Catmint, or faassen nepeta, is a showy, fragrant member of the mint family but it is not the legendary plant favored by cats. That plant is another member of the mint family, catnip or Nepeta cataria.
Description of catmint: Catmint generally grows 12 to 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Many spikes of light blue to violet-blue flowers are held out over mounds of silvery-gray foliage.
How to grow catmint: In much of the country, catmint grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It will grow in partial shade in regions warmer than Growing zone for: 5 and needs afternoon shade in the South. Many varieties will bloom again in the fall if you sheer them back by half or two-thirds after the first flush of flowers fades and dies in spring.
Propagating catmint: By division in spring, or stem cuttings.
Uses for catmint: Low-growing varieties make good edging plants and look terrific in front of shrub roses. Groups of three or more plants are most effective.
Catmint related varieties: 'Blue Wonder' grows into a 12- to 15-inch-tall compact mound. It flowers for several weeks in spring and will flower again in the fall if you cut it back after the spring bloom. 'Six Hill's Giant' grows 24 to 36 inches tall and bears 10-inch-long, dark violet flower spikes. The foliage is greener than other types. 'Walker's Low' grows 12 inches tall and has soft lavender blue flowers from spring through fall.
Scientific name for catmint: Nepeta x faassenii