Valerian: description and cultivation of the plant

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Valerian (Valeriana) is a genus of perennial and annual herbs, less often shrubs of the subfamily of the valerian family of the honeysuckle family, common in Eurasia, South America, and Africa.

  • Family : honeysuckle.
  • Homeland : Mediterranean, South America.
  • Rhizome : vertical, short, with numerous outgoing roots.
  • Stem : upright.
  • Leaves : opposite.
  • Fruit : achene, usually with lionfish or volute
  • Reproductive ability : propagated by dividing the bush, seeds.
  • Illumination : photophilous.
  • Watering : moderate or plentiful.
  • Content temperature : cold-resistant.
  • Flowering time : June-August.

Description of valerian

Plants from a few centimeters to 1.5 m high, herbs , rarely shrubs , with opposite, lobed, pinnately dissected or whole leaves, small asymmetrical irregular flowers with a bell-shaped, tubular or funnel-shaped corolla and a characteristic one-sided sac-like swelling at the base. Valerian flowers are collected in multi-flowered inflorescences, paniculate, capitate or corymbose, lilac, pink or white.

About 200 species, more than 40% of them grow in the Andes. Plants are very diverse in the structure of vegetative organs and adaptability to living conditions. Among them there are grasses ranging in size from a few centimeters (Celtic valerian) to giants of 1.5 – 2 m (Valerian officinalis), shrub species that live in the Andes and reach a height of 2.5 m (pubescent and small-leaved valerian). They live in cold highlands, arctic tundras, and in deserts, in dry rocks and in swamps.

26 species grow on the territory of Russia. These are perennial herbs found on any soil and in any temperature conditions, especially well developed in areas with high humidity, on the banks of rivers, in marshy places, in water meadows, often forming dense thickets that can be used for harvesting roots.

A characteristic feature is the presence in all parts of an essential oil with a specific smell, very persistent, remaining even in dried specimens for over a century. The oil contains valeric acid, vanerol, camphor and a number of alkaloids, especially a lot, up to 2%, in rhizomes. Valerian plants are used in the medical industry to make sedatives, stimulants and tonics. It is part of valocordin, cardiovalen, Zelenin drops, sedatives, insomnia remedies, for example, the complex preparation “evening valerian”, which additionally includes mint and lemon balm, which enhances its calming effect.

Some types of valerian

The most famous species is medicinal valerian (Valeriana officinalis) , up to 2 m high, with a short rhizome, straight stem, branched in the upper part, dissected leaves and small fragrant flowers collected in a large paniculate or filiform inflorescence. Since the times of ancient Greece and Rome, it has been widely used as a medicinal plant. Due to the great need of medicine in many countries, valerian is grown on an industrial scale, for which it is sown with seeds, the roots are harvested in the second year of vegetation.

Blooms from May to August, looks good in the garden in a group planting.

A number of ornamental species are used in gardens as flowering plants. Some of them are listed below.

Lying valerian ( Valeriana supine) , a perennial ground cover plant that forms light green low curtains 2-7 cm tall, Blooms in June-August with small light pink flowers in dense inflorescences up to 3 cm in diameter. Grows well, tolerates partial shade, but in the sun more compact.

Mountain valerian (Valeriana montana) , 20 to 50 cm high, with a basal rosette of large ovate petiolate leaves and pale pink lush inflorescences of small flowers. Prefers partial shade, moisture-loving. Blooms in June-July.

Valerian stone -loving (Valeriana petrophila Bunge) , a small plant for rock gardens, 5-20 cm tall, with slightly curved or ascending stems, a rosette of leaves pubescent on top of rather long petioles, dense racemose inflorescences of pink flowers. Planted on poor soil with good drainage in the crevices of rock garden stones on the east side.

Valerian red (Centranthus ruber) , a representative of the genus kentranthus close to valerian of the same subfamily, a perennial 60-100 cm high rarely found in our gardens. It blooms continuously from June to autumn with fragrant small flowers collected in branched dome-shaped inflorescences at the ends of the stems. The leaves are gray-green, opposite, oval with a serrated edge. The bush grows in width, reaching 60 cm. There are varieties Coccineus with bright crimson and Albiflorus with white flowers. Below is a photo of red valerian.

Growing valerian

For all species choose a sunny, warm location. Demands for soil moisture in different varieties is not the same. Representatives of the valerian genus prefer wet areas, put up with penumbra, and red valerian, from the genus centrantus, is grown on moderately dry soil, does not tolerate stagnant water, and can grow not only in a warm, but even a hot place.

Most species are winter-hardy, can remain in one place without a transplant for many years. Valerian red is short-lived, requires renewal from seeds every 3 years, gives self-sowing, mulches or shelters for the winter.

Care consists in weeding, watering. For better flowering, top dressing with complex mineral fertilizers is recommended once every 2 weeks. In autumn, the flowers are cut at the root.

Propagated by seeds or division of bushes. Seeds are sown before winter or early spring, it is possible for seedlings in April-early May. The division of the bush is carried out in the spring before the leaves bloom.

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