Valerian is a wispy plant that gets about three feet tall as it reaches up to bloom. Valerian grows best where adequate moisture is provided and the soil is loamy enough to allow the roots to enlarge over time. The leaves are in pairs of leaflets which can be narrow or broad and vary in number.The more leaflets on leaf stem the more narrow they become and conversly the fewer leaflets the broader they are. Valerian blooms in summer with umbles of pale pink flowers that some say have a peculiar odor that can be off putting to some. The fragrance is not borne on the wind and must be sniffed to detect the aroma.
Valerian has become a well-known medicinal herb used for relaxation of the mind and for promoting sleep. Not everyone reacts the same to Valerian (or any other herb). A small percentage of those using Valerian may exhibit signs of insomonia. Be sure to check with a doctor or qualified herbal practioner before medicating with any herb.
Interestingly, it is the root of Valerian that is most often cultivated for medicinal use. It usually takes a couple of years for roots to get big enough to use but small roots can also be harvested. These roots should be thorougly cleaned and dried. They may also be powdered and boiled in a tea bag. Preparing roots for use requires boiling until the liquid is reduced by about one third. This is called a decoction. Another more pleasant tasting (and smelling) herb like Lemon Balm, could also be added. Because roots take longer to break down, add leaves and stems toward the end of boiling.
The leaves and stems of this tall wispy plant are usually discarded. Fortunately, Valerian leaves are much loved by some discerning felines. For more favorite herbs for pets check out Plants for Pets.
These plants are sometimes available in plug trays. These trays hold 128 of all the same plant. They are a great low cost way to fill a lot of space. Each cell is 3/4 of inch by an inch. Check here to see if Valerian Plug Trays are available.