Valeriana officinalis is a graceful wildflower, most commonly known as Valerian that has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries. Native to Europe and Western Asia it can be found throughout Ireland and Britain, especially alongside rivers and in meadows.
This hardy perennial produces tall stems, to around 1 to 1.5 metres (3 to 5ft) containing sweetly scented, fragrant flowers from June through to September. The flowers are densely clustered and narrow-tubed with five-petaled flowers which are usually white with a hint of pink.
In the garden they are most effective when planted in groupings. The flowers are excellent for cutting and the plants are excellent when used as part of a border, or in an herbal or cottage garden.
Valeriana officinalis plants are at their best when grown in a part shaded or sunny area. If grown in deep shade the stems may become floppy and may require staking. Although the plants can grow in an average soil, they will perform best in a moist humus rich loam that has good drainage.
The tall flower stalks are held atop a low mound of foliage. Its fragrant ferny pinnately compound leaves remain dark green in colour throughout the season. Their relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.
Seeds can be sown directly where they are to grow, or can be sown in pots or trays indoors and transplanted in spring or in autumn,
Sow on the surface and do not cover, as light aids germination of seeds.
Sow the seeds into cells or pots containing good quality seed compost. Water from the base of the tray, Place in a propagator or warm place, ideally at 18 to 25°C (62 to 75°F). Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed.
Transplant seedlings at a spacing of 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in).
Sow into their final location before the last frost. Simply push the Valerian seeds into well-cultivated soil which has been raked to a fine tilth.
Do not cover them as they require light and a temperature of 20 to 21°C (68 to 70°F) to germinate; this takes from one to two weeks.
Water ground regularly, especially in dry periods. Germination will normally occur within 7 to 21 days at temperatures around 68 to 72°F (20 to 22°C). When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) apart.
Valerian grows best in moist conditions, so supply plenty of heavy watering.
Plants can grow vigorously, you can prevent spread by deadheading flowers before seed-set.
The plants are highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.
Harvesting & Storage:
Common Valerian is a perennial herb that is typically grown for its edible qualities. The entire above-ground parts of the plant are edible and can be harvested at any time in the season. The edible parts have a subtle taste and a pleasant fragrance.
Valerian was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.
The roots are processed and used medicinally as an aid to sleep, and crushed roots can be steeped in water to make a sedating tea. Caution should taken as this is one herb that should not be used for extended periods of time.
Wildlife Garden, Dry Garden, Flower Arranging.
Valeriana officinalis is one of the three major species of Valerian that are used in the pharmaceutical industry. Their dried roots contain up to 2% of essential oil made up of over 150 compounds, including valepotriates. The composition of the oil is dependent on environmental impacts, and especially on climate and soil-type.
For herbal use, Valerian is usually taken infused as a tea, or as a tincture. One of the major traditional uses of Valeriana is a sleeping aid, and its sedative properties have been known for thousands of years (since the time of the Ancient Greeks). It is commonly used for people who suffer lack of sleep through nervousness. Furthermore, it is used in the treatment of abdominal cramp, and grown commercially to produce tranquilisers and perfumes.
Native to Europe and Western Asia Valeriana officinalis can be found throughout Ireland and Britain, especially alongside rivers and in meadows.
It is a member of the 800 strong Caprifoliaceae family – having been previously classified into Valerianaceae. It is therefore closely related to species such as Centranthus, Patrinia, Weigela florida, and Linnaea.
Valeriana itself contains around 230 species, and some of the more frequently grown types include Valeriana celtica (Alpine valerian), Valeriana dioica (marsh valerian), and Valeriana wallichii.
The genus name Valeriana and the common name Valerian derives from the Latin word valere meaning ‘strong and healthy’.
When Linnaeus invented the binomial system of nomenclature, he gave the specific name 'officinalis' to plants (and sometimes animals) with an established medicinal, culinary, or other use. The word officinalis is derived from the Latin officina meaning a storeroom (of a monastery) for medicines and necessaries. It literally means 'of or belonging in an officina', and that it was officially recognised as a medicinal herb. It conjures up images of a storeroom where apothecaries and herbalists stored their herbs.
Common names for this plant include Garden Valerian (to distinguish it from other Valeriana species), Garden Heliotrope (although not related to Heliotropium) and All-heal.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 750 Seeds Family Valerianaceae Genus Valeriana Species officinalis Common Name Valerian, Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Other Language Names IR - Caorthann corraigh Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White with a hint of pink. Natural Flower Time June to September Foliage Dark green, finely divided, fern-like leaves Height 1 to 1.5 metres (3 to 5ft) Spread 1 metre (3ft) Position Full sun to part shade Soil Moist but well-drained Time to Sow Late winter to early spring or in late summer to autumn