Pruning Low Walker's Catmint now???

brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)April 19, 2011

I have this in my raised bed and don't want it to overshadow my other plants. Last year was its first summer and it spread out quite a bit but didn't get that tall. I just kept it in check by pruning out the lower longer parts. But this year it's ALREADY grown a lot taller than I'd like and I'd hate to think how big it will get by mid-summer. It's already overshadowing the plants behind it.

If I prune the top now, will it grow more blooms? Or should I just live with the height and prune it later when it starts splaying out in the middle (which it did much later in the season last year)?

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I prune it hard after it blooms and mine is just now starting to bloom.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:18PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

But what would happen if I pruned it now, prior to blooming? Will it get more blooms? I don't want to lose all that beautiful color, but also don't want it overtaking my bed like "The Blob"...LOL

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:49PM
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melaroma(6)

I iust prunned mine to keep them in check and there werent any signs of blooms yet. This will only delay the blooms a bit.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:38AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Can you look at my pic? See all the little white things which look like blooms?

I guess what I'm asking is -- is this the type plant that will grow new blooms if you cut them off NOW??? Or is it like an Indian Hawthorne (I know that's a bush and not a plant...just an example) that when I pruned it this time last year, I lost all the blooms.

Simply stated - can I prune it now and still get blooms thru out the summer? I know that it DID bloom for me all thru the summer last year when I basically left it alone.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:55AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Yes, it will still bloom only later. I think if you are having this problem though, you should move it. It does get big and sprawly and that's just part of it's characteristics.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:11AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You will have blooms later if you prune now. Long-term, though, can you consider moving it to a bigger spot where it can be all it wants to be? Hate to see you fighting that gorgeous plant all summer (and summers to come.)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:13AM
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echinaceamaniac(7)

This is a plant that is awesome around roses. It sounds like you planted it too close to smaller plants. Walker's Low is very easily moved. The plant can be dug and moved, even in July. If you think it's too wide, you can rip out branches one by one to clean it up some. These can be stuck directly in another place and will root within days. I never prune mine. I just remove the dead foliage when it dies in the winter. It blooms over and over. Even if you prune it now it'll still bloom. I predict it'll bloom in a matter of weeks after pruning.

I think the name "Walker's Low" makes people think these are compact plants. However, their appeal to me is the foliage, blooms and their toughness. They complement everything around them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:09PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Thanks to all. I agree...the name is misleading and it IS gorgeous. Mine gets so lush. And I did plant it in an area too small for it. But I love the effect of it trailing over both sides of my bed and hate to move it just now.

Can I divide it now? Then I could leave 1/3 of it in place and put the rest elsewhere.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 2:37PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I cut mine in half with a sharp shovel every late April when it is just showing signs of life and it still looks good with full blooms. (the local plant sale loves getting this as a donation :) Blooming starts the end of June for me with peak mid-July.
Yours will probably be doubled in size from the look of your photo from last year.
This plant really needs a lot of space.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 7:32AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Franeli - believe it or not, that pic is of right now !! Of course, I'm in zone 7b so that makes a big difference. But I'll heed your advice about when to divide..TKX!!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:41PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Walkers Low is the name of a garden in England where the plant originated. It's not a size description.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:06AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Didn't know that, Lacey, how interesting!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 8:31AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

brit5467,
ooops,I thought that photo was last season's. Plants are really blooming in your zone!
I still have ice and snow on 1/2 of my perennial bed,lol
You can trim it way down after the first big bloom flush,then it will regrow and bloom some more(here in the north,after cutting it back, the plant will stay small but still throw off nice blooms).

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 8:35AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

franeli, OMG - ice and snow ??!! I guess I take our weather for granted. Earlier this week, it was 80!! But today, it's in the 50's. And we consider that cold...LOL.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 3:34PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

franeli...can you clarify something for me? Earlier, you said something that confused me: "I cut mine in half with a sharp shovel every late April when it is just showing signs of life and it still looks good with full blooms."

