What comes to mind when you first hear the word “valerian”? Well, the answer to that question depends on your profession or how you spend your free time.
Those in tune with pop culture will think of fairy tales or stories of adventure and mystery. On the other hand, those who are into plants and herbs will know exactly what valerian is all about. Derby Landscaping is a company focussing on hard and soft landscaping and gardening with herbs is a part of this.
Chances are, that if you are reading this article, you most likely don’t know what valerian is, let’s help you with that. Even if you are familiar with valerian, am sure this article will teach you some new things, read on.
WHAT ARE THEY?
The name ‘valerian’ comes from the Latin word ‘valere’ which means ‘to be healthy’.
Valerian is known for its ability to calm and induce sleep. The ancients employed valerian roots as a sedative and made perfume out of the flowers. With the help of research and lots of studies, modern medicine has come to appreciate valerian for its natural capabilities.
HOW TO GROW THEM
For the most part, valerian thrives in a moist and well-drained loamy soil. As for light, full sunlight or partial shade is fine.
You can start with seeds or seedlings. If you choose the seeds route, germination can be tricky, but with a little effort and dedication, you can have your very own valerian nursery. On the other hand, working with seedlings will be much easier. If you already have valerians growing in your neighborhood, then all you need do is find younger plants and transplant them to your garden.
For seeds, plant them in a rich mix indoors, then transfer them to your garden in 4 – 8 weeks. For seedlings, keep them inside until bigger leaves start to show. For both seeds and seedlings, when indoors, ensure that they are in well-lit areas.
Spacing of at least 90cm on all sides is required for valerian. Also, an area where they can grow tall (up to 5ft) is key. If rainfall is a common commodity in the area, then you won’t need to ever water your valerian.
Keep an eye on, and nip those flower blooms to keep a valerian invasion away.
Harvesting valerian is done in the fall after a year or two of growth. Preferably, harvesting valerian is done with a garden fork as opposed to a shovel, so as not to damage arguably the most valuable part of a valerian plant; its roots.
After harvesting, wash the roots and leave them to dry. Valerian roots emit a pungent smell as they dry, so air them in a place where their smell won’t be an issue. The leaves can also be useful to brew nighttime tea.
SHOULD YOU GROW THEM?
Valerians can spread fast, like really fast. A few plants in your gardens can result in clusters of valerian showing up in other neighborhood gardens in just a few years. Even worse is the fact that valerians are resilient. Simply pulling them out of the ground isn’t going to do the trick as their fibrous root ensures that they come back stronger.
Yes, their flowers smell nice and their roots have medicinal properties, but valerians if left unchecked can pretty much alter an ecosystem and change entire landscapes.
So, if you are thinking of growing your own valerian, check with the local authorities to ensure that they are not on the “alien species” list.
BENEFITS OF VALERIAN
Valerian aids in boosting GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), modulating serotonin and norepinephrine, and activating adenosine receptors. Valerian also acts as a neuroprotectant, helping preserve neuronal structure and function.
Valerian has proven to be an effective treatment for conditions like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Valerian has anti-inflammatory characteristics. It decreases the presence of nuclear factor kappa-B(NF-kB) which in turn results in improved blood flow and muscle dilation.
HOW TO USE THEM/FORMS