Centranthus ruber

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 6 Professionals
Common Name: red valerian
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Native Range: Europe and northern Africa to Asia Minor
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Pale to crimson red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion

Culture

Easily grown in average or sandy, medium moisture, well-drained, soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers slightly alkaline soils in full sun. Does well in poor, infertile soils where it usually grows in a more compact form. Freely self-seeds in optimum growing conditions to the point of being weedy. Promptly remove (shear if large planting) spent flower stems to encourage additional bloom and to prevent seeds from forming. Plants are generally less vigorous in the hot and humid summers of the South than in cool summer climates.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Centranthus ruber, commonly called red valerian or Jupiter’s beard, is a well-branched, bushy, clump-forming, woody-based perennial which is valued for its ability to produce, often in poor soils, a showy bloom of star-shaped crimson, pink or white flowers from spring to frost. Although native to the Mediterranean, this plant has escaped gardens and naturalized in certain parts of the United States, particularly along the west coast. Flowers (each to 1/2") appear in dense terminal clusters (cymes) atop upright to relaxed stems rising above the foliage to 1.5-3' tall. Flowers are fragrant. If not deadheaded, flowers give way to dandelion-like seed heads which are typically disbursed around the landscape by wind. Fleshy, sessile, oval to lanceolate leaves (to 4" long) are gray-green.

Centranthus comes from the Greek words kentron meaning spur and anthos meaning flower in reference to flower spurs found on genus plants.

From Latin, ruber means red in reference to flower color of species plants.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Mealy bugs and aphids are occasional visitors.

Garden Uses

Cottage gardens. Naturalized areas. Stone walls. Slope or bank cover to help combat erosion. Borders, particularly as specimens or in small groups where planting can be more easily managed.