Growing catnip from seed
What are the conditions required of a grower to successfully germinate and grow catnip in a greenhouse environment for transplant to field? Is scarification or stratification of seeds, or both necessary for germination? Are there other unknown conditions we should be aware of that will increases the success of the growing operation?
Huron County Michigan
When planting catnip seeds, the best results can be achieved through the use of proper seed preparation, adequate spacing between seed rows, and appropriate watering. As the first step, a process of freezing and refreezing catnip seeds will allow them to germinate more easily. Transplanting seedlings several inches apart in a garden bed, then thinning seedlings as necessary after they have produced two sets of leaves will help produce prime growing results. Keeping catnip seeds moist with a mister, rather than overwatering, is one key to success with these plants indoors or outdoors.
To fully prepare catnip seeds for germination, it helps to break down the tough seed coating. One way to achieve this goal is by putting seeds in a plastic baggie in the freezer for one month. Next, let the seeds thaw completely, and then freeze them for one additional month. Finally, let the seeds thaw again overnight by immersing them in warm water.
Catmint is a common name for plants from the genus "nepeta," a group within the "Lamiaceae," or mint, family. Another common name is catnip. Both names come from the euphoric effect some members of the genus have on cats. This effect is created both by dried and living forms of those plants.
The effect on cats may be compared to inebriation in humans. It is believed to be brought on by the way chemicals from the plant mimic cat pheromones. The effect is inherited genetically, and though all varieties of felines — including lions — may experience it, specific cats may be immune to the effect.