Explore captivating alternatives to lavender plants for a stunning garden.

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Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) resembles lavender at a glance. Like lavender, it’s a bushy, herbaceous perennial with delicate purple blooms and is often used as a border or pathway-edging plant. That said, catmint is a far hardier alternative to lavender and a more suitable choice for gardens in colder, hotter, drier, or wetter climates. Where lavender is only hardy in zones 5-8 — which makes much of the northern U.S. an unsuitable habitat for the plant — catmint thrives in zones 3-8. Catmint also tolerates various soil conditions better than lavender. For example, you can grow catmint in clay soils (which have a heavy presence in the southern and eastern states), provided you do your best to promote drainage. Meanwhile, lavender is more sensitive to the moisture clay retains. At the same time, catmint is more drought-resistant than lavender, so it’s an excellent alternative for regions with long dry spells (or if you prefer low-maintenance plants in your garden).

Growing catmint is easy. If growing the plant from seeds, it’s recommended that you sow in the spring well after the last frost. Otherwise, you can let the seeds germinate in containers earlier in the season, then transplant them into the soil outdoors after frosts cease to return, as late as the first weeks of fall. The plantings prefer well-drained soil but need frequent watering until they mature. Full sun works well for catmint, but partial shade is fine, too.

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