Valerian, native to Europe, is often found growing wild in damp meadows and along shady stream banks and ditches, but the herb can also be grown in the home garden. The root of the plant is harvested for medicinal purposes, and is also used to flavour beverages, teas and tobacco. Although valerian root is safe for human consumption, according to Purdue University Landscape and Agriculture, care should always be exercised in the use of any herb; check with your health care provider before using valerian as a remedy. Valerian is hardy to USDA Planting Zones 3 to 10.
- Skill level:
Prepare a planting spot where the valerian plant will be exposed to partial shade. Although valerian tolerates full sunlight, it does best with afternoon shade. Spade the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, then work 3 to 4 inches of compost or manure into the soil. Valerian is frost-tolerant and can be planted in late winter or early spring.
Scatter valerian seeds over the prepared soil. Press the seeds into the soil with the back of a rake, but don't cover the seeds with soil.
Water the area immediately, using a watering can or a hose attachment with a fine spray nozzle. Keep the soil consistently moist.
Thin the plants by removing the weakest seedlings when the valerian seedlings are about 3 inches tall. Allow 12 to 24 inches between each plant.
Control weeds around the valerian plants by hand-pulling or hoeing. Weeds will sap moisture and nutrients from the valerian plants.
Place 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch around the valerian plants. Mulch such as shredded bark or pine needles will control weeds and help to keep the soil moist.
Tips and warnings
- Valerian can also be propagated from existing domestic or wild valerian. Dig a clump of valerian, then divide the roots with your hand or a trowel. Plant the roots in the prepared soil. Valerian root can be planted in summer or autumn for harvest the following year.
- Valerian multiples rapidly and can become invasive. If this is a concern, plant valerian on the edge of your garden, or in a place where it won't become a problem.
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