Time to plant a Feline friendly Garden!

Spring!   Time to plant the Garden!

I know a lot of my customers want to plant their gardens soon and why not plan a few plant for your kitty?

Here are some ideas for planting some window box plants ( for city or strictly indoor cats) or some more open-air ideas for more free ranging feline friends.

Wheat or Oat Grass: (Grow to Height: 1 foot) What cat people call ‘cat grass’ is actually either wheat grass or oat grass, and sometimes, a combination of the two.  While wheat and oat grasses could eventually grow to be 5 feet tall if grown outdoors and left to seed, the grains grown by both plants are toxic to cats and so they must be kept short – either by feline “mowers” or by human hand clippers.

Tips for growing from seed HERE.

Lemongrass: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Both cats and people love the smell of the aptly named lemongrass. In fact, some people even say their cat prefers lemongrass to any other plant!  The plant itself is quite healthful offering a host of benefits. It has antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic, diuretic, sedative, and digestion-improving properties! Lemon grass can grow as tall as 3 feet and given room to spread, may span as far as 8 feet over time.

Tips for growing lemon grass in pots HERE

Catnip: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) A member of the mint family, named for its most enthused appreciator, catnip interestingly has opposite effects for people and cats. While many “sleepytime” and relaxation tea blends contain catnip to soothe and sedate us, its scent gives many of our adult feline friends a frisky burst of energy. (Though not all adult cats react to catnip, and kittens never do.)  It’s thought that this works by mimicking feline “happy” pheromones. When cats eat catnip however, it has an effect very similar to that in humans. Cats mellow and become calmer.

Tips for growing catnip indoors HERE.

Mint: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Catnip’s not the only member of the mint family kitties like. In fact, you can plant any one of the hundreds of mint varieties out there for both you and your cat enjoy!  One particular favorite of mine which I grow in my own garden is a chocolate mint plant that truly tastes like a grasshopper ( the delicious cookie kind – not the insect)! Other great options are apple mint, lemon mint, and of course, the classics – peppermint and spearmint. ( A word of caution with this one however – EXCESSIVE intake of peppermint can cause digestive upset in cats. For this reason, it’s important you monitor your cats, especially when first introducing the plant. A leaf here and there is fine, a salad bowl portion is not. Fortunately, most cats only nibble, preferring to smell and rub against peppermint plants rather than eating them, so this isn’t likely to be a problem.)

Tips for growing herbs like mint indoors HERE

Parsley: (Maximum Height: 2 feet)  Says LA Times writer, Julie Davis in her own article on cat garden growing “Parsley is a favorite that provides vitamins A, B, C and beta carotene, potassium and other minerals…” And of course, like many of the plants here actually, parsley is dual-purpose  – a yummy dietary addition for both you and your favorite feline.

Tips for growing parsley HERE.

Zinnias: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your kitty may not necessarily prefer these to some of the other plants in this list, zinnias are safe for feline nibbling, and even considered among the edible flower options for people.  Besides – they add a nice flash of bright color to an otherwise green-on-green kitty garden!

Tips for growing zinnias indoors HERE.

Marigolds: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Marigolds give of a wonderful fresh, almost minty scent and as an added bonus help deter unwanted garden pests.  They are also completely safe for cats and once again, add a nice splash of color to a cat garden. Like zinnias, marigold petals are also sometimes used for culinary purposes.

Tips for growing marigolds indoor HERE.

Johnny-Jump Ups:  (Maximum Height: 10 inches) A variety of violets growing an abundance of little delicate flowers adds more color variety and visual interest to a feline garden. While most commonly coming in variations of purple, yellow, and white, these edible flowers are available in a wide assortment of color options.

Tips for growing violets indoors HERE.

Thyme:  (Maximum Height: 1 foot) While there is a specific variety of thyme – cat thyme – which is a favorite of felines (be warned, says petMD – cat thyme has a particularly strong and some say, unpleasant, odor to us humans), any sort of thyme will appeal and be safe to grow in your kitty garden. “Cat thyme has the same soothing effects as catnip, with the attendant feelings of contentment…” says petMD. Bonus – thyme adds a yummy burst of flavor to roasted meat and vegetables!

Tips for growing thyme indoors HERE.

Rosemary:  (Maximum Height: 5 feet) As a bush-growing herb, rosemary is a fun contrast among the grasses and typically low-growing herbs and flowers. As a safe choice for cats (and a yummy choice for your meat and potatoes!), rosemary adds a wonderful pine-like fragrance to the home and boasts the added benefit of repelling fleas in your kitties.

Tips for growing rosemary indoors HERE.

Carrots: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your cats aren’t likely to go digging in the dirt for delicious root we love, carrot tops are a healthful herb they may enjoy. As a matter of fact, their lack of interest in a carrots below-the-soil offerings can make things really easy and inexpensive for you.  Simply save and plant your left-over carrot tops. They won’t regrow their roots, but they will readily offer up a bunch of pretty lacy greens.

Tips for re-growing carrot tops from scraps HERE.

Valerian: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) As mentioned earlier, not all cats respond to catnip as a stimulant. However, if your cat is among this crowd of indifferents and that’s a little disappointing to you, you may find valerian is the trick! Like catnip, valerian is actually a sedative in humans – in fact, I keep a box of valerian tea and supplements around in case I’m feeling stressed. In kitties however, the effect is just the opposite and it’s suggested that even if cats don’t care about catnip, they will take to it. In fact, says Herbal Cat Care author, veterinarian Dr. Randy Kidd, “Some cats go even crazier for valerian.”

Tips for growing valerian indoors HERE.

Lavender: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Unlike other human sedative herbs, lavender has the same tranquilizing effect in our cats as it does on us, and both people and feline friends appreciate it’s sweet, soothing scent (the leaves are fragrant as well by the way, so you won’t need to wait for blooms to enjoy it).  Lavender makes an interesting addition to a cat garden, a yummy addition to your food such as in the classic French spice blend Herbs de Provence (savory + marjoram+ rosemary + oregano+ lavender leaves or flowers) and a luxurious addition to a warm bath.

Tips for growing lavender indoors HERE.

Spider Plants:  (Maximum Height:  3 feet) But wait. Wasn’t I just complaining about my poor spider plant earlier? Yes, and it turns out there’s a good reason my cats were so interested! Says Ruth Amick for the SFGate, “It has grassy leaves, which may be one of the reasons many cats love it. It also contains compounds related to opium, which may explain why so many cats just can’t leave it alone.” As it turns out also, spider plants are safe for cats to nibble on, so if you have a plant you don’t mind sharing with your kitties, you’re good to go.  Actually, the tendril “baby” growths from which spider plants get their name, come already equipped with a little root system of their own so it’s really easy to propagate several new spider plants from a large mature one.

Tips for growing spider plants HERE.

Silver Vine: (Maximum Height:  15 feet) This is one I had never heard of, but sounds quite interesting. Like catnip, valerian – and maybe spider plants, as it turns out – silver vine has a harmless, but intoxicating effect on cats that’s said to be greater than that of catnip. Note that this is the “Actinidia polygama” type of silver vine I’m talking about and not the common vine pothos plants sometimes called silver vine.  Pothos plants, while not poisonous will cause a burning sensation in your cats mouth and often vomiting as well should they try and eat them. For this reason, they are not recommended in the homes of cat owners. Actinidia polygama is an entirely different plant related to kiwi and in fact, produces fruit with a pleasant sweet/tart strawberry-like flavor and more vitamin C than oranges (or so I’m told by the internet). As they are climbers, most advice regarding its growth deals with an outdoor setup near a fence or trellis.

Tips for growing silver vine HERE.



Image: Gardening Know How