By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
Walker’s Low Catmint was the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year and gets its name from a location in England, not because it grows low to the ground. It was named perennial plant of the year because it met all the requirements for selection: suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions, low maintenance, pest and disease resistant, readily available, multiple seasons of ornamental interest and easily propagated. It is definitely a West Texas perennial star that produces aromatic gray-green crinkled foliage and thrives in harsh drought conditions producing blue-lavender flowers beginning in spring and continuing through late summer. It is a showy plant that is indispensable in xeriscape yards. Best of all, it is rabbit and deer resistant.
Catmint is easy to grow and requires at least half a day of sun but will flower best in full sun. It will tolerate a wide range of soil types. When it reaches maturity it will be 18” to 24” tall and 18” wide.
This plant can be purchased in pots at local nurseries. When planting be sure to dig the hole two times the size of the pot and check for any roots that need to be loosened before planting. Adding compost before back filling will help the plant to thrive.
Cut back in late winter to just above soil level. After the first blooms have matured, deadhead spent flowers to encourage re-blooming.
Walker’s Low Catmint is a great companion plant to silver or gray leafed grasses and flowers. Its blooms provide nectar for honeybees and butterflies.
Nepeta racemose “Walkers Low” came to us from the Caucasus and northern Iran. Its genus name, Nepeta honors the city of Nepi, Italy, which was once the center of Etruscan civilization. The genus includes all the aromatic catmints including catnip, the catmint that cats adore. Although not as attractive to cats as catmint, my cat still sniffs at it when he is outside.
Although not a Texas native, if you want a plant that will perform, has an historical connection and might please your cat, this is the plant for you!
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.