When to Harvest Catnip: Tips for Timing Your Harvest

When to Harvest Catnip: Tips for Timing Your Harvest

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia but is widely grown in North America. Catnip is a member of the mint family and contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone. It is this compound that attracts and stimulates cats.

Catnip is not only useful to cats, but it also has medicinal properties that can benefit humans. Some of its medicinal uses include treating anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.

Harvesting catnip at the right time is crucial in getting the best results. In this article, we will discuss the timing of catnip harvesting and tips to help you get the best out of your catnip.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It has a square stem that grows up to 100cm tall with heart-shaped leaves. The plant produces small white or lavender flowers that bloom from late spring to early autumn.

Native to Europe and Asia, catnip grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. It is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils as long as it’s well-draining. Catnip is easy to grow from seed, and it thrives in full sun or partial shade.

Effects of Catnip on Cats

Catnip is famous for its effects on cats. Nepetalactone, a chemical compound found in the plant, triggers a euphoric and playful response in cats. Some cats respond by becoming hyperactive, while others relax and become more sedentary.

The effects of catnip are temporary and usually last for 5-20 minutes. After that, cats become immune to its effects for several hours.

Which Cats are Sensitive to Catnip?

About two-thirds of cats are sensitive to catnip, meaning they respond to it by exhibiting playful, euphoric behavior. The remaining third of cats are not affected by it.

The sensitivity to catnip is genetic, meaning it’s inherited from the cat’s parents. If both parents have a sensitivity gene, all their offspring will respond to catnip. If only one parent has it, only some of their offspring will have a sensitivity gene.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Catnip is safe for cats and is not addictive. Scientific research has not shown any harmful effects of catnip on cats. However, it’s important to note that cats should not eat too much catnip as it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

When to Harvest Catnip

The best time to harvest catnip is when the plant is in full bloom. This is when the plant is at its peak in terms of flavor and potency.

Harvesting catnip too early or too late can result in inferior quality leaves and less nepetalactone content. Early harvesting yields less potent leaves, while late harvesting leads to the plant losing its oils and potency.

What are the Signs that Catnip is Ready for Harvesting?

There are several signs that catnip is ready for harvesting. These include:

  • The plant is at least 12 inches tall
  • The plant has small white or lavender flowers
  • The leaves have a strong fragrance when rubbed
  • The stems are thick and contain minimal moisture

How to Harvest Catnip

Here are the steps to follow when harvesting catnip:

  1. Choose a dry day to harvest the plant
  2. Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the stem of the plant about 1 inch from the ground level
  3. Make sure to cut as much of the plant as possible without harming the roots
  4. Discard any yellowish or withered leaves
  5. Remove any twigs or debris from the leaves before drying

Drying Catnip

Drying catnip is a crucial step in preserving its flavor and potency. Drying helps to remove any remaining moisture from the plant, and it also helps to concentrate the essential oils.

How to Dry Catnip

Here are the steps to follow when drying catnip:

  1. First, remove any stems, twigs, or other debris from the leaves
  2. Spread the leaves on a flat surface or hang them in small bunches
  3. Place the leaves in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area, such as an attic or garage
  4. The leaves should dry within one to two weeks
  5. Check the leaves frequently for mold or dampness
  6. Once the leaves are dry, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place

Uses of Catnip

Catnip has several uses, including:

  • Making cat toys
  • Repelling insects
  • Emotions relieving
  • Stress management
  • Treating headaches and anxiety

Conclusion

Catnip is an excellent herb with numerous benefits for both cats and humans. Harvesting catnip at the right time is vital in getting the most out of your plant. By following the tips highlighted in this article, you’ll be able to harvest and dry your catnip perfectly.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions related to harvesting catnip:

  • When should I begin to harvest catnip?
  • The best time to start harvesting catnip is when the plant is at least 12 inches tall and has small white or lavender flowers.

  • How many times can I harvest catnip?
  • You can harvest catnip twice a year, once in early summer and once in early fall.

  • What is the best time to dry catnip?
  • The best time to dry catnip is when the plant is at its peak in terms of flavor and potency. Harvest the plant when it’s in full bloom and then dry it in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area.

  • How long does it take to dry catnip?
  • It takes about one to two weeks to dry catnip.

  • Is catnip safe for human consumption?
  • Catnip is safe for human consumption and has several medicinal uses, including treating anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. However, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider before using catnip for medicinal purposes.

References

  • https://www.catster.com/cats-101/catnip-for-cats-buying-growing-and-harvesting-a-cats-favorite-herb
  • https://www.almanac.com/plant/catnip
  • https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-grow-and-harvest-catnip-1402810
  • https://extension.umn.edu/herbs/growing-catnip
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323830

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