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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Garden valerian, garden heliotrope, cat’s valerian, setwell, St. George’s herb

Latin Name: Valeriana officinalis

Plant Family: Caprifoliaceae

Close Relatives: honeysuckle, haskap

Uses and Markets: Medicinal (e.g. insomnia, sedative, etc.), personal care products (essential oil), culinary (e.g. soups and broths), ornamental          

Foliage of valerian.Valerian with flower stalks forming. Removal of flowers encourages more root growth.Valerian is often grown as an ornamental.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

A layer of mulch applied in fall and spring will protect the roots from heaving in winter and will help the soil retain moisture and moderate temperatures in the summer. Remove flowers to promote more rhizome growth. Plant in sun to part shade.  Seed is short-lived and is not usually viable beyond two years. Seeds need light to germinate.

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplanting root or runners or by division, also by transplants from seed. Growing in pots will affect root shape and may be best for initial establishment to be followed by transplanting runners. Direct seeding is a possibility, but seeds need to be kept near the soil surface to allow light to reach the seed. Moisture control during germination is very important to prevent the seeds from drying out before roots are established.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates

May for potted plants or in the fall for transplanting runners or division.

In-row spacing

40 cm

Between row spacing

40 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility guidelines exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Research from Germany suggests an optimal N application rate of 100 kg/ha. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Valerian is able to survive in many different soil types.  However, valerian performs best in rich loam soil with a good supply of moisture.

Soil pH

wide range of pH can be tolerated

Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range

Ttemperate climate

Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Plants: Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

Rhizomes should be harvested during the first year near the end of September.  When harvesting for essential oils, the best time is during the spring of the second year.  Roots should be harvested in the late summer or fall of the second year.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest (modified potato digger)

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades, quality is determined by the market

Additional Harvest Notes

When harvesting the rhizomes, harvest during cooler parts of the day to avoid drying.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Roots should be dried at 40oC with good air flow, preferably in forced-air kilns.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): Dried roots should be stored under dry conditions to prevent rehydration

Temperature: Store in cool conditions

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: Dried roots can be stored for two or more years under ideal conditions

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Unknown – limited to no production of this crop in Ontario to date.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Japanese beetles

Diseases: septoria leaf spot, ramularia leaf spot, downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust, sclerotinia white mould, root rots

Other: cats, rats

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: none.  Valerian is very attractive to cats and rats. When plants are young, protection against cats and rats is recommended. This crop is not in a crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes

Valerian can self-seed and become weedy. Removal of flowers will prevent this issue.   

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. McKeown, A.W., C.J. Bakker and J. Schooley. 1998-2002. Herb Demonstration Garden, University of Guelph Simcoe Research Station, unpublished.
  2. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Bomme, U. and A. Wurzinger. 1990. Results of Nmin soil analysis in medicinal plants and herbs. Gemüse (München) 26: 176-178.
  2. Booth, B. 2009. The complete illustrated book of herbs; growing, health and beauty, cooking, crafts. The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY.
  3. Bown, D. 1995. Encycolopedia of Herbs and their uses. The Royal Horticultural Society.
  4. Kowalchik, C. and W.H. Hylton. 1998. Rodale’s illustrated encyclopedia of Herbs. Rodale Press, Pensylvannia.
  5. Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick, and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Hamden, Connecticut.
  6. Thomas, S.C. 2000. Medicinal plants. Culture, Utilization and Phytopharmacology. CRC Press, Pennsylvania.  
  7. Tucker, A. and T. Debaggio. 2009. The encyclopedia of herbs – a comprehensive reference to herbs of flavor and fragrance. Timber Press, Portland OR.