seed ...

most mints will root fast in water..or.. if you had a small propagation bed where you coudl kepe them moist ...... many will root if you just cut a small piece and stick it in the ground.. though i have no experience with this one in particular.. anyone want to argue this point???

but all that said.. i dont know how easy they will be in z10 ... and if they do NOT sell them locally.. as others suggest.. that might be an answer ...

lavender is a very romantic plant .. hard to grow for many of us [though there are a few of us who succeed wildly] .. on the other hand.. mint is an invasive weed in my garden ... using the term descriptively .... rather than scientifically .... i dont know who the heck plants them all.. but i kill thousands of mint per year ... lol ... [i think the cat is messing with me.. lol] .... which leads me to the thought that fields of things are pretty.. but not always what you might want.. in a smaller garden .... i would suggest you try one or two.. before you go buying a 5 pound bag of seed and regretting it for decades ... unless of course.. you have the fields you mention .... and not some little cottage garden ....

ken

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:33AM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

'Walker's Low' doesn't produce seeds. You can root cuttings by just ripping out stalks and putting in the ground. I've rooted them in full sun often. Lowes sells these in gallon pots every Spring. They are usuall less than 10 dollars.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:50PM
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gazania_gw

Sorry, I have to disagree with ken_adrian. Although Nepeta is related to true mints, they are not agressive. It is rare to find any seedlings or signs that any of my Walkers Low and other Nepetas have spread underground. I will say the Walkers Low will fill in a large area. That little 1 foot plant emerging in spring will grow and become a 3 to 4 foot low mound in a few weeks. I don't think I would use it in a narrow border.

The pic shows 2 Walkers Low on each side of the smaller yellowish mound in mid April last year. Those plants have been in that spot for 4 years.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:54PM
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gazania_gw

Here is a pic showing the Walkers on the right in the previous pic just a month later. It has just about swallowed up that little yellowish plant, and will bury it in another few days. The name Walkers 'low' does not refer to height. It's stems can be as long as 3 feet, but they lie open from the center making the plant appear about 18 inches in height.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:20PM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Thanks to everyone. I'm learning so much!

Gazania, Oh how lovely. If the plant is not as invasive as other mints, then its exactly what I've been looking for.

I went out this morning and stopped at Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart. No catmint but Plenty of Lavender. Large 1 gallon pots at lowes and 4 inch pots at Walmart. Maybe I should try some. Will it fill out like Walkers Low?

I am actually in zone 7b in central Georgia. It may be a little early for catmint here. Most of our perennials are just showing up in stores. Guess I'll wait a few days and try again. I am really glad to know its not invasive and easy to propagate. Thanks again everyone. The help I've received is just priceless.

Blessings
April

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 4:21PM
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garden_crazy(z5 N IL)

WL grows fast for me, 4' wide by the end of it's third year. -A bit awkward to divide: semi-woody crown, but a tough plant. A nursery plant could be halved, hence two 4 one. Community or garden club plant sales often have good prices, especially on more common plants.
gc

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 4:30PM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

There is a smaller version of 'Walker's Low' called 'Junior Walker' too.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

Keep an eye out for stores like Menards. They had pots for $2.50 and plugs for a dollar last spring. Nepeta is so easy to multiply in spring cut some stems off and stick short pieces of them in the ground. They'll grow roots and flourish. I do this every spring since many don't live thru wet winters. All it takes is one plant and I can have them any where I'd like. Pat

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:46PM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

What kind store is menards? I can't tell you how often that store has been recommended for various items. We don't have them in my part of the country but I wish we did. Are they a big box store?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:19PM
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ilovemyroses(8 Dallas TX)

surely you have a local nursery other than the big box stores??? I don't see them in Dallas YET at the bbs, but they are at nurseries. I rely on this plant ALOT. great perennial. i will try rooting as others have said. and too, the lavendar will grow, just don't water it much if at all, no sprinkler system, grow in full sun, and great drainage, and enhance the soil with lava sand or expanded shale.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:42AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

menards is a regional lowes ... walmart for the builder set.. lol ...

what i learned.. since i gave up lavender.. is that drainage is the issue.. and i think winter drainage is the key ... you can rot the roots off of it faster than.. well .... i dont know what.. lol ... and when i think GA.. i think clay.. and i think.. drainage issues ....

it is a very hard plant to grow.. very unforgiving ... and i keep repeating this.. as you said you were new to perennials ... as i read your comment ...

dont let me stop you.. just dont fret .. if you fail .. like 95% of us did ..

and now.. i will stop repeating myself.. have fun in the garden this season... and in your happy home ....

ken

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:05AM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Ken_adrian, such encouraging words. And you are exactly right about Georgia soil.. Clay, clay and more red clay.

