This page talks about how to grow valerian.
Valerian has been used for centuries to help treat insomnia and anxiety. You can trace Valerian use all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome, where Hippocrates, and later, Galen, both recommended it for help with sleep. When taken for insomnia or anxiety, it is frequently combined with lemon balm or other herbs known to cause drowsiness. Valerian was even worn in medieval Sweden by grooms to ward off the “envy” of elves.
Native to Europe, Valerian is a leafy perennial with clumps of tiny white, light purple or pink flowers that generally grows up to four or five feet tall. Valerian not only beautiful, but great at attracting butterflies and bees to your garden.
You can start Valerian indoors or out. Be sure to bury the seeds no more than ¼” in the soil. Each seed has only so much energy contained within it to grow and needs the benefit of sunshine to germinate. Start planting in early spring.
If you’re planting indoors, you can transplant your small plants about four to eight weeks after planting them or late in spring. Wait until they begin to develop their second, larger set of leaves. You should start to see sprouts within 7 to 14 days after planting. Use a plant light to keep soil warm and encourage germination. Plants do not grow as well or very healthy in the dark.
When planting or transplanting outdoors, be sure to select an area with full sun and rich humus soil. Afternoon shade is okay, provided the plants get at least six hours of full sun during the day. Valerian prefers moist, but well-drained soil. So be sure to water regularly, particularly if you aren’t receiving regular rain. p.H should be between 5.5 and 7.0. Plant 12-15” apart. Valerian is extremely cold hardy and after appearing to die off in winter, will reemerge in the following spring.
Valerian reproduces through the use of runners in addition to seeds. The runners can either be a great addition to your garden, or a nice gift for a family member or friend. To keep your garden from being overpopulated with Valerian, you can remove these runners or cut the flowers off the plant before they drop their seeds. Valerian may bloom two or three times during the year, depending on the plant’s age and other factors.
The Valerian root is the part of the plant that contains medicinal properties. While it is possible to harvest Valerian root in the first year, it is recommended that you wait until the second year before harvesting. There will be bigger roots and more of them by the second year. You can use a shovel or garden fork to help you dig up the roots within 8-20 months after planting.
Dry the roots outside as they release an unpleasant odor while drying. Store in an airtight container. Roots can be used in powdered form or as a tea. Cats and dogs also seem to be attracted to Valerian. The flowers also make beautiful bouquets.
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