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A picture of a Common Valerian

Common Valerian

Valeriana officinalis

Also known as

Summer Heliotrope, Hardy Heliotrope, Garden Valerian, Medicinal Valerian, Hercules' All-Heal, All-Heal, Cut-Heal, Cut-Finger, Set-Wall, Valerian, Cat's valerian, Garden heliotrope, Phu, All heal

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images of Common Valerian

A photo of Common Valerian
A photo of Common Valerian

Common Valerian Overview

A compound leaf, having leaflets arranged on either side of the stem. It is noteworthy to mention the leaves and stems contribute a curiously musty scent, much loved by cats and dogs while generally unpleasant to most people. Rounded clusters of small sweetly scented, pink or white flowers are borne from mid-summer to autumn. What the foliage lacks in scent the blossom provides, with notes of vanilla and cherry. It is valued for its medicinal qualities, used in Europe for several hundred years as a mild sedative and sleep aid. The plant will enjoy most soil types when well-drained and fertile.

Common problems with Common Valerian

Mainly quite healthy and trouble free.

    How to harvest Common Valerian

    The rhizome may be dug up in autumn or spring. Flowering stems should be cut off as they appear, therefore enabling better development of the root through summer. Generally a young plant will not flower in its first year but will produce a bushy crop of l

    How to propagate Common Valerian


    Sow in trays during spring, Keep the sowing medium moist and germination should take place within 2 weeks. Seedlings may then be planted out in 10 weeks. Alternatively seed may be sown directly into the garden. As Valerian seed needs a bit of light to ger


    Division in spring. Large divisions can be planted direct into their permanent positions. With smaller divisions, it is advisable to pot the divisions and grow these on. Keep them moist and in a semi-sun position until they are growing well. They can then

    Special features of Common Valerian

    Attracts birds

    Blooms and seed are attractive to birds.

    Attracts useful insects

    Blooms are attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

    Indoor plant

    Valerian is not suitable as a traditional indoor plant. However seed may be sown and young plants kept indoors for their first 10 weeks.

    Drought resistant

    Somewhat drought resistant but does like regular watering.

    Wet sites

    Valerian will do well in a wet site which drains well.

    Hedge plant

    A deciduous perennial, velerian would only be suitable as a hedge over the summer months. Growing to 1m-1.5m it is an attractive screen for the back of a herbaceous bed, especially when grown against a support or fence.

    Crop rotation

    Valerian is a heavy feeder and should therefore be rotated with nitrogen fixers.

    Autumn colour

    Flowers are borne from summer to the beginning of autumn.

    Other uses of Common Valerian

    Fragrance, medicinal.


    As the Latin name suggests, Valerian has a long history as a medicinal plant. A herbal Valium, although not related to the prescription drug, Valerian is known for its anti-insomnia properties. Its tinctures and teas are thought to relax muscles, reduce a


    Its young leaves are sometimes used in salads, and the roots are edible.

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