Red Valerian

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Centranthus ruber
 Red Valerian, Jupiter's beard
Habit: herbaceous
Height: 16-28in
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Mediterranean
Water: drought tolerant
Features: flowers, hardy, naturalizes, pH
Bloom: spring to early fall
USDA Zones: 5a-10
Sunset Zones:
[[{{{domain}}}]] > [[{{{superregnum}}}]] > Plantae > [[{{{subregnum}}}]] > [[{{{superdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{superphylum}}}]] > Magnoliophyta > [[{{{phylum}}}]] > [[{{{subdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{subphylum}}}]] > [[{{{infraphylum}}}]] > [[{{{microphylum}}}]] > [[{{{nanophylum}}}]] > [[{{{superclassis}}}]] > Magnoliopsida > [[{{{subclassis}}}]] > [[{{{infraclassis}}}]] > [[{{{superordo}}}]] > Dipsacales > [[{{{subordo}}}]] > [[{{{infraordo}}}]] > [[{{{superfamilia}}}]] > Valerianaceae > [[{{{subfamilia}}}]] > [[{{{supertribus}}}]] > [[{{{tribus}}}]] > [[{{{subtribus}}}]] > Centranthus {{{subgenus}}} {{{sectio}}} {{{series}}} ruber {{{subspecies}}} var. {{{cultivar}}}

Red valerian is a popular garden flower, sometimes called just Valerian, which is a mistake as that is a completely different species (and genus?).

A popular garden plant which can take very poor conditions, which has made it successful in naturalizing in large sections of the world, including Great Britain and the United States, especially the west, and especially in disturbed, rocky places at elevations below 200m or by the roadside or in urban wasteland. It tolerate highly alkaline soil, even growing freely in old walls despite the lime in their mortar.

It usually grows as a subshrub though it can take any form from a herb to a shrub depending on conditions. Plants usually get woody at the base. Leaves are generally 5-8 cm long with a shape that changes from the bottom to the top of the plant, the lower leaves being petioled while the upper leaves are sessile. Red Valerian flowers profusely for a long period, in any shade from the more common purplish reds to white. The inflorescences are large and showy, with a strong rank scent: they are pollinated by bees and butterflies, with the plant known for attracting insects.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Centranthus ruber, DC. Red Valerian. Jupiter's Beard. Perennial, 1-3 ft., smooth and glaucous, forming a compact and floriferous bushy plant: lvs. ovate to lanceolate, some of them toothed at base but mostly entire: fls. numerous, deep crimson to pale red, fragrant. Eu., E. —A very handsome old garden plant, too much neglected; blooms all summer; excellent for cutting. Increased by division; also by seeds. There is a white-fld. form (var. albus).

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Red valerian calendar?
February: sow
March: sow
April: transplant
May: transplant
June: flowering
July: flowering
August: flowering
September: flowering

Needs regular water only when the plants are getting established, after which they are extremely drought tolerant. Cut back old dead flowers to encourage new blooms, which come from spring to early fall. Cutting off dead flower heads also prevents unwanted self-seeding.


Tip cuttings, seed sown in spring. Self sows.

Pests and diseases

It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Angle Shades.




External links

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