Medicinal valerian, Catgrass

Valeriana officinale

Medicinal valerian is a very fragrant herbaceous perennial known for its cat-attracting properties.

Medicinal valerian fact sheet

Name – Valeriana officinalis
Family – Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family), into which the Valerianaceae family was merged
Type – perennial

 – 24 to 32 inches (60 to 80 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary

Flowering – May to September

Its beautiful blooming also attracts other animals to your garden: bees.

Planting medicinal valerian

Fall is the recommended planting season for medicinal valerian. Plant them at a distance of 12 inches (30 cm) from each other.

You may also plant in spring specimens purchased in containers or nursery pots as long as you water a bit more at the beginning.

  • No need to add soil mix because valerian only has very limited needs.
  • Propagate through crown division in fall

Pruning and caring for medicinal valerian

Cut wilting flowers off as they die off.

  • Cut back as short as you can in fall, once leaves have dried.

The different varieties of valerian

There are about 200 species of valerian.

Other valerian species of notable interest:

–      Greater valerian, devil’s beard, also called phu valerian or Valeriana phu – sometimes grown in gardens. Its roots are more extensive than those of medicinal valerian. Its fragrance isn’t as strong. It isn’t used in medicine anymore.

–      Red centranthus or Centranthus ruber – this valerian is grown for ornamental purposes under the name red valerian. This plant is also used in medicine, it contains high levels of valepotriates and its therapeutic effects are identical to those of medicinal valerian.

>Still more varieties are Valeriana dioica, Valeriana tuberosa, Valeriana montana.

All there is to know about medicinal valerian

Not to be mistaken for the garden valerian, Centranthus ruber, medicinal valerian is a herbaceous plant that is also called catgrass.

  • Its peculiar smell tends to indeed attract cats.

Medicinal valerian is remarkably easy to grow and it adapts amazingly to any type of soil.

On top of this, it doesn’t require any watering.

Its flowers range in hue from pink to red and will match rocky backgrounds, flower beds as well as pot arrangements or garden boxes.

It is definitely one of the “herbs of old” that our grandmothers knew of, and is a great component of wild gardens.

Using medicinal valerian

The roots of medicinal valerian are used in many pharmaceutical preparations.

Medicinal valerian roots seem to have sedative properties. They soothe nervous contractures and insomnia, neurosis or hysteria.

Smart tip about valerian

For a nice ornamental impact, mix the colors.