Valeriana officinalis is the common name for this perennial plant. It’s native to Europe and Asia.

Its scientific name is derived from the Latin verb valere, which means “to be strong” and “to be healthy”.

It can be grown in USDA zones 4 through 9. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold and it grows quickly.

The winter is when the valerian plants usually fall to the ground.

Its roots are not destroyed, so you’ll see new growth when spring arrives.

Valerian can grow in many conditions. It needs a lot of light, so it requires varying levels of sun.

Keep the soil moist, as the plant needs plenty of water. Mulch can be added to retain moisture.

This self-seeding herb thrives when the flowers are removed before they can develop. Then, you can drop seeds.

After the frost has gone, sow the seeds directly into the ground.

It is possible to start it indoors, and then transplant it into the garden.

Scientific Name
Valeriana officinalis
Common Names
Valerian, all-heal, garden heliotrope
Hardiness
USDA 3-9
Indoor or Outdoor Plant?
Outdoor
Sun Exposure
Part shade to full sun
Water
Consistent and regular
Size
3 – 5 feet tall
Soil Type
Loam that is average in quality and well-drained
Soil pH
Tolerable of all soils
Flower
White, pale pink
Growing Difficulty
Simple

Appearance and Characteristics

It can be mistaken for wild plants, but if grown to its full potential and given the right conditions, this plant can reach 5 feet in height.

Its shoots grow from a small rhizome. They have fibrous roots and emerge as a result. The stems are often pubescent at the nodes.

The petioles become shorter as the leaves are pulled upwards towards the stems.

You will also find distinctive hairs on their underside.

These lobed leaves are borne in pairs from the sides of tall hollow stalks.

It will be obvious when it is in full bloom that the top is covered with tiny white or pale pink flowers.

It is possible to confuse it with red valerian, Centranthus ruber or both. However, they are not related.

Valerian is a small, oblong-shaped fruit that measures around 3-5mm in length.

The wind often scatters the seeds, which makes them self-seeding plants.

The flowers are found in small white or pale pink clusters.

The most distinctive characteristic of flowers is their sweet smell, which can be almost likened to vanilla or cloves.

Because of their abundance of nectar, these aesthetic pollinators are easy to attract.

They are also used as a food source by many other insects such as hoverflies and butterflies.

People in Europe would use cats to judge the quality of flowers, as they are able to smell the plants, much like they do with catnip.

Because they produce longer roots and have more flower stalks, older plants are easier to identify.

You will notice that younger plants have smaller roots and only one stalk when harvested.

Benefits of Growing Valerian Flowers

Valerian’s healing properties are well-documented since the 17th Century.

You can use the leaves to make a poultice to treat bruises. The Valerian is not only beautiful but also has medicinal properties.

It is usually taken orally and used to treat anxiety, insomnia dyssomnia, depression, and other conditions.

Other treatment options include mild tremors and chronic fatigue syndrome, infantile seizures, muscle pain, and muscle weakness.

It is used to calm anxiety in stressful psychological situations.

The herb is also used by many women to treat cramps and menopausal symptoms as well as shingles.

It is used in household products such as bath additives and essential oil to aromatherapy, which promote relaxation and sleep.

It is a common herbal remedy for ADHD, according to studies.

It can be taken as a capsule or made into tea for relaxation or sleep.

Gardeners plant valerian along with hummingbirds, catnip and echinacea.

You can use the flowers stalks as decorations or cut them into vases.

A bouquet or vase that has a fragrance is more beautiful will be more attractive.

Growing Guide

Although the valerian can be grown easily, it requires a lot of care when it comes soil and water.

If you grow it medicinally, you need to ensure you produce high quality stems, roots, and flowers.

Valerian flowers can be grown outdoors if the conditions are right.

Water

The valerian requires constant moisture to reach its maximum potential.

However, this does not mean you should water it too much.

After you have decided whether you want to plant it in a garden bed or in an indoor pot, you will need to arrange a watering schedule.

This herb can become waterlogged and cause it to rot the roots or plant, which can attract pests.

Instead of watering your plant only once a day, you can give it large amounts of water every few days.

This allows moisture to penetrate the roots, keeping the soil and plant moister for longer.

Sometimes, the plant can dry out but still needs moisture from the ground.

This process is made smoother by deep watering.

Apply a mulch to the soil to retain moisture.

It is also a smart idea to keep track of the weather.

You can skip watering during heavy rains or stormy weather until the weather clears.

