Centranthus have spread around the world and are familiar as cute, flowering, meadow plants with clusters of small flowers at the tips of the deer-resistant branches (that attract butterflies and hummingbirds).
More Information About Centranthus
Centranthus is a genus of southern European ornamental plants more commonly known as valerian. Some species of centranthus have spread around the world (with human help) and are familiar as cute, flowering, meadow plants with clusters of small flowers at the tips of the deer-resistant branches (that attract butterflies and hummingbirds). One species in particular, Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian), is widely grown.
Using Valerian in the Garden
Centranthus is related to other common garden plants such as patrinia, lonicera, and to a lesser extent, scabiosa. Like these plants, centranthus produces clusters of colorful flowers in spring, continuing sporadically until frost. These flowers are sometimes marvelously fragrant and often bloom in shades of carmine redhence the common name red valerian. They also make great cut flowers. The plants grow as sub-shrub: slow mounding, somewhat woody. Valerian looks great planted singly as a specimen, or in clusters. Its informal habit blends well into meadows, cottage gardens, naturalized areas, against walls and on slopes.
Growing and Caring for Centranthus
Centranthus is a resourceful little plant that can spread via wind-blown seed onto disturbed soils and is often found colonizing road sides. As you might expect, centranthus prefers sun and is fairly tolerant of lean soils and drought. In places with a Mediterranean climate (hot, dry summers) like the western US, centranthus can be weedy and invasive but here in the Southeast where it is humid, and in the North where it is cool the plants spread more slowly. Overall, Valerian is a great plant for the low-maintenance garden as it needs only to be cut back once per year in early spring to promote bushiness. Try paring valerian with asclepias, echinacea, rudbeckia, coreopsis, or buddleia to maximize the butterfly effect.