Why does my catnip (nepeta cataria) smell like low-grade lemon balm? To add to my confusion, they look nearly alike.
I’ve discovered that the various catnip plants growing around my yard smell different.
For example, the potted plants I picked up at a nursery have a faint skunk-like odor, which intensifies when dried.
On the other hand, seed grown catnip have a faint minty-citrusy scent. I’ve observed that the minty scent intensifies in catnip grown in-ground versus container-grown catnip. Or maybe I’m just imagining it.
I had forgotten I had dumped some potting soil laced with catnip seed in my flower bed and the seedlings emerged between the perennials, well protected by its taller neighbors. Catnip is supposedly a mint relative, but I can’t attest to its invasiveness. I am waiting to see if this colony will survive the winter and spread during the warm seasons.
A side-by-side comparison displays how catnip can be easily confused for lemon balm: look for the fine hairs on catnip leaves and the golden hue on lemon balm leaves. Here’s an article enumerating the differences.
Regardless of the smell, my cats still react the same way to the skunk-odor catnip and the mint-scented catnip. Here’s Conan going after the mint-scented variety.
It’s not difficult for the cats to distinguish between catnip and lemon balm. The cats have a habit of destroying catnip plants whenever they are in reach, so identification is easy usually in the aftermath. As a result, I have elevated the potted catnip plants and take cuttings to hand out to the catkids.
A takeaway from all this is to label your seeds and cuttings!
We accomplished a great deal over this weekend despite the cooling weather. I took advantage of an early release on Friday afternoon to check out North Haven Gardens for tree and shade plant prospects. Takeaways included Picasso calla lily and White Star caladium bulbs, cat grass seed and a variegated milkweed by Hout Couture. I came very close to picking up a variegated hellebore (Snow Fever), cool literally and figuratively speaking, but refrained due to lack of experience.
Saturday included trips to several area nurseries and feed stores looking for unusual or uncommon plants. Farm-and-feed stores differ in that they rarely carry ornamentals and focus on vegetable/crop seeds and of course farm operations. I did find it fascinating to find 3 healthy Moruga Scorpion specimens at Dennis’ Farm Store in Denton that I was half-tempted to snap up (found variegated oregano and a Golden Girl salvia instead). And who could resist the adorably cute farm babies at D&L Farm and Home Store in Aubrey? I did finally add to my cat-friendly herb planter, discovering lemon balm at Texas Seasons in Celina.
After hitting up Four Seasons and Laguna Madre for variegated sedum and a pot of lemongrass, it was off to work digging up more clay to add depth to the path nearest the fence. Then, Sunday and Monday we spent the day setting the flagstone, removing the builder-installed plants, and installing our bird-and-butterfly friendly (mostly) perennial garden.
The end of March is coming fast, and we have yet to finish our yard crash. It doesn’t help that we are coming up with new ideas along the way…
The first lily of the year just made its appearance. My sweet cheeks spotted this Lollipop lily making a grand entrance in the lily bed–luckily he had his new camera phone to capture the moment.
Other blooms seen in profusion include the Oertel’s rose yarrow and the late blooming dianthus. The pansies are still growing strong, and the Hot Lips salvia is just now beginning to put out blooms, after a slow start.
The variegated society garlic have dropped their flowers, though the catnip is daring to bloom immediately, after having been relocated between the rosemary and lavender. There are yet plenty of peppers to put into the ground, but with this last taste of cool weather (May 1st lows of 48 degrees), I am hoping that warmer weather will permit the basils and peppers to flourish.
I also moved most of the Flame Callas to the salvia bed, in hopes that they will take to their new home soon. I know there is still a calla positioned under one of the oxalis plants in the lily bed, but I’m unsure what color it is or where to put it (except in a pot). Hopefully this next weekend I will have time to replant it.