Subscribe Today
Give a Gift
Customer Service

Phoenix Home and Garden
Subscribe Today!
For the HomeFor the GardenFood & EntertainingResourcesArticle Archive
For The Garden

Feline Friendly Flora

Author: Lori Johnson
Issue: May, 2017, Page 120
Photo by H. Zell
CAT THYME
(Teucrium marum)


Type: Perennial

Blooms: Pink; summer

Size: 12-18"H by 12-15"W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping.

Attracts: Bees

Note: Cat thyme is related to germander and has a much stronger, muskier scent that cats like but which is less appealing to humans. Its arousing effects make it a good alternative to catnip for many felines, both to roll around in and to ingest.

Why we like it: Like other members of the Teucrium genus, cat thyme makes a good hedge or border in the garden, but keep it away from patios, doors and windows due to its strong scent. Its small leaves are covered in tiny hairlike structures that shade the plant and help it survive hot summers.



Photo by Forest & Kim Starr
LEMON GRASS
(Cymbopogon citratus)

Type: Perennial

Blooms: Rarely flowers

Size: 2-3'H by 2-3'W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Relatively low-maintenance. Water frequently in summer; cut back in winter when dormant.

Attracts: Bees

Note: With a scent that is pleasant to both humans and cats, lemongrass is a common ingredient in Thai food and herbal teas and also serves as a digestive aid for our feline friends. It is nontoxic to cats in its natural plant form but can be toxic in very high doses or in essential-oil form.   

Why we like it: Fast-growing but noninvasive, it is an excellent ornamental grass. Once mature (4-8 months), stalks can be harvested in the fall and frozen for culinary use or dried and stored in airtight glass containers for up to one year.



Photo by Isidre Blanc
VALERIAN
(Valeriana officinalis)


Type: Perennial

Blooms: Pink or white; summer

Size: 12-48"H by 12-20"W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Low. Harvest roots and thin plants as needed in spring or fall.

Attracts: Bees, flies, butterflies, moths

Note: Valerian induces a state of euphoria in cats and is safe to ingest. It’s said to have the opposite effect in humans and is often used in sleep aids to help with insomnia.

Why we like it: In summer, it produces dense clusters of small, fragrant white—sometimes pink—flowers and can reach a height of several feet. Its odor is unpleasant to most humans, so it’s best planted in more remote areas, such as the back border of an herb garden.



Photo by Lori A. Johnson
PROSTRATE ROSEMARY
(Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’)


Type: Perennial

Blooms: Blue; winter through spring

Size: 2-3'H by 2-4'W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Low- maintenance; drought-tolerant once established. Prune after blooming to keep compact size.

Attracts: Bees, birds, butterflies

Note: With its strong odor, this culinary herb repels many pests and is safe for cats, as well as humans, to consume in small amounts. While the ASPCA does not consider rosemary to be toxic to pets, it contains essential oils that can cause stomach upset if ingested in large quantities.

Why we like it: The leaves of this low-maintenance herb can be used either fresh or dried in a variety of recipes.

OTHER FAVORITES: Cat grass (Dactylis glomerata), catmint (Nepeta x faassenii), catnip (Nepeta cataria), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), silver vine (Actinidia polygama), tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

Subscribe Today!