Nepeta is in my top 5 of perennials. It was one of the first plants I put in when I built the outdoor enclosure for my cats and started gardening again. To keep them from being completely ripped up by my frisky felines, I put small wire cages over the plants. The plants easily grew through the cages, and were almost completely hidden beneath the foliage by mid-spring. And actually, in the first year, I had the plants growing underneath plastic milk crates if you can believe it, and the catmints grew just fine! My cats would often jump on top of the crates, pawing and chewing at the catmint that was growing out, but it did the plants no harm. Probably the most serious hazard were all the bees that were drawn to the nepeta, but my cats seemed to know to avoid playing near them when the bees were around.
In the above photo is Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’. This and Nepeta faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant,’ which you can see in this photo, are both growing on an eastern exposure, just below the bay window that looks out onto the gardens. This means that they lose out on afternoon sunlight. Although Nepeta are sun loving plants, they grow just fine with the afternoon shade.
In the photo below is Nepeta faassenii ‘Cat’s Meow,’ which seems to be a more upright growing catmint. A little too tidy for my taste, as I like the billowy look. My cats also hardly ever touched it, so I’m going to remove the wire cage this year.
There seem to be more varieties being introduced every year, and I wonder how many more variations on the theme of cat they can come up with for names. And yes, they already did ‘Purrsian Blue’.