Why Catmint Must be Cut Back Mid-Summer

Catmint, also called Walker’s Low, is one of the most popular plants in Garden Zone 6: landscapers use it prolificly where I live.  In fact, my original landscapers put six of them in my front yard.  This is great when they look good!  But not so great when they start to get overgrown & droopy-looking, which happens right around the end of July into August.  Here, we’ll discover “Why Catmint Must be Cut Back Mid-Summer,” so that you can make the most of it & possibly get a second bloom!

Why Catmint Must be Cut Back Mid-Summer, 3 Flower Alternatives to Lavender, Girl Who Gardens

This photo was taken in spring, when my catmint are looking beautiful & lush, with pretty purple flowers.

Straggly Catmint, Why Catmint Must be Cut Back Mid-Summer, Girl Who Gardens

And this is what it looks like mid-August! You might confuse it with a weed. This is a plant that desperately needs to be cut back…

Catmint

Good Garden Shears

Catmint

Why Catmint Must be Cut Back Mid-Summer

Signs That Your Catmint Needs to be Deadheaded

  • It’s gotten way too big, & is crowding out other plants;
  • It’s looking droopy, saggy, & limp ~ instead of having more “erect” stems;
  • Your pretty purple flowers are turning brown ~ this is a MAJOR sign that you need to do a dramatic deadhead of your catmint;
  • It just looks BAD! Or not like it did in spring.

Droopy Catmint, Why Catmint NEED to be Cut Back Mid-Summer, Girl Who Gardens

This catmint is: 1) Overgrown, 2) Droopy, & 3) Showing brown flowers instead of purple. ALL signs that it must be deadheaded asap!!

How to Cut Back Your Catmint

  • Take standard garden shears ~ or even better, large pruning shears (they’ll make the job easier) with a nice sharp edge.  If your catmint is seriously overgrown like mine above: cut it back by about HALF or more. 
  • You don’t want any brown remaining: either in the flowers, or on any stems.  Get rid of anything brown!!  These are dead stems & won’t produce anymore unless you cut them way back.
  • DON’T be afraid to cut catmint back aggressively: they will COME BACK!! These are some of the fastest growers in the yard, & should make a spectacular comeback in late summer/fall, with more purple flowers.

Catmint AFTER Pruning, Why Catmint NEEDS to be Deadheaded Mid-Summer, Girl Who Gardens

This is one of my catmint’s AFTER pruning: you can see green leaves & stems again!! There’s still a bit of brown, but you can always come back & do a final prune.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a plant with very little maintenance, catmint isn’t it.  I have to cut them back at least 2-3X per year ~ & due to their large size, this is quite a job. They also create a bit of a mess as they lose their purple flowers (which you can see in photo above). So if you want a similar-looking plant, try Russian Sage. They’re extremely drought-tolerant, easy-to-grow, & tend to grow upright vs. spreading out. 

Why Catmint Must be Deadheaded Mid-Summer

I still love catmint ~ but I realized that I didn’t need SIX of them in my front yard!  This gives me too much deadheading work in summer, when I’ve already got my hands full with weeds & other issues.  So I just replaced one catmint with natural grass instead, which looks great spring thru fall….& requires little to no maintenance. 

As your own garden grows & matures, it helps to take stock once in awhile & see how you can make life a little easier!

Happy Gardening…

xoxo Noelia

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