But then you say, "Blooming starts the end of June for me with peak mid-July."

So is yours full of bloom in April -- or does it start blooming end of June??

I ask, because just since I posted this question, he's gotten so huge that I really have to do something & since it's in a narrow raised bed which runs along side my walkway to my steps, I'd still like it to drap over both sides. So I'm thinking of slicing off the 'front' & 'back' of him...(and you said I can transplant those) but want to do it during the right time.

Since I posted, I'm really going into bloom, so that's why I'm a bit confused....

Thanks,
Bonnie

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 12:37AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

Well... yesterday was the first day the ice and snow left my main perennial border, so I was able to use a shovel to chop all of my 'walkers low' nepetas in half. Then I transplanted them along an edge where I have some climbing red honeysuckle. It hit 64degrees for the first time this year! These plants will all start to bloom for me around 6/25-7/1.
So, the plants here in the north are just breaking dormancy and showing tiny bits of life. This is when I do all my perennial moving and dividing.
I would imagine in your warm zone that after the heavy flowering is over, you 'could' cut it down and divide it,replanting the new sections and watering appropriately. Of course,this will leave you with a small plant,but they sure grow in quickly.
You could also just prune it down(after the big bloom) for blooms later and then in early fall,cut and divide.
Also, I think soil in planters gets warmer than ground soil.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 8:58AM
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lepages

I didn't know that you could prune nepeta before it blooms. Does this also keep the plants on the smaller size? I've always pruned hard after flowering just because the tend to open up and flop on top of other plants. For those of you that prune before flowering, do you still need to prune after as well?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:02AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I have a Walker's Low and have moved it twice. I am on the fence about trying it in a new location again this year. It is in full sun and was very sprawly last year. It is a large plant and I have a small garden. I can't seem to pair it with complementary neighbors that it works well with. Plus it bloomed once, I pruned it back for rebloom but it took forever to get rebloom and then it was not very significant. I want to like this plant and I'm going to give it one more year to see if it will surprise me.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 6:02AM
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prairiegirlz5

I like the "shrubby" appearance of these. I'm looking for something to plant next to a switchgrass that goes with coreopsis, East Freisland salvia and daisies. I would like it to be a lavender purple color that is lighter than the salvia, and bloom for an extended period of time. Would this plant work? How does it compare to Russian sage? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 11:09PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

I see I was the OP of this thread. but now I have much more experience with mine. I have both the Catmint & Russian Sage. I find for me, the sage grows up quite tall and not very full (although I may not have pruned it correctly).

They were bought & planted same time & in size pots and you can see the difference. The sage is in first pic below, right behind bird bath.

I looked back and see I bought both half dead in 1/2 gallon pots end of '09, didn't plant it until spring '10. Dont have pics from that summer.

But next year, April 19, 2011 catmint was quite large (see link to pic in very first post) and by May 9, less than a month later, it was in full bloom (see 1st pic below). By end of year it was 4 ft. in diameter.

Earlier this month I had to dig it up to divide it since the root ball was so dense I could not just split it with a shovel. I had to SAW IT into 3rds & then replanted one into same spot. Therefore, I'd suggest dividing it before it gets to that point (of having to dig totally up).

My point being, it does take up lots of space and will need to be divided frequently. In my case, possibly after every season or two.

But I swear by it. I'm so glad to have some divisions now!! It's a beautiful plant & bees LOVE IT !! Plus, mine stayed in bloom without any major pruning way into fall (zone 7B - east coast).

