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How to Grow Valerian

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

Valerian, also known as garden heliotrope, is a fragrant perennial herb that grows in clumps. Valerian produces pale pink flowers that are heavily fragrant, smelling somewhat similar to a mixture of cloves and vanilla. Valerian grows up to 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide, and the flowers bloom from June through September. The stringy roots of this European and Northern Asia native herb are harvested for their medicinal properties, often used as a sedative or sleep aide.

Prepare a planting site in full sunlight for the valerian plants by working some aged manure or organic compost into the soil down about 12 inches deep. Dig planting holes for your valerian that are the same size and width as the nursery containers or root balls.

Space the valerian plants about 1 foot apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. Gently firm the soil around the roots, and water the soil thoroughly and deeply after planting.

Water your valerian lightly two to three times each week to supplement rainfall. Water the herbs more deeply during times of drought or dry spells.

Feed your valerian a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer once each month during the growing season. Apply the fertilizer when you water the valerian and according to the dosage instructions on the label.

Snip off the flowers after they fade. You can dig up and divide the valerian clumps in the spring or fall to replant them elsewhere.


Things You Will Need

  • Valerian plants or seeds
  • Pitchfork or rototiller
  • Aged manure or organic compost
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • High-nitrogen liquid fertilizer
  • Sharp scissors


  • You can also grow valerian from seeds planted outdoors in the fall or started indoors and planted out in the late spring or summer.
  • Harvest the valerian roots during the spring or fall by digging them up carefully. Rinse the soil off the roots and dry them in an oven set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Don't allow the soil to dry out around the valerian plants. Valerians need constant but light moisture.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.