Ilovemyroses, thank you for the growing tips. I have found catmint at a family owned nursery though they are not able to name the variety. I am trying to decide whether to take the trip, Two hours round trip, or just buy the plants online. I did find plants online for a good price thanks to nhbabs and Plantscout.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:39PM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Just called the nursery to verify before leaving. They do not have it in yet! Don't you just hate when things like this happen. I called last night and was told "yes, we have it," but today I call and they don't have it yet. The place is an hour away. Ugh! The good news is, I didn't waist all that time and gas.

Folks, I'm going to place an order today online. I think the plants will eventually appear, but I'm growing impatient. Since I now know they are so easy to reproduce, I will buy just a few plants. Thanks so much for all help.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:50PM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

April, don't forget that you can try lavender from seed too. If you spend a couple bucks on seed and potting soil and the plants don't make it, you'll be out less money than if you bought plants. It does wintersow well. "Lady" lavender is supposed to bloom the first year from seed but never has for me even with an early start indoors. Might for you, since you have a longer growing season. Lavender wants gritty soil - rocky and/or sandy. The famous Georgia clay would kill it. Lavender also needs alkaline soil. Catmint is much more forgiving.

I have 15 "Walker's Low." The bees and I love this plant. I bought all of them during October clearance sales two years ago at Lowes. Bigger than 3" pots too. I think they were gallon pots. I paid $1 each for the first batch and 50 cents each for the second batch. Original price was $4 per plant. If you can stand to wait that long, you may be able to buy at a deep discount. Shopping for gardens requires as much patience as the actual gardening. The big box stores get new plants in every week and won't have catmint until summer. They try to only have flowering plants in stock while they're in bloom or about to bloom. The box stores here just started to get outdoor plants in and so far they only have potted daffodils and tulips. My favorite local nursery won't even open until next month.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:16AM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Edie, I'm beginning to understand how bb stores work. Thanks for the tips. I'm sure our stores follow the same procedures. I know I've seen the catmint and while I'm definitely not willing to wait til summer, I may pick up a few more plants then. I have 4 plants on order which should arrive in a few days. I bought 4 inch pots. Do you think I can divide them and still have good sized plants by summer? I have an area, 4 by 8 that I'd like to fill as well as a narrow border, 12 inches by 12 feet. How many plants are needed for this area? I know four will not be enough.

Lavender sounds like soo much trouble. I don't think I want to bother with it but thanks for the seed idea.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 1:49PM
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miblea

Hi OHH,
Try greatgardenplants.com. I bought 1qt. pots of Nepeta Walker's Low and the plants were excellent. They were well worth the price. I qt. pots, plants were received full, healthy and green(at least 6" tall), in quality soil, and they took off the same year I planted them. I even left them on the porch where the sprinkler could reach for a week and went out of town before planting them. The price per piece slides down the more you buy. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:28PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

I did the same as Edie. Got mine on clearance from Lowes' end of season in gallon pot and don't even think I planted it until the next spring. Whatever the case, it looked dead, I didn't know what it was aside from the tag but bought it anyway, because like you...I was just starting out. AND -- was on a budget so HAD to buy clearance.

It really took off the first year and by the 2nd or 3rd, I had to divide it (mine was in narrow raised bed aside my walkway and it was spilling over it too much...otherwise I'd have left it alone).

So I'm sure if you waited until they are available at BB stores, you will still get plenty of bloom by mid summer.

And I do not find it to be a difficult plant at all and I'm not a real knowledgable gardener. I don't baby it or do anything special. In fact, it seems to be the one I can count on when the others are looking a bit sad. As another poster said, the bees simply LOVE it so I count on it for that.

And if this is any help, I live near the beach in VA. You'd think "sandy soil" but it's not. Most of the soil around here has about maybe 6" of topsoil put down by builders ages and ages ago, but under that there is what I call clay (maybe not the same as yours). It's grey and sometimes orange and moldable when wet.

The raised bed I planted it in consisted of it being tilled down about a foot, which churned up some clay and mixed it with the old soil. Once two levels of timbers were down I filled it with bagged garden soil... about 6" worth.

My point is, for what's it worth -- when I dig stuff up to transplant, once I get down past that 6" of good soil, I am digging into that 'clay' stuff, yet the Walkers Low does just fine with setting roots into that.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:18PM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Bonnie, that clearance rack can get you into trouble. I've been to lowes twice in the past week and each time, I've come home with an irresistible bargain THAT I DID NOT NEED. LoL. Thanks so much for the advice.

I'm glad to know they will grow in any soil because the soil I'm planting in is Yuck! Dry, red clay. Our clay makes bricks when exposed to the elements. I've tried other plants before and zinnia is the plant that survived. Walkers Low, if it survives our soil and heat, will make my neighbors envious. I can't wait til my order arrives!

I will keep an eye on that clearance rack!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 4:48PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

April...Yep, it sure can get you into trouble. I've done the very same thing MANY TIMES!!! LOL!