This pic is May 9th, 2011

This pic from today. See areas on landscape timber that looks wet in between day lily leaves, in front of bird bath (there's a marker of middle of all that where I replanted divided plant). That is how big it got last year, where it laid on the timber and sun did not get to it. And it draped out onto my walkway. HUGE, huh?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:49PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Correction: In description of last pic above, when I said it laid on timber and sun did not get to it....I meant sun did not hit the timber (not the plant....lol) and therefore it did not bleach the wood. Sorry for any confusion... :-)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:52PM
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prairiegirlz5

brit~Thanks for the detailed explanation! I have RS and while I do like it with coneflowers and such, I think the catmint sounds great for what I am planning. I was mainly concerned about 1. color, I need to be sure it's a contrast to the salvia, not the same shade of blue and 2. What does it look like in winter? Ideally, I would like to leave it standing until early spring, when it would get cut down with the grass, and bulbs would take over.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 7:22PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

You're welcome "girl" for not thinking I got TOO detailed. I tend to do that alot..lol.

For #1 - the color in pics is very true (well, depending on your monitor, I guess). I'd defintely say more purple than blue. Paler, like Lavender color, I guess (dont have lavender but have seen it) but even then, more intense or deeper in color (bear in mind...that's my soil, my zone, etc).

#2 - Because I leave most everything alone until spring (unless it requires fall pruning)...I'm partial to leaving all dead stuff for birds, etc. So not sure if my taste is like yours.

Past two falls/winters I left it alone since it lived for so long yet kept the same shape. We have very mild winters but did have a couple freezes and yet, nothing got brittle and only lost about half the flowers.

Of course it turned brown (lol) but basically looked like the same plant, only dead. Don't know if that's what you're looking for...but if you're looking for something to fill up space during winter, he definitely did the job.

And I'd say it's the perfect plant to leave alone until you mow it down before bulbs come up.

BTW, just for zone comparison -- I'm couple blocks from beach but not sandy soil. Have 6-8" good soil before clay, summers are humid as hell, over 100 some days, and often no rain for weeks (I do water during those times).

Let me know what you figure out !!

Bonnie (aka Brit)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 1:18AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I prune mine really hard right when it is waking up. Love this plant. But wish the "Low" was removed from the name! Like many, I thought it was a description, and not til a year after having it, did I find out it was the name of a garden. I now have 3. It's so consistently beautiful. I make a low fence around it, like the top ring of a tomato cage, to control the sprawl.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 1:26PM
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nicoleternity(6a)

wow brit5467 yours looks great! mine is flopping all over. I am considering sacraficing this first flush of blooms (which is a ring around the outside anyway, because of flop). Then hoping it will return by the end of July (quite a ways away) for a party I am having.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:31AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Wow, your pic is gorgeous Brit! There are so many threads on this plant, and I can see why. I MUST get some of these - do the bees and butterflies like thses?

I have the short Nepeta 'Junior Walker', and it is a pretty edger, but much less noticeable than the taller blooms.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 12:14PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Thanks to both of you for the compliment !! Yes, Terrene...the bees just love it and are around it all day (the big bumble bees, not honey bees). I get very few butterflies but the ones that do come around do love it.

And Linnea,I think it would come back by July. My pic above where I'd just transplanted it was mid April and it's pretty big now...two months later.

I'll post a pic a little later on.... :-)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 3:47PM
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splitrock

One of my favorite characteristics of this plant is that it looks good very early in the spring. I cut off the old stalks when the crown begins to form new growth and the plant is quickly a lovely, soft, blue-grey mound that looks nice and neat in the early spring garden. Add this to its deer-resistant fragrance, and it is a really likeable and dependable perenial.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:24PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Well, nicoleternity == here is the pic I promised so that you could compare to the 2nd one in my March 12th post(above)and see how fast it grew in just a couple months. This was from digging up and dividing the original one into thirds this spring (just to give you some idea on if you cut yours back now). We have been fortunate to have plenty of rain, tho, so that helped. Don't think I've had to water that bed but once or twice so far....cross fingers....lol

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 9:19PM
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cukesalad(5a)

Terrene - Where did you find your "Junior Walker" catmint? I see it's a new introduction this year and I can't seem to find it locally. Has it bloomed heavily yet? I have a border where I'd love the look of Walker's Low but need something smaller. Junior seems like it would work very well ...if only I could find it!! :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:09PM
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