Nepeta newbie with a few questions

jayco(5b NY)May 1, 2007

I got some catmint of an unknown variety from a neighbor last year. It's already up and blooming (very pretty) and claiming a good deal of space, and I have the feeling it's going to start crowding out its neighbors. Does yours do that? Do you thin it now or just keep cutting it back or what? Also, do I shear it after the blooms are spent and will it keep reblooming? Thanks!

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

The most commonly grown Nepetas are 'Six Hills Giant' and 'Walkers Low', not particularly low since the name is a place in England and not a description of the plant. They spread themselves out when in bloom, but are not invasive although the clump very slowly enlarges. After the first bloom in over, cut the plant back hard (I wait until I see new growth coming out of the center, then cut all the old stuff back), and you get a second flush and bloom. I give my 'Walkers Low' plenty of room on all sides to spread out.

There are other Nepetas, but most (though not all) have the same growth habit. None are invasive like mints.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:31AM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

What laceyvail said. These can get pretty wide at maturity (3' across) and do flop a bit, but these are great, hardy, deerproof, healthy plants that bloom off and on all summer. If you have to, move the other plants. I guess you could stake the catmints, but I doubt they'd ever look great staked.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:38AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

I grow mine around bearded iris. The iris are done early and don't mind the crowding from nepeta. The nepeta dresses up what would otherwise be a boring patch of iris.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:38PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I'm growing Nepeta transcaucasica and it's DEFINITELY invasive. Very strong, hardy, and drought tolerant, but the babies are taking over the world! Right now, I've staged a duel in a somewhat neglected side-of-the-house flowerbed taken over by Anthemis tinctoria 'Kelwayi' which is also very invasive. I transplanted some Nepeta there last year, and I want to see which one will eventually win. That is, unless my wife makes me till the whole thing over one of these days!

So, did I just get the wrong kind of Nepeta? Because I've been assuming they're mostly invasive like mine (although I've heard Walker's Low has better manners).

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:40PM
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I cannot remember the name of mine right now but I bought some Nepeta about 4 years ago. It was next to dead at Lowe's when I got it. Mine is really low lying and it gets a small white flower. I kept reading these posts about it being invasive but it pretty much only spread out in it's little clump. This spring I noticed a bunch of new little seedlings out from the orginal plant but I was in the bed fluffing the mulch and seemed to have killed most of the ones I did not want. The larger ones I plan to put in this bed I have up back around a few trees that I want to fill in. I don't think they spread as bad as other plants at least!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:03PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Six Hills Giant seeds around for me a fair amount. It's one of those plants I always have to give away. HOWEVER, every single one of my catmints, and I have about 5 kinds, aren't going to bloom for a while yet. So I'm very curious about what this plant really is. (like I really need more blue, early blooming perennials...)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:34PM
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jayco(5b NY)

This might help to clear up the mystery: my catmint is growing next to a Southeastern-facing wall of my house, which I believe to be a zone or so warmer than the rest of my garden. Snapdragons winter over there, for example. Could that explain it?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 2:20PM
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bean_counter_z4(Zone 4, Rkfd,IL)

mad gallica, I have a cultivar (bought as Walker's Low but is not) that blooms very early. The leaves are smaller than Walkers and much more silver in color. As you can see below, it blooms a couple weeks before the TB iris and many weeks before the WL nepeta.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 8:40AM
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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

There are lots of garden nepetas and thier seeding tendencies vary widely. For me, most of them seed some, including Walkers Low and Six Hills Giant, though those 2 don't really seem problematic and the seedlings can be moved to other places. They are NOT generally invasive by spreading, since the plants are almost all clump forming. The exception is N. sibirica which does spread by underground stems. Then there are those that seed a lot and could be pesky if not in the right place. N. parnassica is a taller catmint for me that seeds a lot though is a very pleasant mid blue and blooms so long that noone except a very tidy gardener could dislike it.

Tough to answer your question since catmints vary so widely in size and form. It does seem odd to me that a true Nepeta would be blooming now in zone 5 (seems way too early)-- but this has been an odd spring.....

Digging Dog Nursery in CA has an outstanding selection of catmints. I think they are almost all great garden plants when used in the 'right' spots.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 10:00AM
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jayco(5b NY)

We live on the cusp between Zone 5 and Zone 6. The winter was mild, and the nepeta is growing right near the house in a sheltered, south-east facing spot. I assume this is why it's blooming so early.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 12:20PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

BC, if you ever figure out what it is - I WANT IT!

Here, this spring has been quite cold and late. We are probably 2 to 3 weeks behind 'normal', and possibly a month behind last year. The early roses were starting to bloom May 1st last year. This year they don't even have tiny buds yet. In the past, cool springs have led to a logjam of bloom when it does finally heat up. You can get combinations you will never see again.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Laura twixanddud(5b MI)

I have two kinds of nepeta that bloom much earlier than my other kinds - this year they have started blooming in the last couple of days - they are Nepeta Blue Wonder and Nepeta Dropmore Hybrid.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 6:39PM
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jayco(5b NY)

I'm resurrecting this thread because I finally found my notes from last year's plant swap, where I got the nepeta. It's either nepeta mussinii or nepeta transcaucasica 'Blue Infinity' (can't recall where I planted which, another good argument for keeping detailed notes.) In any case it is now in full bloom and very nice!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 3:33PM
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jayco(5b NY)

I forgot to add that the creeping veronica I got at the same swap, and planted in front of the nepeta, is also now in full bloom. I'm not sure when either is supposed to bloom, but that might help you to determine whether my garden is just ahead due to its location, or if the nepeta is, indeed, a particularly early type. (Thanks to sheer newbie luck, it's turned out to be a very nice combo!)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 3:38PM
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jayco(5b NY)

I'm pretty sure now it's the nepeta mussinii, having better deciphered my garbled notes.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 3:40PM
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tess_5b(z5b S.Ont.)

jayco, I think you are bang on with it being mussinii. I was in the garden weeding on Sunday and was very surprised to find that two of my mussinii's are blooming, the plants aren't smothered but are definitely in bloom. This variety is always early for me but I don't remember it ever being THIS early!


    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:50AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Is anyone else disappointed with Nepeta transcaucasica 'Blue Infinity' for how small and "unshowy" the flowers are? The plant looks nice and smells great when you pull a leaf off, but the flowers are underwhelming for me. Somehow the photos at Thompson and Morgan looked so much more beautiful. Maybe I mistook an ultra-closeup shot for something at a normal viewing distance!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:27PM
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I've got several Walker Low's and they are the most dependable in my driest garden situations. They are not invasive at all, and I actually plant them next to the taller sedums (Frosty Morn and some of the dark red German varieties) as well as up against some of the tougher oregano's. They are loose and billowy and tend to adapt to their space easily, and I can put them in the hottest, driest, most sloped areas with ease. Very useful and versatile plant.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 6:34PM
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