Light

The valerian plant has many uses.

It thrives in bright light.

This is the right plant for you if you live in a sunny location.

It is less sensitive to bright sunlight and can better tolerate full sun.

If you give the valerian full sun for at minimum six hours per day, it will thrive.

If you place it on a west-facing patio, or in a garden, it will receive the required hours of sunlight.

You could use it as a hedge, as it serves as a screen to protect smaller shrubs.

Soil

Valerian is a well-known plant that can grow in all soil types and textures provided it has good drainage.

It thrives on sandy loam.

Plant it in clay soils to ensure that it has drainage. This will prevent the roots from drying out and eventually lead to its death.

It is important to add compost to your soil and ensure proper drainage.

The valerian loves nitrogen-rich soil so you can add compost to the mulch after harvest.

Take out any dried stalks or flowers.

You can forget to do so and they will start to produce seeds. These seeds will spread all over your garden and take over any other growth.

This plant, despite its low germination rate can still grow wild and spread throughout your garden without you having to intervene.

Humidity and Temperature

This plant is well-known for its resilience.

The valerian can withstand harsh winter conditions.

This herb is frost-tolerant and can easily be grown in USDA Zones 4 to 9.

The winter kills the plant, but the seeds stay dormant until spring.

The roots are unaffected so the shoots will emerge in the spring without intervention.

It is important to remember that plants can suffer from extreme frost damage when they are young.

Cover the plants if you experience long periods of unseasonably cold spring temperatures.

Plant them in spring or autumn, and in mild winter spells.

Summer planting is possible as long as the plants are watered throughout the second growing season.

Potting and repotting

Clean the garden beds and remove any stones or weeds to make an outdoor space.

To retain moisture, mulch or compost can be added to the soil to ensure good drainage.

The plant should be placed in an area that receives enough sunlight.

When your space is ready to sow, arrange the seeds in rows on the bed.

Wait for the seeds germination and then produce seedlings.

A container can also be used if there is not enough space or quality soil, or if you are just starting out.

The container should be filled with nutrients-rich soil.

Make sure your base is big enough to support the roots of the valerian plants.

It should also be deep enough for the herb to be housed with plenty of soil space at its bottom.

This plant needs constant moisture so the soil can take up more space.

Mulch acts as a reservoir and retains moisture.

Pruning and Propagating

For the best valerian propagation, you must divide the roots of healthy plants to create newer specimens in your garden.

This should be done early in the season to allow the roots of the dividing plant time to grow before winter.

You can grow valerian flowers by starting seedlings.

In nutrient- and nitrogen-rich soil, plant the seeds 3/8 to 1/2 inches deep.

In a matter of weeks, the clumps can grow to approximately 18 inches in width.

Germination takes usually between two and three weeks.

To get a head start on your plants, you can try growing them indoors about a month before the last frost date.

To ensure that one does not germinate, add quality soil to the tray.

Transfer the plants outside after the last frost has passed.

Keep the temperature at 65-68degF, or 18-20degC, until the seeds germinate.

After that, the plant should continue to grow at regular greenhouse temperatures until it is big enough for transplant.

This plant is prone to regrow and spread so it is important to trim the flowers that have been sown before they become seed. This will prevent the valerian from becoming an invasive species and taking over your garden.

Although it is not a large herb, it requires more space to grow than other smaller herbs.

This herb can grow quite tall so make sure you plant it where it won’t get in the way.

You can remove any old flowers that the valerian herb may produce and deadhead them.

This will stop the seeds from germinating.

Allow the flowers to reseed if you want more valerian plants in your garden.

Common Problems, Diseases, And Pests

Aphids are common pests around valerian flowers. They thrive on the sap of your plants, leaving behind a sticky substance called honeydew. Use soapy water to clean the leaves.

The smell attracts cats, so make sure you have your fences in place to stop them littering the plants.

Japanese beetles can pose a threat for these plants. To prevent them from appearing, spray soapy water regularly on the plant.

You should always check for rust, and if you find it, remove it.

Spray the infected plants with a fungicide.

It is crucial to get rid of all garden debris and weeds around the plant.

If the herb is not planted in a dense enough area, powdery and downy mildew may occur.

Plants will thrive if there is more space between them.

FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Valerian flower.

Where is the best place to grow a Valerian?

It thrives in partial or full sun.

Is valerian an annual or a perennial plant?

It is a perennial that clumps.

What is the smell of valerian root?

It has an earthy, strong odor.