RED VALERIAN (Centranthus ruber)

S Europe, Mediterranean to Turkey, N Africa

Valerian 2015

Valerian, Centranthus ruber, in bud










This import from the Mediterranean, with its chalky RED flowers & grey-green leaves, has found a place in British gardens. It spills over walls & stony banks, enjoying a place in the sun. Red Valerian adapts to soils that are poor, alkaline, moist or dry, sandy or chalky. It  flowers from April through to October.


Bees’ Favourite.

Bees and butterflies are attracted to this plant. Centranthus is not to be confused with herbal Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), loved by cats & used by humans for insomnia.

Centranthus ruber; Valerian May 25 2015


Remove spent flowerheads to encourage more blooms. This will also prevent the formation of dandelion-like seed parachutes.  Here in the Highbury garden, our plants’ seeds are usually eaten by wildlife.

Our first Valerian, ‘St George’, was a mix of white & red flowers grown from seed. It struggled with invading Bindweed tendrils from the concrete garden next door, & was moved onto the earthwork.


Other names: Drunkards, Drunkard’s Nose, Drunken Sailor, Drunken Willy, Drunkits, Fox’s Brush, Gipsy Lace, Good Neighbourhood, Good Neighbours, Jupiter’s Beard, Keys to Heaven, Kiss Behind the Pantry, Kiss Me Quick, Kissing Kind, Kiss the Garden Door, Lady’s Needlework, Pretty Betsy, Red Spur Valerian, Scarlet Lightning, Spur Valerian.