‘Nepeta’ brings garden scent and colour

The darker blue flowering Nepeta racemosa ‘Superba’ at Dunedin Botanic Garden. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The darker blue flowering Nepeta racemosa ‘Superba’ at Dunedin Botanic Garden. Photo: Peter McIntosh
If you’re looking for a versatile and low-maintenance perennial you can’t go past the Nepeta genus. Brightening the summer garden, they’re suitable for a wide range of growing conditions from a hot, sunny spot to a more damp location.

Commonly known as catnip or catmint, Nepeta belong to the mint family. Many release an aromatic scent when the foliage is crushed, which can attract cats - and more welcome visitors, such as bees and insects - to the garden.

A low-maintenance plant, it still benefits from a cut back after winter. Follow up with a trim after the first flowering to promote another flush of flowers.

There’s no need to divide catmint as it grows and flowers for many years. If you would like more plants, you can easily divide it in the spring.

Pale colours can complement other plants, so lighter catmints look stunning as an underplanting with roses. A sprawling growth habit makes them good for softening hard lines, whether cascading over rocks or edging garden borders. 

At Dunedin Botanic Garden, the darker blue flowering Nepeta racemosa ‘Superba’ (pictured) is planted repeatedly along the edge of the long herbaceous border at garden’s corner.

In the blue colour border is Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, with an upright flowering habit and long spikes of deep violet to lilac blue flowers. In the rose garden species bed is the taller variety Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’.

- Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Linda Hellyer.

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