What Is Valerian: How To Grow Valerian Plants In The Garden

(Image credit: LianeM)

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is an herb that’s been used in traditional medicine for centuries and is still known for its calming effects even today. It’s very tough and easy to grow, earning it a place in plenty of medicinal and ornamental gardens. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow valerian plants.

How to Grow Valerian Plants

What is valerian? It’s a hardy perennial native to Eurasia. It’s very cold tolerant and thrives in USDA zones 4 through 9. A valerian herb plant will die back to the ground in the winter, but the roots should be fine and will put up new growth in the spring. It will grow in a wide variety of conditions, from full to sun to partial shade and in any well-draining soil. It does, however, like to be kept moist. As part of valerian herb plant care, you’ll need to water it frequently and cover it with mulch to help retain moisture. Also, a valerian herb plant will self-seed very readily. If you don’t want your plants to spread, remove the flowers before they have a chance to develop and drop seeds. Growing valerian herbs is very easy. The seeds can be sown directly in the ground after all chance of frost has passed, or they can be started indoors several weeks earlier and then transplanted outside. The plants grow to between 3 and 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) in height and produce white, faintly scented flowers. The roots are used for their calming properties when eaten or brewed into tea. Harvest the roots in the fall by watering the plant, then digging the whole thing up. Wash the soil from the roots, then dry them in the oven at 200 degrees F. (93 C.) with the door open a crack. The roots may take two growing seasons to be large enough to harvest.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.