I don't have that many varieties of plants yet, but have to say it is probably my favorite (second to my daylillies) due to the abundance of color and buds for the bees. 7

And although I think someone mentioned not to over water... I found that mine loves regular waterings, although that may well be due to the fact that it is planted in kinda shallow good soil with that yucky clay beneath (and I do keep the bed mulched).

I will measure my bed tomorrow and post info as well as a pic of plant so you can see how much it grew first year so you can get a general idea of how many you will need.

PS - Just my opinion, but if you want big plants this year, I don't think I would divide the 4 inch pots.

Best of luck & happy gardening!
Bonnie

This post was edited by brit5467 on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 0:38

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

I've got clay here too. Acid clay. In a wetland area. The opposite of what lavender demands. That's why I snapped up the catmint when I saw them on the "needs TLC" rack. They are as close to indestructible as live plants get. I have yet to divide any of them. But I moved a few last July, during our drought, the worst possible timing. They looked limp for about a week, long enough for me to say "what have I done?" Then they perked up again and were fine. They have all popped up again and are making fresh growth, so I know even the relocated ones survived winter. By the way, the leaves and flowers can be used to make tea. Fresh or dried, but only use unsprayed plants. Tastes just like it smells.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 3:21AM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Edie,
Wow, these plants are tough! They sound perfect for a newbie like me. I've purchased a few soil amendments like manure, vermiculite and bagged compost. That should help. When I think of NY, I always imagine nice, loamy soil. Maybe because that's what I had when I lived up North years ago. Boy do I miss it! I've also purchased a few sick plants from the lowes clearance rack to interplanet in my bed (4 cosmos, 12 butterfly daisies and two very large spreading phlox). This will be a work in progress. I am a poor designer and will need help organizing the bed. Pray for me!

I am also very glad to hear that I can use the leaves and flowers in tea. Mint tea is my favorite.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:28AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Hi April ! As I promised - this is so you can get an idea of how many you may need.The width of bed
is 33" (soil area 26"W). This is only after one year. The first year it was nearly just as big.

5/19/2011

The next pic is last spring after dividing into thirds and replanting 1/3 of it. The darker area on the
timbers that looks 'wet' is actually where it spilled over the year before and protected the wood from
sun bleaching. Pretty huge, which is why I divided it. Figured it would outgrow the bed if I didn't.

3/12/2012

Next is 2 months later. It got pretty beat up when dividing (like someone else said, it's real woody)
so am guessing that's why it didn't come in as big as the year before (first and last pics are taken
exactly one year apart).

5/19/2012

This year, I already have plenty of new growth so looking forward to seeing it huge again...lol.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:01PM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Bonnie- LOVELY! I am in love with this perennial. How big was the original plant? 4 inch pot, quart? That is amazing growth for one year. Aside from the blooms, the plants base still looks the same even after dividing it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:11PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

No April...unfortunately (since I know you bought 4") it was a quart size. But bear in mind, it looked dead and pitiful....so maybe the fact that yours are going to be healthy will make up for that !! LOL

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:37PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm amazed to hear everyone comment on how difficult it is to grow lavender. I've been growing it my entire gardening life, and it's always one I took for granted as guaranteed to grow when nothing else will. Whether it was from seed, transplants, or spindly leftovers at the end of the season, lavender has always done well for me. It usually more than doubles in size each year. I give it a serious trim every spring just as the new growth is starting to show on the woody stems. I do try to put it where it will get as much sun as possible, and the ignore it. No extra water, no fertilizer, and it grows like a weed. Now, watch. Now that I'm aware that it can be a challenge, all my year-old seedlings from last year will fail to return this spring. Murphy's rule. Well, good luck to all of you.

Martha

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:56PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

You are so lucky, Martha. I, too, am one who had no luck with it. Paid full price, planted it and it didn't even make it thru the summer.

Do you/did you do anything special with your soil? What kind do you have? Maybe that's the key. Back when I got mine, I remember reading 'something' about putting sand in the bottom of the hole because it didn't like wet feet (??) I didn't do that, but just sayin....lol.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:56PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I've grown lavender in several different soils. Right now I have sandy soil, which should be perfect. But I've grown it in clay as well. All I ever do to my soil is mulch with leaves collected in the fall. I use the leaves to smother the grass and then plant into the bed. Worms do the tilling and draining for me.

Martha

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:36AM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Maybe Martha has an amazing green thumb :-). Martha, how many plants do you have now? Are they planted together or mixed in a perennial bed?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:14AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Lavender does not like acidic soil. Aside from that, it can handle neutral sand, neutral clay, neutral clay and floods.... It really isn't at all fussy about soil type or watering.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:08AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

She must !!!! (have amazing green thumb...lol. :-) Martha..Do you by chance have any pictures?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:14AM
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ourhappyhome(7B)

Such cute little plants. They arrived yesterday and are now in my wee green house. Hard to imagine the much larger plants in the photos. How long before mine reach that size?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 5:50PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Hi OHH...just wondering how your babies are doing? (smile)

Bonnie

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:30PM
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