Valerian is relatively easy to grow in the garden and requires little maintenance. But every now and then a few measures have to be taken.© LianeM - Fotolia.com
Valerian (Valeriana) is common in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. The calming effect of the herb is widely appreciated. It is less well known that valerian cuts a fine figure not only in the herb garden, but also in flower beds or tubs.
With its pretty inflorescences, the herb can be admired long before the harvest is due. Valerian occurs in numerous species in nature.
Only a few of them are suitable as ornamental plants. These prove to be robust and easy to cultivate. However, some care tips should be followed.
Overview of types of valerian
Valerian occurs in about 200 species. Around 20 varieties are common in Europe. In cultivation, there are hardly any differences between the individual varieties. There are also little deviations in the effect of the plants. Of interest for medicine are the real valerian, as well as variants occurring in Mexico and India.
❍ Real valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
The Valerian is the best-known representative of the plant family. The plants are found in Europe and Asia. There they thrive in the sun and penumbra and, in contrast to most other valerian species, prefer a more humid environment. The Valerian can grow up to two meters in height, bloom in May and has leaves about 20 centimeters long.
❍ Real Speik
The plants only grow to a height of around 15 centimeters. The spike-shaped flowers appear between June and August.
❍ Little valerian
The small valerian grows up to 35 centimeters in height and has white to pink flowers that appear from May.
N Indian spikenard
With a stature height of up to 60 centimeters, the Indian spikenard in the herb garden definitely catches the eye. The plants like particularly dry locations and bloom from June.
How to properly care for your valerian
Valerian is watered rather cautiously. As a rule, the plants manage to absorb enough liquid and nutrients from the soil. This is explained by the natural location conditions of the plant. Valerian grows on dry, lime-rich soils and even on rocky surfaces. However, the plants have a fine and not very deep root network. With prolonged drought there is a risk that the plants will die if not watered. The common valerian, which is widespread in Europe, prefers a humid environment, but copes well with shorter dry periods.
To be watered regularly:
- potted plants
- Plants that are subject to prolonged drought and heat
Valerian can be poured with tap water. Many plants cannot tolerate the fairly high proportion of lime in tap water. Valerian prefers calcareous soils and therefore has no problems with tap water irrigation. The surface can dry out between watering.
Valerian is quite undemanding in terms of nutrient supply. An oversupply of nutrients seems to be a problem. If compost is added to the substrate during planting, the plants do not need additional fertilization in the first year of standing. In the following year, fertilization is carried out again.
" Tip: Fresh manure and manure are not suitable as fertilizer. Germs could damage the plant.
Container plants have a limited supply of nutrients and should be supplied with herbal fertilizer every four to eight weeks. Even older plants that have been in the same location for several years can, over time, show reduced growth, a lack of nutrients and make fertilization necessary.
A cut is not absolutely necessary. A clearing cut in spring is recommended for plants that grow too densely. Valerian is perfectly compatible with cutting and therefore withered or dried plant parts, old flowers or annoying and broken branches can be removed at any time.
Valerian does not only convince visually. The cultivation should also serve a practical purpose. The flowers and roots of the plant can be used for teas and infusions. The flowers can be harvested at any time after they have unfolded. The roots should only be used by older plants and can be dug up in autumn. The roots are air dried before use.
Even in the cold season, valerian is robust and resistant. Plants grown outdoors survive harsh winters and do not need additional protection. The plants lose their leaves and flowers in autumn. The rhizomes remain in the soil and sprout again the following year.
Container plants are less robust. The planter can easily freeze completely, this would not survive the plant, because then it can no longer supply itself with nutrients. Valerian in the bucket should spend the winter frost-free. Sporadic watering protects against the complete drying out of the planter.